Scribblings from the hard shoulder of the Information Superhighway

The dangers of parallel universes

As even the casual reader may have determined, Im an avid reader. I devour books, and with the joys of about ten hours a week travelling on what used to be known as British Rail Im getting through a couple of paperbacks a week.

Last weekend I picked up a Dale Brown book. Ive read most of his books over the years, and for the most part Ive enjoyed then. Dale (as opposed to Dan) Brown is a former US Air Force pilot, and his knowledge and descriptions of air-borne warfare are probably second to none.

But…  and its a big but… his novels have been following a parallel Dale Brown Universe that is similar to ours, but increasingly different. The problem comes when you write about a fantastic new aircraft (such as the EB-52 Megafortress in 1987s Flight of the Old Dog) then youre committed to using it in subsequent novels.

By the time you get to 2004s Plan of Attack – which is the book Ive just finished – then the world his characters inhabit, the aircraft they fly, the weapons they use and the airforce they serve is so far removed from real life that they might just as well be flying monkeys scouring the skies of Oz for the Wicked Witch of the West.