Serializations of the Hitherby Dragons novels

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– 5 –

– 5 –

The rain of scissors brings about the death of Hans, who hammered down the world into the shape of sense. On that day Jeremiah Sandiford transcends; his heart is made pure and his hands correct. On that day, conversely, young Linus Evans of Sussex falls into despair, knowing in an instant that there will be nothing good in all his life.

Jeremiah will become Jeremiah Clean, or “the cleaning man.”

Linus will become the antichrist.

Amelia Friedman, who is a renegade alchemist, discovers that her son Tom is destined to destroy the world. The young science adventurer has parasitic ophidian DNA grafted onto his own; he will one day go all snaky, warm the world, eradicate the human plague, and replace Earth’s dominant species with his own.

This seems to her to be an awfully lonely destiny, so she resolves to find other children like him and bring them into her home.

She adopts the antichrist Linus Evans. She invites young Edmund Gulley over to play. When she discovers that a young girl named Jane is living with a sun-eating wolf and has a possible destiny of destroying the world, herself, she interferes with the government’s plans to kill them both; using a combination of alchemy and influence, she has a shadowy government Agency kidnap Jane instead. These four children, and their cat Mouser, form the science adventuring “Doom Team,” whose motto is “You don’t have to die just because some people think your existence is evil.”

Eventually Amelia Friedman vanishes, their space princess assassin nanny Maria Souvante attempts to kill them all, and the Doom Team falls apart.

Jane, who’d survived Maria’s death ray by becoming a Taoist immortal, shuffles through a series of increasingly baroque and terrifying foster homes. She winds up living in Ipswich with Martin, a mysterious boy.

Tom investigates his mother’s disappearance but meets “the cleaning man” instead.

He emerges from the meeting human — his fate cut off, his future cut off, even the ophidian DNA in him swiffed right off his genes. Tom, feeling like he can no longer have science adventures, goes through a muddled and confusing time; but after an unpleasant and nearly-deadly encounter with space princess assassin Lucy Souvante, he rejects the idea of being normal and dabbles instead in the forbidden things. From the substances of dead hats, in the cemetery of the hats, he makes a graveyard hat, a corpse hat, a hat to make him better at hat-making. His early experiments are damaging: his guidance counselor tries on one of Tom’s hats and becomes first homicidal and then lethally apoplectic. His roommate Stephan tries one on and is broken. But the hats are addictive, or possibly woven through with destiny; Tom cannot, or at least does not, stop. The better the hats he makes, the better the hats he can make; the better the hats he can make, the better the hats he must make; and so he scales up towards hatpocalypse until at last he has built the final hat, the kether-hat, the crowning hat, a hat to be an answer to his original forbidden dream:

A hat to straighten its wearer’s inner fire, to refine them; to take a scattered and divided and mortal soul and concentrate it into a single pure and shining light.

He lowers it onto his head.

From that moment he is no longer Tom the science adventurer, at least, not exactly; nor Tom the moping milliner’s brat.

He is crowned Thomas the First, instead, head boy of the House of Dreams.

And Edmund is home with his father; and as for the antichrist, Linus Evans —

The government and the Papacy lock him up.



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