The story continues the adventures of the interdimensional detective introduced in The Wooden Baby and Dead Wolf in a Hat. This time, industry tycoon Theo Carr needs a P.I. to keep tabs his wayward son. The trail leads our hero into a den of vice and leaves him blocking his ears against the fatal song of the syren. Only his old friend Jimmy the Griff can help – if Jimmy can stop careering through time, that is.
Syren took my dimension-dabbling gumshoe deeper into the city backstreets than he’d gone before. That’s because the weird and wonderful environment of String City was expanding in my head, becoming more real. The genre collision continued too, with time-travel and brane geometry adding a little SF to the mix.
- “Entertaining with innovative world-building” – TangentOnline
- “Well handled [with] cleverly sketched in fantastical background” – Locus
Extract from Syren
The map’s one of those gimmicky new p-brane affairs. The front of the map shows the usual four dimensions, but if you look at it sideways you can see all the other seven dimensions folded up neatly inside. You can zoom in and out and overlay the map with all kinds of fancy stuff like weather, traffic and continental drift. Also, it lights up.
The address Silverback had given me turned out to be at the centre of a local industrial hell-hole. I got a sinking feeling. I highlighted the location with a floating wormhole and activated the map’s personality.
‘Satellite view,’ I said.
‘Oh, if you insist,’ the map replied. ‘Although you do realise that my first priority, given that you have already selected a destination, is to compute your optimum route and estimated journey time …’
‘Just do it,’ I said, ‘or I’m trading you in for a road atlas.’
The satellite view showed a sprawling industrial complex surrounded by clouds of dense, yellow smoke and jags of lightning. From the middle of a forest of fat chimneys and fusion globes rose a bright ivory tower. At the top the tower, picked out in orange neon, was a logo I recognised at once: a ‘C’ in a circle.
‘Theo Carr!’ I said. ‘No wonder Silverback wants it kept quiet. Whatever it is.’
‘May I suggest,’ said the map, ‘that you begin you journey by walking three point two metres due north, opening your office door, then turning due east before walking another seventeen metres to the ‘Stop’ sign beside the delicatessen, after which …’
‘May I suggest,’ I growled, ‘that you keep your p-brane to yourself and let me get on with my job?’
I snatched a pin from the tray and jabbed it into the wormhole. The map yelped. Served it right.
I peered at the satellite view, wondering what that nasty yellow smog was made of. I was taking no chances. I turned my coat inside-out three times until it was woven from slow-lead – with an extra layer of gamma ray block – and put it on. Then I climbed on to the pin, made a fifth-level origami fold and tossed myself like a paper dart into the heart of Theo Carr’s electrical kingdom.