John Taylor just discovered his long-gone mother created the Nightside--the darkheart of London--and intends to destroy it. To save his birthplace, he will travel back through a very distant--and probably deadly--past.
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August 29, 2005
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Excerpt from Paths Not Taken by Simon R. Green
There Are Reasons Why I Never Go to My Office
There's never enough time in the Nightside, which is odd, because you can buy everything else. I had much to do and enemies on my trail, so I went walking through the streets of the Nightside, and was surprised to see the streets cringe away from me. People, and others, were giving me even more room than usual. Either the news about my mother's identity was already getting around, or they'd heard that the Authorities had finally declared open season on me, and no-one wanted to be too close when the hammer came down.
The night sky was brilliant with stars, laid out in constellations never seen outside the Nightside, while the full moon was a dozen times larger than most people are used to. The air was hot and sweaty like a fever room, and all around gaudy neon blazed come-ons for every kind of sin and temptation. Music drifted out the propped-open doors of every kind of club, from the slow moaning of saxophones to the very latest throbbing bass beats. Crowds surged up and down the pavement, faces alight at the prospect of getting their hands on something they weren't supposed to. Pleasures, and other things, that the outside world would never approve of. It was three o'clock in the morning, just like always, and the Nightside was jumping.
Dreams and damnations at marked-down prices, and a little shop-soiled.
I was on my way to visit my office. I'd never been there before, and was quite looking forward to seeing what it looked like. My teenage secretary Cathy (she adopted me after I rescued her from a house that tried to eat her, and no, I didn't get a say in the matter) set up the office for me after I came into some serious money. (I tracked down the Unholy Grail for the Pope. I also started an angel war in the process, but that's the Nightside for you.) Cathy ran my office and my business with frightening efficiency, and I was happy to let her do it. Being organised has always been an alien concept to me, along with regular exercise, clearing up after myself, and remembering to do the laundry.
But this night I was considering a course of action that was dangerous in a whole bunch of ways that were new even to me, and I felt the need for some serious research and advice. If I was going to get at the truth about who and what my mother really was, I was going to have to go back through Time, to the very beginnings of the Nightside, more than two thousand years ago. And that meant talking to Old Father Time, that immortal incarnation who was scarier and far more powerful and more dangerous than I would ever be.
Still, forewarned was hopefully fore-armed, and I had some truly powerful computers on my side. They were supposed to be Artificial Intelligences from some potential future, on the run from something they preferred not to talk about. Cathy picked them up in a really good deal, the details of which she preferred not to discuss. Business as usual, in the Nightside. The AIs put up with being owned and used because they were datavores, information junkies, and they'd never seen anything like the Nightside.