Echoes of fugitive laughter

Albertopolis DisparuTalk about slow-burning jokes. How about four-and-a-half years?

I gave an introductory talk about my work to staff and postgraduate students at King’s College London the other day, as a way of kicking off my new residency there. In talking about my Science Museum novel Shackleton’s Man Goes South, I mentioned that chapter one of the novel had first been published as a standalone chapbook by the Science Museum.

I showed a slide of the cover (right). That was when something unusual happened. Everyone got the joke. Everyone laughed.

I’ve done a fair few events since the story was published in 2009, but this was the first time that this has happened. In fact it could be the first time that anyone has laughed at the title ‘Albertopolis Disparu’.

Perhaps I should have expected it, though. My residency at King’s is in the French department, so — as a colleague pointed out to me — there were a lot of Proustian scholars in the audience.


The chapbook of ‘Albertopolis Disparu’ is no longer available, but Shackleton’s Man Goes South is free and DRM-free from the Science Museum website or from the display in the Atmosphere Gallery until April 2014.