The works of Philip Turner

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Read The NovelNight Flowers (1977)

This is the author's first novel. It was written in the late Seventies and it was so way ahead of its time that many publishers and literary agents were quite unable to get their heads round the central concept. After all, back in the Spendthrift Seventies when inflation was more or less compulsory government policy, who had heard of recycling? Who thought there was any money to be made out of retrieving useful materials from commercial and household refuse and using scrap combustible materials to generate electricity and hot water for industrial and domestic heating?
   More than twenty years after this book saw the light of day, a vicious war over control of the Refuse Reclamation industry seems quite reasonable, if not overdue. Even at the time of when this piece was written - in the last year of the 20th Century - Night Flowers was still well ahead of its time.
   The trilogy continues with Motive Power and concludes with The Charmian Effect.

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Motive Power (1978)

This is the authorís tenth novel, and a sequel of sorts to his first venture at length into the realm of fiction - Night Flowers. Begun toward the end of 1977, he completed the first draft about six months later, then tinkered with the text at various times over the next few years, reaching a definitive version at the end of 1984.
   There is another volume following Motive Power to complete the trilogy. The Charmian Effect is currently in production [Now through production - Ed.]. This set of novels was not intended to be a sequence. Rather, it is a series of loosely related stories in the same setting, and a limited number of characters re-appear in subsequent volumes to link the whole thing together.

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The Charmian Effect (1980)

The author's eleventh novel completes the sequence begun with Night Flowers Again, the story is set in and around Camerland and Norland and it follows the activities of some of the characters from the previous volume Motive Power and introduces some new ones.
   The Charmian Effect explores events around the lives of selected members of the devractigiering club. This exciting sport, introduced in Motive Power, continues to hold its fascination over the club members and the devrachtigiering sleds prove to have an unexpected practical use.


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The Adventure of the Dying Detective (1998)

This is another of the author's long works in the sense that 9 years went by between starting and finishing it. What he did in the end is amalgamate a number of separate ideas after realizing that they fitted together.
   Anyone looking for a jacket design is going to be disappointed as the author chose to bind his hardback proof copy in a fancy mock-leather case. We gather that he has 2 more cases available in different colours and he plans to use them for other books to give a part of his bookcase a different look.

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Calling Cards (1982)

Romiley Literary Circle's authors have always been interested in people with a unique talent and the effects that it could have on that person's life. Examples include this book and Free Flight by the same author, both from the early 80s, and Jon Gored's Dreamers of the Day and Prey, both from the late 90s/early 00s.
   The central character of this book has chosen not to exploit his talent - but he knows that this option is not one which he will be allowed to sustain. And so he has to find an acceptable solution to the problem of how to live his life on his own terms.

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The Cold Fire Of Madness (1991)

It's amazing how little can set an author off down the road to another book. This one began with a couple of real-life events - a gang of electricians rewiring a house and one of them finding an old newspaper. Then came a connection in the author's mind between the date of the newspaper and an anniversary coming up the following year.
   Out of a decision to mark the anniversary with something that was new and totally unexpected came The Cold Fire Of Madness, a book which connects terrible events across a single human lifetime.
   Looking back at it from the eve of the third millennium, which does begin in 2001, despite what the politicans and the newspapers would have us believe, the book has become a historical novel. It belongs in its time slot of 1987 but it charts a human nightmare which will never go away.

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Counting Out Time (1977)

One day, it all stops. Only it 'all stops' rather sooner for some than others. This early novel is, in part, an exploration of how one fairly ordinary person deals with the prospect of everything coming to a stop in the near future. The 'ordinary person' also finds himself interacting with others, who have put themselves in a life-threatening situation in the course of a criminal career.
   This novel has rather darker overtones than The Terminal Man. In the later novel, the action centres around the central character's over-reaction to a possibility. The events related in Counting Out Time all arise in response either to events which seem inevitable or an event which will happen.


