Eric Linklater’s brilliant new novel tells the story of a double existence. Evan Gaffikin, sixtyish, grumpy and bored with his dull commercial success, discovers and develops his power to dream: to dream in such depth and in such glowing reality that he is able to escape his ordinary existence. Scenes from Gaffikin’s real life alternate with his surrealistic, vivid, and often hilariously bawdy forays into the world of unreality. As his dream-world and its remarkable characters gradually get the upper hand, the tension of the novel rises, ending in a climax on a yacht off the Hebrides.
A Terrible Freedom could, perhaps, be described as an idiosyncratic venture into the realm of science fiction; but it may be preferable to see it as a conventional novel built with classical composure of unconventional material. Either way it is a tour de force of imagination and narrative skills.