This is a novel intended to address in fictional form key issues that face us as we start the new millennium. While the novel includes a wide range of material, often set out in great detail, it is not intended as a work of reference. Recommended shelving is not in the encyclopaedic section of your library, but rather among authors, alphabetically listed, such as Balzac and Victor Hugo, with whose work it has more in common than that of the modern French author, if only because it extends to more than two hundred and twenty pages. It is broken up into chapters so that you may skip the bits that offend moral sensibilities or religion, and the pages are numbered, so that if you loose your bookmark, you can find where you were without dog-earing the page.
The novel is populated by characters who would be on the darker side of the standoff so well depicted in Tolkien's Lord of the Rings if they featured in his work, which they do not. Each character has been uniquely crafted for this novel and is entirely fictional. Should any person construe a resemblance to himself, then the Author asserts that any such resemblance is entirely coincidental and would, at the same time, point out: first, that this person may be drawing attention to its own flawed character and venality; and further, that this person is probably a good candidate for closer inspection by the investigators of the Inland Revenue, some of whom the Author counts among his or her friends. (See also paragraph four of this Foreword).
The same is true of banks, accountancy and legal firms, and corporations which have been created as fictional entities for the purposes of this novel. If there were any resemblance to actual entities in the real world, which there is not, then the Author would be most concerned, and rightly concerned, about the ethics of the banking and accountancy professions, as also of the major corporations of the western world which contribute so much to the economic and social fabric of our society.
In certain cases real people and/or persons have been included; however, only in such cases as the Author has been able to establish that they are dead. The Author takes no responsibility for the cause or circumstances of such death, nor accepts any claims of consequential loss by their beneficiaries. Under English law it is not possible to defame the character of a dead person, or at least to be penalised for this. While it may appear somewhat atheistic to take the view that a corpse has no character, there is a clear pragmatic intent: how many cases should be tried in the English courts brought for the benefit of Attila the Hun? The more legally minded may cite nexus, suggesting Attila never came to England and was simply practicing genocide against non-Huns in Europe and Asia, but then you should consider that England has become part of Europe, colonised much of Asia and does have an Anglo-Saxon heritage, and there may be forebears who were victims. The Author wishes to point out that, for the benefit of those readers with less legal training than the Lord Chief Justice, lay terminology has been retained to handle these complex legal arguments, a style employed in much of the novel.
As to style generally, the Author has chosen to break with classical literary conventions and employs forms of expression which, he or she believes, may be more familiar to the modern audience. Thus, we may take, as an example, the opening lines of a hallucinatory religious scene that the Author has, in fact, cut from the novel. Rather than using the classical language set out in classical clause (a), he or she has chosen to use the more familiar new millennium language of new millennium clause (b). As a further break with classical tradition, but in line with more recent literature, the Author has included much trivial detail, which takes the story nowhere but adds authenticity, just like the metal stripe in your pound note or the hologram on your credit card. In this dream sequence a manifestation of Jehovah is about to enter Heathrow Terminal Three from the departure drop off point, in order to berate the miserable travellers who are delayed by air traffic control strikes. The comparison of styles follows:
Classical Clause (a): The Lord did enter the hall. He came among the people and thus spake his wrath.
New Millennium Clause (b): The automatic glass doors, striped with blue to avoid injury to travellers unused to modern western architecture, recognised his ectoplasm as a human form. They slid open to their full eight feet, allowing him through into the crowded airport departure hall, where international long haul flights were listed on flickering screens above the travellers heads. His harsh yell cut through the tannoy announcement.
Thanks are due to the many officials, government agencies and regulatory authorities without whom this novel could never have been written. The Author would like to thank in particular: the Pakistani customs and immigration services for the leisure time accorded upon every arrival at Karachi airport, which time would otherwise have been spent in the humdrum rat-race of modern business life, as also to their consistent acceptance of a negative response as to whether baggage contained alcohol; New Delhi air traffic control for keeping the Author on the ground for many hours, which is a far safer place to be than in the air when you are booked on certain airlines flying out of Delhi; the Iranian authorities who permitted the Author's plane to land in Teheran when the red light came on to indicate engine number four was on fire - admittedly it was not, and the journey could be resumed once the offending red bulb was disconnected, but had that not been the case and had landing permission not been granted, this novel could not have been written; the government of Singapore for apparently through an intermediary (whose credentials have not been checked) offering the Author a life-time supply of chewing gum and a subscription to the Economist, should the Author agree never to return; and we should not forget the Metropolitan Police and the Kent Constabulary, without whose devotion to duty your Author might have been mugged, stabbed or raped, which trauma could well have affected the development of the plot.
The extensive research for a modern novel requires significant travel. The Author would like to thank all those who have made this so much more bearable; in particular, the management and staff of those American hotel chains which have the courtesy to provide carpets in the lifts advising guests of the day of the week. Thanks are due to the many hotels around the world which have provided the Author with a bed for the night, as well as to those who would have provided a bed, if their reservation systems had worked and they knew the Author was arriving.
Above all the Author wishes to voice appreciation of the favourable reviews received from literary critics for his or her first novel, which hopefully will include the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Times, the Mail and the Scotsman. This list may require editing for the second edition. The Author would like to remind the Mirror of the promises made by Robert Maxwell of a favourable review even before the book was written, and to remind the Observer of similar discussions with Tiny Rowland.
Finally, it is the Author's practice to skip turgid forewords, so if, dear reader, you have made it this far, it looks as if you might be the type to get to the end of the book. Should you be able to evidence writing skills of at least secondary school standard, then please contact the Author about the cost of a franchise for writing the sequel.