Views & Reviews Between the Lines

Death by appointment

BMJ 2010; 341 doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmj.c5363 (Published 29 September 2010) Cite this as: BMJ 2010;341:c5363
  1. Theodore Dalrymple, writer and retired doctor

We normally associate Anthony Trollope (1815-82) with high class literary soap operas about English clerical and British political life rather than with science fiction. But in 1881 he wrote a short novel, The Fixed Period, that was set 100 years in the future and that described contrivances that allowed the instantaneous transmission of information across the world a little like the internet.

The purpose of his book, however, was satirical. It is set in a former British colony in the South Seas, now an independent republic, called Britannula, and is narrated by its first president, Mr Neverbend. The Fixed Period of the title is 67 years, at which age the citizens …

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