There's something odd about Simon. He lives two or three seconds ahead of everyone else. He tries to enter doors which haven't yet been opened, he answers questions before they are asked, and he can't have a normal conversation. Assumed to be retarded and clumsy, he withdraws into a hostile shell. Until the day he meets someone who understands his problem. She is a celestial seamstress who has come to explain to him that he has come unstitched from the fabric of time, and is facing a fate worse than death. His condition cannot be cured. And if it gets worse, he will drop completely out of linear time into a condition known as nowhen. We all know where nowhere is, because it isn't anywhere. But no-one knows about nowhen. Because no-one who has ever been there... has ever been.
This starts as a light, funny story but becomes tense and hair-raising as it examines the individual's place in time and illustrates the importance of relatonships and memory in determining who we are. Amazingly, the story is based on Einstein's Theory of Relativity, and anyone who reads it---whatever their age---gets a solid grounding in Einsteinian physics. "Twilight in the Land of Nowhen" is due to be released in 2006.
EINSTEIN FOR CHILDREN: That's how Twilight in the Land of Nowhen has been described. It's a book for nine to 14-year-olds based on one of the most complex, significant discoveries of all time: Albert Einstein's General Theory of Relativity.
'But first and foremost, it's meant to be a compelling, edge-of-your-seat adventure story, and I want readers to enjoy it on that level,' said author Nury Vittachi. 'If they come out understanding Einstein, that's a bonus at no extra cost.'
Twilight in the Land of Nowhen has got to be one of the most unusual books ever to hit the children's market. It tells the tragic story of Simon, a boy who is trapped in the future: but only three seconds in the future. Simon answers questions before they have been asked, tries to walk through doors before they are opened, and reaches for things before they handed to him. People assume he is crazy and clumsy, so he becomes hostile and isolated.
But the truth is that Simon has become slightly detached from the fabric of time. He receives guidance from a mysterious, angel-like figure, who explains how time works -- and what happens if his condition gets worse: Anyone who becomes detached from time drifts into Nowhen, a condition quite literally worse than death. If you die, you at least live on in people's memories. But if you drop out of time, it will be as if you have never existed. Every reference to you will vanish. 'Anyone who has been to Nowhen, has never been,' the angel tells him.
'This is probably the saddest children's book ever written,' the author admits. 'As well as explaining what the concept of time is, I wanted to make the reader experience the effect of mono-directional time on our lives: the book is really about memory, growing up, irreversibility and loss. I wanted to point out that a person doesn't completely die when he dies. He dies when he is forgotten.'
But it's also a funny, clever, mind-boggling, thoroughly enjoyable -- and has a happy ending. The result is a deeply touching, unforgettable story.
Albert Einstein makes a guest appearance, and the story explains real-life mysteries in that great scientist's life. Einstein came up with the theory of relativity in 1905 after having a vision or daydream about flying through space in a hover car at the speed of light holding a hand mirror. This story reveals how he came to have that experience.
There probably isn't another children's book on the market more emotionally compelling or more of a page-turner than Twilight in the Land of Nowhen.