(1997) Ian Watson, Victor Gallancz, hrdbk, pp 287 ISBN 0 575 06487
Ian Watson's latest is a strange one. Marcus Appius Silvanus is a Centurion of the Roman Empire. Snatched from his time to modern day Brittanicus, he is befriended by a brother and sister living in Milton Keynes, and becomes a celebrity after an unscrupulous freelance investigator bugs the home of Tom and Mary Ryan to reveal to the media the existence of the man from the past. Things become more complicated when it becomes apparent that not only MI5 and MI6, but the IRA are also linked to the whole affair. Watson is unmistakably English, and it really shows in the detail of this short novel. I find it refreshing to encounter an SF novellist willing to write so locally, but Watson's style has degraded slightly through the years and somehow I felt his edge has gone with it. Definitely worth a sip, but I can't claim it would be a vintage.
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