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Descending Waves (1980)

This novel from the author's second decade of books is a campus novel - but one without all the tedium of those written by people who work, or have worked, in an arts-based university department. We all know who they are!
   There are no small-minded people manoeuvring and scheming to prove to everyone else that they are cleverer than the rest of us. What this book gives the reader is the working scientist's perceptions on life - objective, thought-out and, at times, totally weird. There are one or two parallels with Something In The Blood by Gordon Range and Henry Smith, but not too many.

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Dark Horses Run Deep (1981)

RLC authors usually have bits left over when they declare a book finished. Most of them tend to jot down ideas, try to blend them into the plot and then give up on some of them. Occasionally, they continue to add to the left-overs and a sequel appears.
   Even less frequently, their fellow authors read a book and then start asking "What happened next?" This is what happened with Descending Waves. It wasn't something that the author planned but he soon started asking himself the same question. And that's how Dark Horses Run Deep came to be written.


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Free Flight (1981)

That mention above about a tendency for RLC authors to include an element of weirdness in their books is quite true. Free Flight is out of the same box as Calling Cards, Connecting Thread and Jon Gored's Prey. It has also become a historical novel by default as it is set firmly in the 1980s.
   The theme of this book is moving out of one environment, meeting new people, getting to know them and watching them move on in their turn. The narrator choses to join a group with a fascinating hobby, which he shares. And then the hobby starts to affect their lives in an entirely unexpected way.

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Not To Be!

To be, or not to be,...
   – Hamlet, Prince of Denmark
Not to be!
   – Hamlet, Prince of Darkness

The Millennium Dome and the whole bogus millennium change junket foisted on the British nation by the Blair regime has received a lot of attention from Romiley Literary Circle members. Some of them began a communal treatment of the Dome issue by destroying part of it. Philip Turner chose to retain it. Well, sort of.
   This novel came from to the 'mad scientist' side of the author's personality. He has combined characters from Shakespeare with high-tech stuff and the usual political skulduggery and authority-baiting which pervade his output. The central characters have been described as 'totally sinister while being totally disarming'.

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On Borrowed Time (1986)

The author had the idea for this book quite early in his writing career - it was his second start in the field of novel-writing - and he spent about eleven years messing about before he finished it.
   Okay, he wrote a lot of other stuff in the meantime, but the other members of the Circle were betting that On Borrowed Time was destined to be the author's great unfinished work. But the nagging finally paid off and the messing about stopped with a definitive version in 1986. Of course, when this edition was produced as a hardback book by Farrago & Farrago, there was a whole lot more messing about, but that's writers for you!

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Observe & Report (1977)

This is the author's sixth novel and his second finish. It is set during England's long, hot, dought summer of 1976 and it charts the fortunes of one of the workers in the Security Service - one of the people who actually go out and do things rather than formulating grand strategies in their office.
   The author turned revising this book almost into a hobby, making it bigger and better, and integrating it into the span of his work by including characters from other novels and using the characters in this book in other works. But the messing about came to a stop in 1997, when this definitive softback edition was prepared.

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Roundabout (1981)

There is a tendency for the RLC authors to write sequels, and not always in the expected direction. This author started his personal deviations with the Night Flowers sequence by using some of the characters in subsequent books.
   In this sequence based on the Security Service, he expanded the roles of some of the protagonists in Observe & Report and In The Quiet Of His Room [Volume 3 of the Windrell Sequence] and gave them three further appearances.
   Just as the other works were set in at particular point in English history, Roundabout is set in the late summer of 1979, when Lord Louis Mountbatten was murdered by Irish terrorists, the Yorkshire Ripper was still at large and the Large Blue butterfly was declared extinct.

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The Red Star Brigade (1983)

The third part of the G11 sequence is set in the first half of 1981 - at around the time of the first launch of the first of NASA's Space Shuttle fleet and against a backround of riots in British cities. As before, Colonel Johnstone and Commander Palmer are still fencing, but their rivalry takes an unexpected turn.

