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A satirical science fiction fantasy about time travel.

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Old Rang lives in a cave on the edge of a time warp. His visitors include the Nottle villagers who believe he makes the sun rise every morning and a time traveller called Vince Yaga who is the least superstitious man in the universe.

Vince Yaga discovers Ruce Lemming, a character from an unfinished epic fantasy novel by Seferin Fane. Ruce is being stalked by a mutant lawnmower named Victor. After a variety of erroneous misadventures which involve an array of characters including Buggeroni, an inventor from Florence; his wife Florrida; Belinda Nort, an out of work actress; an old Fakir and Rod Singlet, a Nostralian Itinerant, Seferin is helped to finish his novel so that Ruce and everyone in the immediate vicinity, including the lawnmower can fulfil their respective destinies.


Old Rang was wise. You could tell that because he rarely spoke. Most people show their ignorance by speaking. Old Rang had discovered the time honoured principle that he who keeps mum gives nothing away. It also helps if you have a straggly beard and you can sit cross-legged for long periods.

People on all kinds of quests came to Old Rang for advice and guidance. He never told them anything they didn't want to hear and they rarely went away disappointed. In fact he never told them anything at all.

Rang lived in a cave. It was a partially renovated train tunnel that had collapsed, leaving a stoutly trussed entrance to a small chamber with a feature wall of broken rock and shattered timber. It was illuminated at night by five rusty oil lamps housing low wattage globes connected to mains electricity.

Old Rang's cave was situated on a fault line in a time warp where not only was time warped but reality was fractured as well. As a consequence Old Rang's visitors came from every dimension of time and space. It was like living at a crossroads near a big film studio. An executive with a briefcase on his way to work was likely to be followed by a Martian in the company of a Cowboy with a six gun and pretty girl in a leopard skin bikini. And one of them might be carrying an ornate silver sword that belonged to a cousin who was starring in a remake of Dugeons and Dragons.

Old Rang kept his mind sharp and his body thin on a diet of bran fibre and black carrot juice. His extreme flexibility came from the practice of Lastic Yoga taught to him by Swami Nutmeat from the Ashram of Togaboga. In one of his past lives, or possibly a future life, Old Rang had been a gigolo and as a form of karmic penance he had tied a knot in his singular appendage. This gave him the impressive ability to sit cross-legged and bolt upright for long periods of time thus enhancing his inscrutability. Not to mention being able to stay calm in the presence of attractive young women.

Sitting as he did at the crossroads of reality Old Rang became many things to many people. To the Nottle Tribe of East Nanglia who lived in the valley below his cave, Old Rang was the Grandfather of Time. Every morning the sun rose over his cave and the sound of his yodelling meditation carried across their village. They knew that if Old Rang slept in, so would the sun. Accordingly, for as long as anyone could recall they had practised the ritual of the dropped bucket every morning before sunrise. A member of the tribe reminded by a simple roster of notches on bamboo poles, was required to walk past Old Rang's cave yawning nonchalantly and drop a bucket at which he or she would curse, 'Odarn!' Old Rang thus awoken the rostered Nottle returned to the village and the tribe would be blessed with Rang's yodelling and yet another sunrise.

Whenever Vince dropped in to visit Old Rang he always brought a bottle of something. Whether it was toad wine from sixteenth century Transylvania or fortified raspberry vinegar from Venus of an indeterminate future date, they never failed to enjoy a convivial quaff and a bonhomious chat lasting into the early hours.

The first time Vince met Old Rang his rickety time capsule had skidded to a halt at the edge of the warp where past and future were disappearing like melted cheese down the little holes in a griller plate. The transistors in his time capsule had been glowing red and the hard drive of his main operating system spun like a vinyl record on heat.

'I damn near blew up,' he said later. 'The spacetime continuum differential was overloaded.'

He had left his time capsule with the parking lights on and introduced himself to the old man sitting at the entrance to the cave. They had shared the contents of Vince's nip flask of distilled Nepalese yak bile (12th century vintage) and Vince had got his first taste of Old Rang's method of discourse.

'I have just come from 2332.' Old Rang nodded.
'You're not surprised?'
Old Rang shook his head.


'You're familiar with time travel?'

Old Rang nodded again.

'It's nothing new where I come from either.'

Old Rang scratched his nose.

'Some people, Greenies mostly say it disturbs the equilibrium of the universe.'

Old Rang shifted on his cushion to relieve some intestinal pressure. He waved his hand by way of an apology.

'Yeah. I think that's a load of whatsiname too. There's usually a little protest group at the landing pad when I arrive home.'

Old Rang smiled.

'Misguided idealists. Mind you, I know I play with time travel at my own risk.'

Rang sniffed.

'Apart from the way my hair keeps changing colour, I've had no side effects.'

The two sat pondering this in Old Rang's silence.

Vince had left that day, highly impressed by Old Rang's sagacity. Old Rang had said nothing to dispel the impression.

Vince's visit today was purely business. He ignored Old Rang's frown when he failed to produce any form of liquid refreshment.

'I've just had a really weird experience,' said Vince. The word weird is used by most people to describe things unusual. Vince, having seen weird from both sides, used the word to describe events that were right off the Richter scale of anyone else's definition of weird.

'I was having a beer at the Sandgarden Hotel when in walks this character wearing a suit of armour.'

Rang was looking pointedly at Vince's shoulder bag.

'Now I know there's nothing unusual about a bloke in a suit of armour per se but let me tell you they don't often walk into the Sandgarden Hotel at three in the afternoon.'

Rang was still staring at the shoulder bag.

'You can appreciate how unsettling it was when I tell you I walked out without stopping at the bottle shop.'

Rang burped and looked away as if he had suddenly lost interest. 'You see my point.' Rang stared at a nearby rock.

'So, I don't know what to make of it,' Vince went on. 'Characters out of books and that's what I think he is, don't normally wander into Nostralian pubs and order pink Dakaris.'

Rang was humming softly to himself like someone who has run out of patience.

'Yeah, I know I look a bit out of place there myself. No need to rub it in. The point is, what am I going to do about it? Do I have a responsibility as a time traveller to at least notify the proper authorities?'

Rang's humming skipped a beat.

'You're right, there are no proper authorities. Authorities are limited to their own time and space.'

Vince suddenly had an idea.

'So, you're saying that I need to find the bloke who wrote the book and get him to put this character back where he belongs?'

Old Rang was silent.
'I should use my initiative. If you've said it once you've said it a hundred times.' Talking to Old Rang always made things clearer.

'Is it alright if I use your dunny?'

Old Rang's dunny was on a bit of slope. That was because it sat on a crack running out of the time warp fault line. Consequently sewerage was not a problem because everything that went into it ceased to exist.

When he was comfortable, Vince picked up a pile of papers from the floor and began to flick idly through them. He noticed the pages were numbered and that they began from page thirteen. The earlier pages had obviously gone to oblivion. On the pages was a story full of strange names. At the bottom of each page was the title of the story: The Green Rose: Chronicles of the Dark Lord.

Vince emerged from the dunny clutching the papers.
'This is the novel!' he told Old Rang. 'The one Ruce Lemming came from. It's not finished.'

Rang's inscrutable visage could easily have signified that of course he knew that. It was not unlike the look on the face of someone who has just eaten a very bland soup.


“I read this MS with an initial sense of excitement at the obvious facility with which the author can write. The style is reminiscent of the racy paciness of Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, and has just as much ability to carry a joke.”

Janet Blagg Fremantle Arts Centre Press