The Fictioning Horror Sale
 
 

Recently Viewed clear list


Original Essays | September 4, 2014

Edward E. Baptist: IMG The Two Bodies of The Half Has Never Been Told: Slavery and the Making of American Capitalism



My new book, The Half Has Never Been Told: Slavery and the Making of American Capitalism, is the story of two bodies. The first body was the new... Continue »
  1. $24.50 Sale Hardcover add to wish list

spacer
Qualifying orders ship free.
$7.75
List price: $16.00
Used Trade Paper
Ships in 1 to 3 days
Add to Wishlist
Qty Store Section
24 Local Warehouse SF- F

The Eyre Affair (Thursday Next #01)

by

The Eyre Affair  (Thursday Next #01) Cover

 

 

Excerpt

1.
A Woman Named Thursday Next

"...The Special Operations Network was instigated to handle policing duties considered either too unusual or too specialized to be tackled by the regular force. There were thirty departments in all, starting at the more mundane Neighborly Disputes (SO-30) and going onto Literary Detectives (SO-27) and Art Crime (SO-24). Anything below SO-20 was restricted information, although it was common knowledge that the ChronoGuard was SO-12 and Antiterrorism SO-9. It is rumored that SO-1 was the department that polices the SpecOps themselves. Quite what the others do is anyone's guess. What is known is that the individual operatives themselves are mostly ex-military or ex-police and slightly unbalanced. "If you want to be a SpecOp," the saying goes, "act kinda weird . . ."

MILLION DE FLOSS
A Short History of the Special Operations Network

My father had a face that could stop a clock. I don't mean that he was ugly or anything; it was a phrase the ChronoGuard used to describe someone who had the power to reduce time to an ultraslow trickle. Dad had been a colonel in the ChronoGuard and kept his work very quiet. So quiet, in fact, that we didn't know he had gone rogue at all until his timekeeping buddies raided our house one morning clutching a Seize & Eradication order open-dated at both ends and demanding to know where and when he was. Dad had remained at liberty ever since; we learned from his subsequent visits that he regarded the whole service as "morally and historically corrupt" and was fighting a one-man war against the bureaucrats within the Office for Special Temporal Stability. I didn't know what he meant by that and still don't; I just hoped he knew what he was doing and didn't come to any harm doing it. His skills at stopping the clock were hard-earned and irreversible: He was now a lonely itinerant in time, belonging to not one age but to all of them and having no home other than the chronoclastic ether.

I wasn't a member of the ChronoGuard. I never wanted to be. By all accounts it's not a huge barrel of laughs, although the pay is good and the service boasts a retirement plan that is second to none: a one-way ticket to anywhere and anywhen you want. No, that wasn't for me. I was what we called an "operative grade I" for SO-27, the Literary Detective Division of the Special Operations Network based in London. It's way less flash than it sounds. Since 1980 the big criminal gangs had moved in on the lucrative literary market and we had much to do and few funds to do it with. I worked under Area Chief Boswell, a small, puffy man who looked like a bag of flour with arms and legs. He lived and breathed the job; words were his life and his love-he never seemed happier than when he was on the trail of a counterfeit Coleridge or a fake Fielding. It was under Boswell that we arrested the gang who were stealing and selling Samuel Johnson first editions; on another occasion we uncovered an attempt to authenticate a flagrantly unrealistic version of Shakespeare's lost work, Cardenio. Fun while it lasted, but only small islands of excitement among the ocean of day-to-day mundanities that is SO-27: We spent most of our time dealing with illegal traders, copyright infringements and fraud.

I had been with Boswell and SO-27 for eight years, living in a Maida Vale apartment with Pickwick, a regenerated pet dodo left over from the days when reverse extinction was all the rage and you could buy home cloning kits over the counter. I was keen-no, I was desperate-to get away from the LiteraTecs but transfers were unheard of and promotion a nonstarter. The only way I was going to make full inspector was if my immediate superior moved on or out. But it never happened; Inspector Turner's hope to marry a wealthy Mr. Right and leave the service stayed just that-a hope-as so often Mr. Right turned out to be either Mr. Liar, Mr. Drunk or Mr. Already Married.

