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ex­pe­ri­enced be­fore. Ce­sare be­gins to see sim­i­lar­i­ties be­tween him­self and his men­tor but it is when he is work­ing as a hospi­tal or­derly dur­ing univer­sity stud­ies in Bologna that he comes across dis­turb­ing ev­i­dence of what ac­tu­ally con­nects them and is in­tro­duced to a sci­en­tific con­spir­acy that prom­ises noth­ing less than eter­nal life.

The lay­ers of the novel are com­plex and in­trigu­ing, start­ing with a mod­ern frame in which a screen­writer turns a re­cur­ring dream into a script and is ac­cused of pla­gia­rism. The reader’s in­ter­est is main­tained through a range of well-re­alised scenes, from the at­mo­spheric hor­rors of sul­phur min­ing via do­mes­tic tran­quil­lity on a Sicilian coun­try es­tate and ro­mance in Paris to the cli­max which sees the screen­writer step from the frame and take his place in Ce­sare’s story. The brave new worlds of spec­u­la­tive fic­tion are of­ten

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