The Sword of Forever

Roots: Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. The novel opens with quotations from the Bible and The Invisibles. There are references to Tarzan, Nike, Coca-Cola, Debussy's Snowflakes are Dancing, Charlie Chaplain, Fortean Times, the Beano, Stanley Kubrick's A Clockwork Orange, James Bond (SMERSH), Adolf Hitler, Margaret Thatcher, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, and Monty Python's Flying Circus ("No one expects the Spanish Inquisition").

Goofs: The quotation on the back cover does not appear in the novel, as Mortimore explains in the afterword.

UK broadcasts of A Clockwork Orange became legal rather sooner than five hundred years after the novel was written.

Continuity: The Sword of Forever is an artifact that can alter reality, creating time, rewriting history, create and recreate life and make whole worlds. The Ark of the Covenant is the control mechanism, whilst the Holy Grail, the Spear of Longinus, and the Crown of Thorns are "bolt on extras". Operation of the Sword is fatal, but the Ark can resurrect the wielder at the point of death [it isn't specified who created it. There's much talk of God, which has been interpreted in various ways, but as Bernice realises, the Sword effectively *is* God, and the implication is that its past use inspired Christian creation myths. Given its powers, it's not dissimilar in principle to the Key to Time, raising the possibility that it is Guardian technology].

When Bernice was twenty-two, she visited Arginy as part of an archaeological expedition to find the Castle of Arginy, which she did; her friend and lover Daniel Beaujeu apparently died inside, a victim of one of the traps left behind. Daniel's parents die in 2595, leaving his cousin Sara Beaujeu the only known surviving family member. In fact, as Benny discovers here, Daniel survived and became infected with alien DNA, becoming a hybrid or "ghost". Benny has eaten Chocolate Skunk in St. Oscar's coffee-and-cake parlour. She has an AmEx Platinum Card. She marries Marillian in St Paul's Cathedral in order to gain entry to the British Museum, becoming Mrs Summerfield-Marillian. She takes various legal narcotics with Marillian, and poses naked on a camel. She later eats salted flamingo. She joins the secret order with the Freemasons (and the Freemasons in the process). Her hair is currently long enough to tie back. She dies twice here and is resurrected by the Ark - on each occasion she gains a new body. On the second occasion, she willingly allows herself to be crucified in order to operate the Ark, remaking creation in her own image at least once [this is rather unclear, although she appears to be responsible for Patience's timeline not being the dominant reality at the end].

Patience is raptor from an alternate timeline in which dinosaurs were the dominant species. She is resurrected here when the Ark of the Covenant clones her and returns to Dellah with Bernice.

Links: There is an oblique reference to Bernice's previous visit to Egypt (Set Piece). She recalls encountering dinosauria of terrestrial origin before (Blood Heat).

Location: Egypt, 1287; Arginy, 2560, 2562 and 2595; Paris, 1307 and 1314; Ethiopia, 2575; Kampuchea, 2577; Dellah, Downbelow Station on Mars, Antarctica, Egypt, London, the Midlands, Glasgow, Loch Ness, Antioch, 2595; Pangaia, 80 million BC.

Future History: Indiana Jones: Final Genesis is made sometime after 1998.

During the Dalek War, missiles fell on Europe for almost a decade. Dalek retroviruses were inadvertently spread by human military keen to exploit the technology; by 2562, they have infected 68 percent of terrestrial DNA, often producing mutant terrestrial or terrestrial-alien hybrids including bloodweeds. In 2595, the World Surplus Food Storage Facility is in Antarctica. In the aftermath of the Dalek War, three countries no longer exist. There is a Russian Federation. A Congress has been formed out of the richest and most powerful countries, including Nike, who provided footwear to soldiers during the war, and Coca-Cola, who restored cocaine to their products during the war. In London, Parliament was destroyed in the war and has been replaced by the Republic Museum of Social and Political History. London has become a museum, the Thames homogenised, detoxified, and stocked with endangered genetically pure species from the Pacific Ocean. Marillian owns London. Inverness has been replaced with a deep water trench connecting Loch Ness to the Moray Firth.

Bio-accessorizing allows people to tailor their skin pigmentation [a precursor to body bepple technology - see Original Sin]. [Genetically engineered] intelligent, talking pigs are used to operate computers.

In 2234, Heironymous Basquait, a fashionable French artist, tried to wrap the Sphinx in Christmas wrapping paper and subsequently attempted to buy it. This lead, via a bizarre chain of logic, to political skirmishes and two minor wars, ultimately resulting in the destruction of the leaning tower of Pisa by a poorly-directed half-ton asteroid.
The Egyptian Government has stopped people from entering the Sphinx ever since Uphaut IX went berserk. Armstrong City is located in the Sea of Tranquillity on the Moon.

The Bottom Line: "You are eternity." Imaginative, witty and mind-boggling, but it sits so awkwardly in the range that one suspects that Mortimore simply used his commission as a way of getting his own private novel published, a suspicion not alleviated by the off-kilter characterisation of Bernice.

Discontinuity Guide by Paul Clarke

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