As I said earlier, my father had a face that could stop a clock; and that's exactly what happened one spring morning as I was having a sandwich in a small caf? not far from work. The world flickered, shuddered and stopped. The proprietor of the caf? froze in midsentence and the picture on the television stopped dead. Outside, birds hung motionless in the sky. Cars and trams halted in the streets and a cyclist involved in an accident stopped in midair, the look of fear frozen on his face as he paused two feet from the hard asphalt. The sound halted too, replaced by a dull snapshot of a hum, the world's noise at that moment in time paused indefinitely at the same pitch and volume.

"How's my gorgeous daughter?"

I turned. My father was sitting at a table and rose to hug me affectionately.

"I'm good," I replied, returning his hug tightly. "How's my favorite father?"

"Can't complain. Time is a fine physician."

I stared at him for a moment.

"Y'know," I muttered, "I think you're looking younger every time I see you."

"I am. Any grandchildren in the offing?"

"The way I'm going? Not ever."

My father smiled and raised an eyebrow.

"I wouldn't say that quite yet."

He handed me a Woolworths bag.

"I was in '78 recently," he announced. "I brought you this."

He handed me a single by the Beatles. I didn't recognize the title.

"Didn't they split in '70?"

"Not always. How are things?"

"Same as ever. Authentications, copyright, theft—"

"—same old shit?"

"Yup." I nodded. "Same old shit. What brings you here?"

"I went to see your mother three weeks ahead your time," he answered, consulting the large chronograph on his wrist. "Just the usual-ahem-reason. She's going to paint the bedroom mauve in a week's time-will you have a word and dissuade her? It doesn't match the curtains."

"How is she?"

He sighed deeply.

"Radiant, as always. Mycroft and Polly would like to be remembered too."

They were my aunt and uncle; I loved them deeply, although both were mad as pants. I regretted not seeing Mycroft most of all. I hadn't returned to my hometown for many years and I didn't see my family as often as I should.

"Your mother and I think it might be a good idea for you to come home for a bit. She thinks you take work a little too seriously."

"That's a bit rich, Dad, coming from you."

"Ouch — that hurt. How's your history?"

"Not bad."

"Do you know how the Duke of Wellington died?"

"Sure," I answered. "He was shot by a French sniper during the opening stages of the Battle of Waterloo. Why?"

"Oh, no reason," muttered my father with feigned innocence, scribbling in a small notebook. He paused for a moment.

"So Napoleon won at Waterloo, did he?" he asked slowly and with great intensity.

"Of course not," I replied. "Field Marshal Bl?cher's timely intervention saved the day."

I narrowed my eyes.

"This is all O-level history, Dad. What are you up to?"

"Well, it's a bit of a coincidence, wouldn't you say?"

"What is?"

"Nelson and Wellington, two great English national heroes both being shot early on during their most important and decisive battles."

"What are you suggesting?"

"That French revisionists might be involved."

"But it didn't affect the outcome of either battle," I asserted. "We still won on both occasions!"

"I never said they were good at it."

"That's ludicrous!" I scoffed. "I suppose you think the same revisionists had King Harold killed in 1066 to assist the Norman invasion!"

But Dad wasn't laughing. He replied with some surprise:

"Harold? Killed? How?"

"An arrow, Dad. In his eye."

"English or French?"

"History doesn't relate," I replied, annoyed at his bizarre line of questioning.

"In his eye, you say? Time is out of joint," he muttered, scribbling another note.

"What's out of joint?" I asked, not quite hearing him.

"Nothing, nothing. Good job I was born to set it right—"

"Hamlet?" I asked, recognizing the quotation.

He ignored me, finished writing and snapped the notebook shut, then placed his fingertips on his temples and rubbed them absently for a moment. The world joggled forward a second and refroze as he did so. He looked about nervously.

"They're onto me. Thanks for your help, Sweetpea. When you see your mother, tell her she makes the torches burn brighter-and don't forget to try and dissuade her from painting the bedroom."

"Any color but mauve, right?"

"Right."

He smiled at me and touched my face. I felt my eyes moisten; these visits were all too short. He sensed my sadness and smiled the sort of smile any child would want to receive from their father. Then he spoke:

"For I dipped into the past, far as SpecOps-12 could see—"

He paused and I finished the quote, part of an old ChronoGuard song Dad used to sing to me when I was a child.

"—saw a vision of the world and all the options there could be!"

And then he was gone. The world rippled as the clock started again. The barman finished his sentence, the birds flew onto their nests, the television came back on with a nauseating ad for SmileyBurgers, and over the road the cyclist met the asphalt with a thud.

Everything carried on as normal. No one except myself had seen Dad come or go.

