These stories are dedicated to my parents both of whom have passed away. My mother was nursed through cancer by Macmillan Cancer Support. The ladies who helped were nothing like Mrs Beech in 'Schrodinger's Erection'. My equally wonderful father's time in Papua New Guinea is celebrated in 'The Conjuror's Assistant'. He too died from cancer.
These short stories were captured, like dreams at first light, before the breeze took them from us. Listen carefully and you'll hear them too. These tales, and their friends, are in the ether. There is more to life than meets the eye. But you know that. There is no correct order to read them in. Chronology is overrated. Treat them like stars and you will find constellations. Each story, with one exception, follows a pattern. You're smart, you'll get that very quickly.
'Who is the third', is a reference to Elliot's notes on The Wasteland. The poem is too challenging for direct reference, except for the Phlebas part, that is good advice. Elliot writes of an Antarctic expedition, possibly Shackleton's who, 'at the extremity of their strength, had the constant delusion that there was one more member than could actually be counted'.