Sunday, January 23, 2011


The cottage in which I grew up was the third in a row of four, with a large shared back garden that ran down to the ruins of a canal lock. A little way beyond was a station on a single-track branch railway line affectionately known as the Dudbridge Donkey.  Before the Beeching Act killed it off, small steam and diesel locomotives hauled goods trains back and forth; my route to primary school crossed the line and on my way back home I'd often see a locomotive rootling about with a few wagons in the truncated goods yard.  I've retained an abiding affection for railways ever since.

Before Lord of the Rings, there was the Chronicles of Narnia, written by Tolkein's fellow Inkling C.S. Lewis.  I read them over again when I was a child.  My favourite was the origin story, The Magician's Nephew.  It featured a wood between worlds where you could, by stepping into one or another of its many shallow pools, access alternate universes.

In the late 1960s, I loved to watch The Time Tunnel, a briefly-lived series created by Irwin Allen in which, as the opening narration of each episode put it:
"Two American scientists are lost in the swirling maze of past and future ages, during the first experiments on America's greatest and most secret project, the Time Tunnel. Tony Newman and Doug Phillips now tumble helplessly toward a new fantastic adventure, somewhere along the infinite corridors of time."
Murray Leinster, widely credited with the invention of parallel universe stories, wrote the tie-in novel.

Where do science-fiction writers get their crazy ideas?


Anonymous Al R said...

Good to hear you on the radio this morning - a good and serious discussion, I thought.

January 24, 2011 12:52 pm  
Blogger rhizome said...

Hi, Paul...

Sorry if i'm off topic here, but it's the only way i found to contact you...

i just created a new magazine (Yggdrasil Magazine), which will be a free pdf mag (in french), dealing only with SF, fantasy, noir ... and i'b be thrilled to be able to interview you about The Quiet War which was just released in french.
Could you please contact us at to tell us if you're ok...
thanks a lot, and again, sorry for the inconvenience on putting this request in comments,


Jean-Francois Micard

January 25, 2011 4:40 pm  
Anonymous talkie_tim said...

I definitely envisioned Time Tunnel's crazy swirlies while reading Cowboy Angels description of the gates.

January 26, 2011 11:56 am  
Anonymous rsatx said...

Actually Leinster wrote both a novel called Time Tunnel that may have inspired the tv series and at least one later tie-in novel for the series. Easily confused.

January 27, 2011 2:44 am  
Blogger Paul McAuley said...

I'm not confused, rsatx. At least, I don't think I am. That's the cover of the first Pyramid tie-in novel. Leinster wrote a second, The Time Tunnel: Timeslip!, which I don't own and haven't read. I confess that I haven't read Time Tunnel or another novel of his, Tunnel Through Time, either. But I have read his 'Sidewise in Time', which is widely credited as the first SF alternate worlds story...

NB Could Pyramid have recycled the Jack Gaughan cover of Time Tunnel (1964) for The Time Tunnel (1967)?

January 27, 2011 6:15 pm  

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