So, I bought Tim Powers’ novel, The Gates of Anubis, just for the fun of it. Well, as you might know, it’s a pretty good science-fiction novel – good, as in, “it’s literature”, not good as in, “it’s mildly entertaining if you hit me over the head before I start reading” – and, oh the surprise, it features a journey through time, to one of Mr Coleridge’s lectures on Shakespeare!
(The lectures I talk about here, and will talk about WAY more in the future.)
I like the book, because it’s intelligently written – the author tries to play a bit with the topics he describes, rather than just narrating them. Now, this is certainly a text just as serious as a time-travel story can get – but it is written for an educated audience, and entertainingly so. I am usually not very generous with my compliments to writers in general, but I think I will read more books by this Mr Powers, who previously was pretty much unknown to me, other than one of his other books apparently served as a ghostscript for the last, and pretty dull, installment of Disney’s Pirates of the Caribbean series.
‘Mr Coleridge, I believe?’ ‘Yes,’ the man said, ‘and I do apologize to you all for —’
‘Excuse me.’ Doyle turned to Lawrence. ’I’he boy indicated that there is a banquet room not in use.’ ‘Well, yes, that’s true, but it hasn’t been swept and there’s no ﬁre . . . and besides, Mr Montagu —’
‘Montague won’t mind.’ He turned to Darrow, who was recovering his color. ’I’m sure you must have brought suitable cash to cover emergencies, Mr Darrow,’ he said. ’And I imagine that if you give this fellow enough of it he’ll have a ﬁre built and provisions brought to us in this banquet room. After all, Mr Coleridge clearly thought it was to be this evening, and so did we, so why should we listen to him out on the street when there are taverns about with
unused rooms? I’m sure,’ he said to Lawrence, ‘even Mr Montagu can’t fault the logic of that.’
‘Well,’ said the manager reluctantly, “it will mean taking several of our people away from their proper duties . . . we will all have to take extra pains . . .’ ‘A hundred gold sovereigns!’ cried Darrow wildly. ‘Done,’ choked Lawrence. ‘But keep your voice down, please.’ Coleridge looked horriﬁed. ‘Sir, I couldn’t permit —’ ’I’m a disgustingly wealthy man,’ Darrow said, his poise regained. ‘Money is nothing to me. Benner, fetch it from the coach while Mr Lawrence here shows us to the banquet room.’ He clapped one arm around Coleridge’s shoulders and the other around Doyle’s and followed the bustling, eager ﬁgure of the manager. ‘By your accents I surmise you are American?’ said Coleridge, a little bewildered. Doyle noted that the man pronounced his r’s; it must be the Devonshire accent, he thought, still present after all these years. Somehow that added to the impression of vulnerability Coleridge projected…