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When the World and I Were Young...
The Unicorn Girl
Michael Kurland
..there was a brilliant trilogy by three different authors.

This is the second volume, and may well be the best considered strictly as a novel - - that is, as a coherent story that succeeds by narrative technique, plot and storytelling, as opposed to the FIRST book, Chester Anderson's "The Butterfly Kid", which fires off so many fireworks, jokes, wacko characters, warped logics and assorted whiz-bangs that one merely goes along, helplessly laughing, for the ride, or T.A.Waters's third book in the series, "The Probability Pad", which is well-worth reading if only for one of the most wonderful Dracula sequences ever set on paper (not to mention "Altamont" and "Dr Hudson").

Kurland has always reveled in alternate universes (his continuations of Randall Garrett's "Lord Darcy" stories, set in an alternate universe where the Plantagenets are still on the throne and magic works do full justice to Garrett's concepts and characters), and here he takes the idea and runs with it. Some of the alternate realities his characters (who are, naturally, himself, Chester and [picked up halfway] T.A.) go through are semi-rational, some are simply hilarious. I first read this book many years ago; i have never forgotten the class of earnest dragonettes learning the story of "Ethyl the Martyr and The Man In The Tin Suit", nor the sentence that contains three unjustified assumptions in as many words...

Their mutual friend Randall Garrett based his briliant wizard Sir Thomas Leseaux on T.A.Waters, and Kurland takes us through Garrett's universe on the trip, by the way. He also plays a neat little trick with the inherent possibilities of alternate universe travel that i had never thought of nor encountered elsewhere, having to do with just how close adjacent alternate universes can be.

Wonderful book. Read it. Read it AFTER "The Butterfly Kid", if you can (though "Kid" seems to be out of print again) and try to read "Probability Pad" afterward.

(Sadly, Chester and T.A. have, in Kinky Friedman's evocative phrase, stepped on a rainbow, and we can expect no new books from them; Kurland, however, seems to be still active, with Holmesiana -- including editing a collection of original Holmesian pastiches -- and at least two 1930s-set mysteries. Find anything he has written -- particularly "Transmission Error" and "Pluribus" and read them; i doubt that you will be disappointed. A warning, however -- virtually everything he writes reads like the first volume of a series you'd enjoy... but he never seems to write the sequels.)