Yesterday Never Dies: A Romance of Metempsychosis by Brian Stableford Published by Wildside Press 2013
This is a new book in Brian’s series about Auguste Dupin, following on from The Legacy of Erich Zann, Valdemar’s Daughter, The Mad Trist, The Quintessence of August, The Cthulhu Encryption and Journey to the Core of Creation.
The story begins on October 31st 1847. For once, Sam Reynolds starts off by having an adventure of his own while Dupin is unexpectedly needed elsewhere. A ghost informs Sam that “Yesterday never dies, but such is the rhythm of time that one has to grasp its echoes on the wing.” Later on, Sam, Dupin, Pierre Chapelain the physician, Lucian Groix the Prefect of police, the so-called Comte de Saint-Germain, Jana Valdemar and the famous dancer Marie Taglioni all set off on a journey into Broceliande, the forest of the imagination.
They have with them a representation of the magic branch from the dance of the nuns in the opera Robert le Diable. Saint-Germain, president of the Harmonic Society of Paris, thinks he understands what’s going on. He is sure that Robert le Diable is also Oberon the Fay and that the magic branch can bring about the restoration of faerie.
Of course, things are really far more complicated than Saint-Germain imagines. This is not a story that ends with satisfactory explanations for everything, it is a story about remembering that there are always things we cannot understand. In 1847, scientific understanding of the role of microscopic organisms in infectious disease was in its early stages, providing a sense of the interdependent nature of organic life, so much of which has yet to be understood. But even though human understanding can only ever grasp echoes on the wing, it is still worth trying to apply as much artistry as possible when taking part in the dance.
In the end, it falls to Sam the narrator to write down his own perception of events, even though he knows that to his readers, he himself will only be an echo.