I ordered a crab sandwich and munched on it absently while sipping from a mocha that seemed to be taking an age to cool down. There weren't a lot of customers and Stanford, the owner, was busy washing up some cups. I put down my paper to watch the TV when the Toad News Network logo came up.

Toad News was the biggest news network in Europe. Run by the Goliath Corporation, it was a twenty-four-hour service with up-to-date reports that the national news services couldn't possibly hope to match. Goliath gave it finance and stability, but also a slightly suspicious air. No one liked the Corporation's pernicious hold on the nation, and the Toad News Network received more than its fair share of criticism, despite repeated denials that the parent company called the shots.

"This," boomed the announcer above the swirling music, "is the Toad News Network. The Toad, bringing you News Global, News Updates, News NOW!"

The lights came up on the anchorwoman, who smiled into the camera.

"This is the midday news on Monday, May 6, 1985, and this is Alexandria Belfridge reading it. The Crimean Peninsula," she announced, "has again come under scrutiny this week as the United Nations passed resolution PN17296, insisting that England and the Imperial Russian Government open negotiations concerning sovereignty. As the Crimean War enters its one hundred and thirty-first year, pressure groups both at home and abroad are pushing for a peaceful end to hostilities."

I closed my eyes and groaned quietly to myself. I had been out there doing my patriotic duty in '73 and had seen the truth of warfare beyond the pomp and glory for myself. The heat, the cold, the fear, the death. The announcer spoke on, her voice edged with jingoism.

"When the English forces ejected the Russians from their last toehold on the peninsula in 1975, it was seen as a major triumph against overwhelming odds. However, a state of deadlock has been maintained since those days and the country's mood was summed up last week by Sir Gordon Duff-Rolecks at an antiwar rally in Trafalgar Square."

The program cut to some footage of a large and mainly peaceful demonstration in central London. Duff-Rolecks was standing on a podium and giving a speech in front of a large and untidy nest of microphones.

"What began as an excuse to curb Russia's expansionism in 1854," intoned the MP, "has collapsed over the years into nothing more than an exercise to maintain the nation's pride . . ."

But I wasn't listening. I'd heard it all before a zillion times. I took another sip of coffee as sweat prickled my scalp. The TV showed stock footage of the peninsula as Duff-Rolecks spoke: Sebastopol, a heavily fortified English garrison town with little remaining of its architectural and historical heritage. Whenever I saw these pictures the smell of cordite and the crack of exploding shells filled my head. I instinctively stroked the only outward mark from the campaign I had — a small raised scar on my chin. Others had not been so lucky. Nothing had changed. The war had ground on.

"It's all bullshit, Thursday," said a gravelly voice close at hand.

It was Stanford, the caf? owner. Like me he was a veteran of the Crimea, but from an earlier campaign. Unlike me he had lost more than just his innocence and some good friends; he lumbered around on two tin legs and still had enough shrapnel in his body to make half a dozen baked bean tins.

"The Crimea has got sod all to do with the United Nations."

He liked to talk about the Crimea with me despite our opposing views. No one else really wanted to. Soldiers involved in the ongoing dispute with Wales had more kudos; Crimean personnel on leave usually left their uniforms in the wardrobe.

"I suppose not," I replied noncommittally, staring out of the window to where I could see a Crimean veteran begging at a street corner, reciting Longfellow from memory for a couple of pennies.

"Makes all those lives seem wasted if we give it back now," added Stanford gruffly. "We've been there since 1854. It belongs to us. You might as well say we should give the Isle of Wight back to the French."

"We did give the Isle of Wight back to the French," I replied patiently; Stanford's grasp of current affairs was generally confined to first division croquet and the love life of actress Lola Vavoom.

"Oh yes," he muttered, brow knitted. "We did, didn't we? Well, we shouldn't have. And who do the UN think they are?"

"I don't know but if the killing stops they've got my vote, Stan."

The barkeeper shook his head sadly as Duff-Rolecks concluded his speech:

". . . there can be little doubt that the Czar Romanov Alexei IV does have overwhelming rights to sovereignty of the peninsula and I for one look forward to the day when we can withdraw our troops from what can only be described as an incalculable waste of human life and resources."

The Toad News anchorwoman came back on and moved to another item-the government was to raise the duty on cheese to 83 percent, an unpopular move that would doubtless have the more militant citizens picketing cheese shops.

"The Ruskies could stop it tomorrow if they pulled out!" said Stanford belligerently.

