This is a futuristic fantasy, satire and adventure story set
on another planet. It could also be regarded as humorously
written science fiction with touches of the Chaucerian, though
very few technological advances are described. The plot
challenges the reader by repeatedly twisting and turning,
perhaps most dramatically so during the academic conference
described in Chapters 19 and 20.
With the exception of Adam and Svein, all of my
fictional characters, most specifically Susan Lindsay and Dirk
Charleston, are original conceptions and no other similarities
with other real people, apart from myself, are intended or
should be inferred. Adam’s religious foibles are partly
inspired by a Scottish acquaintance, and Svein is based, with
his permission, on my Swedish friend Mattheus. None of the
academic departments in the novel are intended to reflect on
any real scenario, past or present.
A limerick about a Warden of Wadham was reported in
Wikipedia, and I also utilise two quotes from
Jonathan Livingston Seagull by Richard Bach. In three of
my bracketed notes in the text, I reference a verse about
Procrustes and explain the sources of my information about
frogs and toads, and the purported behaviour of some night
nurses in Palliative Wards. The cow pies to which I refer are
much favoured by Desperate Dan (see the Dandy comic).
My phrase ‘Summertime on Qinsatorix’ refers to Summertime
on Icarus by Arthur C. Clarke. The Millennium Edition of
Brewer’s Dictionary of Phrase and Fable provides a useful
secondary source for some of my verses and literary quotes.
The songs ‘Our Theorem is Bayes’ Theorem’ and
‘Bayesian Wonderland’ were composed by George E.P. Box, and by
H. Ashih and R.A. Reutter. See The Bayesian Songbook
(edited by Bradley Carlin) on Google for the complete
versions. The Snipper people’s minstrel song is adapted from a
song performed by Thomas Dartmouth Rice during the 1820’s. The
poet Ezra Pound composed ‘Fleas’. A brief quote from Bridal
of Trierman by Sir Walter Scott (1813) and relating to the
sword Caliburn (Excalibur) is incorporated. The quote
‘a screaming comes from across the sky’ was employed by Thomas
Pynchon in Gravity’s Rainbow. The ‘order of the metal
comb’ derives from passages in Midshipman Hornblower by
C.S. Forester. I also refer to a statistical article by Zoë
Hoare (September 2010) in Significance.
The scalping of Native Americans in 1832 on their
sacred ground between Lakes Mendota and Monona is
fictionalised; the true version was reported in the
contemporary New York press. A young Abraham Lincoln was
present, but he was not the civilian responsible for the
celebrated joke about the blunt knife.
The 'Mayflower Rose', Professor Winnie Li of Penn State
University, Morris De Groot, and a senior colleague at the University of
Wisconsin-Madison who wishes to remain anonymous, are the
sources of invaluable information relating to the 1981
brutal murder in Taipei of the Han Chinese martyr Chen
Wen Chen. I am however unable to reveal the identities of the
Sino-Americans purportedly involved in the plot, and these
should not be inferred from any information that I have
provided in my writings.
Eystein Thanisch, Allan Turkington, Liz Williams,
Anna Thornton, Hilary Johnson and Cindy Scott have made many
constructive suggestions, and Eystein and Allan contributed to
the narrative. I am also indebted to Bill for his mathematical
and religious expertise. Thanks also to Anna, Marjorie, Alan
and a number of fellow writers including David Hutchison,
Steve Rapaport and Colin Reid for their comments and advice.