Saturday, 19 September 2009

Robert Appleton on The Basingstoke Chronicles

My newly released book, the time travel adventure The Basingstoke Chronicles is actually the first novel I wrote, back in 2005. I’d already written a few short stories and my debut poetry anthology, Mercurial Verse, but epic storytelling is what I’d always wanted to explore. The scope of grand adventure, mixed with intimate character moments, fired my imagination in my teens, when I spent rainy afternoons delving into the worlds of Victorian genre authors Wells, Verne, Burroughs, and H Rider Haggard.

Time travel in particular, fascinates me. The ideas are constantly in our faces, the opportunities tantalisingly out of reach. Time is such an intricate part of our everyday lives, yet we have absolutely no control over it.

What science fiction does so well is boil the universe down to two words: WHAT IF?

What if a dead body found floating off the coast of Cuba wore a strange garment? And what if the wool of that garment, while only twenty years old, came from an animal extinct for over nine thousands years?

A group of professional scuba divers, including Lord Henry Basingstoke and his friend, Rodrigo Quintas, eagerly search the ocean bed for clues. But when they find the secret of time travel in the deep, a fun vacation becomes an obsessive quest to be the first to solve the mystery. This involves a daring journey back through time, to a hidden land of rainforests, deadly creatures, and a doomed civilization. And the longer they stay, the more their adventure becomes, quite literally, a race against time.

In the early chapters, I wanted to introduce a very particular lifestyle, namely that of rich, bored pleasure-seekers whose pursuit of archaeological relics is less a burning passion, more a rite of privilege. For Lord Basingstoke, these treasure-seeking adventures around the globe are a fun hobby. Any true value in archaeology or history eludes him. A rebellious English aristocrat, he feels he has no real place in the late twentieth century, a time without magic, in which discovery is obsolete.

But finding the mysterious vehicle in the deep gives him a sense of purpose. For the first time in his life, he is in possession of something extraordinary. Discussing it with his closest friends only invigorates him further. Those exchanges are some of my favourite in the book—speculative, naïve, yet so passionate. He guards his discovery jealously, which leads to a fateful decision one night, when other interested parties are loitering nearby…

I won’t spoil anything of his adventure, but I will say that it was truly a vicarious thrill for me to write this journey of exploration. I could happily spend years wandering the hidden land of Apterona, learning its secrets. All I’d need is a very big rifle, Quatermain as a guide, and Jennifer Love Hewitt…for moral support.

Robert Appleton

The Basingstoke Chronicles is available now as an eBook at Uncial Press, priced $5.99

And at the following online booksellers:


Don’t forget to drop by in the coming weeks for a Basingstoke Chronicles contest or two, and your chance to win a free copy.

In the meantime, happy adventuring!

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