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The Savage Jaw (1985)

The final [at the moment] part of the G11 tetralogy is set in the spring of 1984 - The Year of the Diplomat as Assassin. The book was converted to bound volume form as the consequences of the September 11 terrorist attacks on symbols of Western civilization in the U.S.A. were still unfolding.
   There has been much recent speculation on how the agents of terror recruit their foot-soldiers and persuade them to perform their missions of death. That issue and a number of pertinent others were explored in this book back in 1984/85. In fact, the period following 2001/09/11 resembles very much a replay of 1984.
   During the production work, the author was surprised to learn, from reading the book, that the then president of the USA [Ronald Reagan] had authorizing pre-emptive strikes against terrorists inside and out of the U.S in the spring of 1984 as a rather belated official response to the truck-bombing of the US embassy in Beirut embassy in October of 1983. He's now wonderering if anyone remembered National Security Decision Directive One-Three-Eight on 2001/09/11.

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Read The NovelPass The Parcel (1984)

Some books go on for 280,000 words - usually ones written by Jon Gored. This one gets there in just 54,000 words. It's just a straight, entertaining adventure story with no ambitions to be an exploration of how people's lives change over a year or more in extraordinary circumstances. Yes, Jon, we're still talking about you. This is one of the author's quick fixes - out of the same box as Alan Marshall's Connecting Thread and Henry Smith's Death In Small Corners [minus the 4 sequels].

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Sounds Carried On the Breeze (1978)

The author's earliest novel-length descent into weirdness was begun in the late Seventies and went through two major rewrites and a complete change of title before appearing in the present form under its original title.
   Most of the rewriting and restructuring was to do with the author looking for ways to present two distinct but closely similar contexts for the story. As hacked out on an ordinary typewriter, his options were limited and the lines of discontinuity were obvious - too obvious.
   The arrival of PCs and typography allowed him to achieved the desired effect much more subtly for a hardback edition of the book, which was printed some 23 years after he completed the first draft.

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Storm Tide (1991)

The story begins with a couple of introductory pages of history from the time of the Spanish Armada [1588 and all that] onwards, then gets on with a robbery in modern times [well, 1984 - when the book was written].
   In fact, the book is all about two sets of people, who are out of the main stream of life for one reason or another. Each group has its preoccupations, and the activities of Jeremy Haig and his friends become of interest to the guys who carried out the robbery - the Fantony brothers.
   Some readers have expressed surprise at how the interactions between Haig and Barry Fantony progress. They report being satisfied with the outcome when they reached the end of the book but surprised to find out that what they were expecting to happen never does.
   But that's life all over.

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Read The NovelThe Terminal Man (1989)

Man with terminal condition, not incapacitated as yet, seeks hazardous work for highest pay.
BOX 315

The novel starts with a possible over-reaction to a piece of bad news. And the central character proceeds to get involved in the sort of fun and games appropriate for someone who thinks he could be on the way out.
   There are echoes of the earlier Counting Out Time but the author's tone is much less stark this time. In addition, he seems to be doing his bit for the Greek National Tourist Board in this volume. But that's writers for you. They can't go anywhere without taking copious notes so they can shove it in a book.


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The Windrell Sequence

This sequence began as an exercise in writing a work of contemporary history, which needed context and got it. It is the story of the Windrell family from the sixteenth century to about the third quarter of the 20th century, and then life (mainly) in England from 1971 onwards.
   The author has sketched out Volumes 1 & 2, which cover the lives and times of the first 16 earls Windrell. The series then continues with a focus on a member of a cadet branch of the family; Richard Rhynn-Windrell; who gives view of the family's modern history from a slightly remote perspective.
   The master plan is for 17 volumes. Whether that will work out or not, no one knows. But the author is currently working on Volume 11, having completed Volumes 3-10.

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