It wasn't an argument and he and I both knew it. There was nothing left of the peninsula that would be worth owning whoever won. The only stretch of land that hadn't been churned to a pulp by artillery bombardment was heavily mined. Historically and morally the Crimea belonged to Imperial Russia; that was all there was to it.

The next news item was about a border skirmish with the People's Republic of Wales; no one hurt, just a few shots exchanged across the River Wye near Hay. Typically rambunctious, the youthful president-for-life Owain Glyndwr VII had blamed England's imperialist yearnings for a unified Britain; equally typically, Parliament had not so much as even made a statement about the incident. The news ground on, but I wasn't really paying attention. A new fusion plant had opened in Dungeness and the president had been there to open it. He grinned dutifully as the flashbulbs went off. I returned to my paper and read a story about a parliamentary bill to remove the dodo's protected species status after their staggering increase in numbers; but I couldn't concentrate. The Crimea had filled my mind with its unwelcome memories. It was lucky for me that my pager bleeped and brought with it a much-needed reality check. I tossed a few notes on the counter and sprinted out of the door as the Toad News anchorwoman somberly announced that a young surrealist had been killed — stabbed to death by a gang adhering to a radical school of French impressionists.

Copyright © 2002 by Jasper Fforde

What Our Readers Are Saying

Add a comment for a chance to win!
Average customer rating based on 21 comments:

Angela McGreevey, March 1, 2014 (view all comments by Angela McGreevey)
This is the first book in the Thursday Next series. Next is a former soldier, working for LiteraTech as a special ops literary detective. The book takes place in a some what futuristic 1985. Thursday finds herself in the middle of a dangerous case involving criminal mastermind Acheron Hades. Thursday will do anything to save her family and beloved books from Hades. This book is a fun detective fiction read , with a strong, relatable female character in the lead.
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No
Amb Crist, August 30, 2012 (view all comments by Amb Crist)
The entire oeuvre of Jasper Fford is a pleasure not to be missed, but The Eyre Affair is an excellent place to start. Yes, that's Eyre as in the beloved Austin novel which is in peril. Enter Thursday Next, a heroine of wit and style, employed as a literary detective. Next is as hardboiled as Spade and as genteel as Marple, but her tongue remains firmly in her cheek and she leaves no malapropism unturned in her pursuit of literary justice. Behind the scenes, great literature is a hotbed of characters and plots requiring vigilance and intervention to maintain the author's intent, or something like it. Everyone who reads, whether it's the Sunday funnies or cherished classics, will find something in Fford's work that gets them where they live. Be warned that addiction to Fford is likely, but his website helps ease the pain of waiting for his next case file.
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No
Sophie Pattison, August 5, 2012 (view all comments by Sophie Pattison)
Jasper Fforde is a genius. If you love to read, as I'm assuming you do if you're taking the time to read this comment, you will love this book. Particularly if you've read many of the English classics. Fforde is a great one for references, and I've got to tell you there's nothing that makes you feel smarter than understanding a good literary pun. Not only that, but Thursday Next is a delightful character who gets into all kinds of sticky situations with characters such as Millon de Floss, Jack Schitt, Hamlet, and Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday Next. Even if you don't get all the references (which, I can assure you, I did not) it's still a great mystery novel and an all around well written book.
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No
View all 21 comments

Product Details

ISBN:
9780142001806
Author:
Fforde, Jasper
Publisher:
Penguin Books
Author:
Duerden, Susan
Location:
New York, N.Y., U.S.A.
Subject:
General
Subject:
Fathers and daughters
Subject:
Fantasy fiction
Subject:
Wales
Subject:
Censorship
Subject:
Characters and characteristics in literature
Subject:
Crimean War, 185
Subject:
Alternative histories
Subject:
Mystery & Detective - Women Sleuths
Subject:
Literature-A to Z
Copyright:
Edition Number:
1st American ed.
Edition Description:
Trade paper
Series:
Thursday Next Novels
Series Volume:
#1
Publication Date:
20030231
Binding:
TRADE PAPER
Grade Level:
from 12
Language:
English
Pages:
400
Dimensions:
7.70x5.10x.72 in. .58 lbs.
Age Level:
from 18

