Monday, March 26, 2007


My latest science fiction read is the nicely covered and weirdly titled The Jewels of Elsewhen by Ted White (1967). I love the couples' outfits on the cover, but they really don't reflect the costumes of the book which are regular cop and young woman clothes ca. 1967. Still, isn't it better to be running around in alternate realities wearing some futuristic leotards? Probably.

Because that is what this surprisingly great book is all about -- our heroes, Arthur Ficarra, the cop coming off a 20 hour shift and heading home for some sleep and Kim Nemzek, young woman coming home from a really long day of getting fired, robbed, and raped (although you don't find that out until later in a somewhat disturbingly blase scene), are about to get off at their stop on the subway. But the doors don't open. And everyone else in their car has turned into a mannequin. And so has everyone in the next car up. And in the third car they are all 2-dimensional cardboard cutouts. And in the front car they are just tags with people's names on them. But finally a door opens, and they go outside to find a perfect model of New York City with no people and nothing in the buildings. Everything is very strange. And it gets even stranger when the sky rips apart and starts falling down on Arthur and Kim.

They run into the subway and find a old-timey trolley car waiting. They jump in and when it stops they find themselves in a strange 1945 where New York City is Italian and everyone seems kind of beaten down and oppressed. More realities and more NYCs follow. They are stuck in elsewhen. What is going on? How do they get back to regular New York City?

The answer is pretty neat, although it would be even neater if it didn't involve Leonardo Da Vinci. If you want, I'll tell you about it sometime, but it would really ruin the book to let it out here. And don't you want to read it for yourself? I'll even loan you my copy...

[And how could you resist checking out the back cover here.]

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