Other books you might like

  1. Lost in a Good Book (Thursday Next...
    Used Trade Paper $5.95
  2. The Well of Lost Plots: A Thursday...
    Used Trade Paper $7.95
  3. First Among Sequels (Thursday Next...
    Used Hardcover $5.50
  4. Moving Pictures (Discworld Novels) Used Mass Market $5.50
  5. Dirk Gently Omnibus New Hardcover $31.00
  6. By a Lady: Being the Adventures of...
    Used Trade Paper $9.95

Related Subjects

Featured Titles » Genre
Fiction and Poetry » Literature » A to Z
Fiction and Poetry » Mystery » A to Z
Fiction and Poetry » Science Fiction and Fantasy » A to Z
Fiction and Poetry » Science Fiction and Fantasy » Fantasy » Contemporary

The Eyre Affair (Thursday Next #01) Used Trade Paper
0 stars - 0 reviews
$7.75 In Stock
Product details 400 pages Penguin Books - English 9780142001806 Reviews:
"Staff Pick" by ,

The Eyre Affair took me a little time to really get into, but once Thursday Next — a literary detective from the future — enters Charlotte Bronte's novel and tries to save Jane and the story, the book is thoroughly fun, with all the digs at the classics, the fantasy element, and the crazy names of the characters. It works for someone who enjoys the classics (like me) or for those who enjoy fantasy (like my husband). For me the best fun was re-reading Jane Eyre and knowing between which chapters Thursday visited and when the Japanese tourist arrived....

"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "Witty and clever, this literate romp heralds a fun new series set in a wonderfully original world." Publishers Weekly
"Review" by , "[Thursday Next is] part Bridget Jones, part Nancy Drew, and part Dirty Harry."
"Review" by , "The Eyre Affair is mostly a collection of jokes, conceits, and puzzles. It's smart, frisky, and sheer catnip for former English majors, a cross between Douglas Adams's A Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy and Jonathan Lethem's Gun, With Occasional Music, with a big chunk of The Norton Anthology of English Literature tossed in."
"Review" by , "An unusually sure-footed first novel, this literary folly serves up a generally unique stew of fantasy, science fiction, procedural, and cozy literary mystery — but in the end is more dancing bear than ballet."
"Review" by , "If you have read any of the classics of English Literature, you will feel strangely at home in the action-packed alternative universe of Thursday Next....Hectic, humorous...and most satisfying."
"Review" by , "So unusual you've got to read it to believe it; and please do."
"Review" by , "For five years, I dragged freshman boys kicking and screaming through Charlotte Brontë's Jane Eyre. It was torture ? part of the academy's "Nip a Love of Literature in the Bud" program. But finally, those plaintive cries have been answered: Through the miracle of literary-genetic engineering, Jasper Fforde has crossbred Jane Eyre with James Bond and Harry Potter....This is about as much fun as you can have in the classics section without being thrown out of the library. To those students who swore they wouldn't reread Jane Eyre 'til Hades freezes over, I have good news: He's out cold. Start reading." (read the entire Christian Science Monitor review)
"Synopsis" by , The New York Times bestseller is the first in a series of outlandishly clever adventures featuring the resourceful, fearless literary detective Thursday Next, renowned Special Operative.
"Synopsis" by ,

The first installment in Jasper Fforde’s New York Times bestselling series of Thursday Next novels introduces literary detective Thursday Next and her alternate reality of literature-obsessed England

Fans of Douglas Adams and P. G. Wodehouse will love visiting Jasper Fforde's Great Britain, circa 1985, when time travel is routine, cloning is a reality (dodos are the resurrected pet of choice), and literature is taken very, very seriously: it’s a bibliophile’s dream. England is a virtual police state where an aunt can get lost (literally) in a Wordsworth poem and forging Byronic verse is a punishable offense. All this is business as usual for Thursday Next, renowned Special Operative in literary detection. But when someone begins kidnapping characters from works of literature and plucks Jane Eyre from the pages of Brontë's novel, Thursday is faced with the challenge of her career. Fforde's ingenious fantasy—enhanced by a Web site that re-creates the world of the novel—unites intrigue with English literature in a delightfully witty mix. Thursday’s zany investigations continue with six more bestselling Thursday Next novels, including One of Our Thursdays is Missing and the upcoming The Woman Who Died A Lot. Visit jasperfforde.com.

spacer
spacer
  • back to top
Follow us on...




Powell's City of Books is an independent bookstore in Portland, Oregon, that fills a whole city block with more than a million new, used, and out of print books. Shop those shelves — plus literally millions more books, DVDs, and gifts — here at Powells.com.