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The Book of the Enemy was the third story in the 2018 Faction Paradox anthology The Book of the Enemy. It was written by Andrew Hickey.

Summary[edit | edit source]

Pre-Narrative Briefing[edit | edit source]

Briefing C

Story[edit | edit source]

The narrator discusses how he is a member of a gentleman's club, a gentleman's club which has cards, billiards, a wine cellar, and a library. Tom was a fan of these books, but himself preferred a tall tale. There was a tradition, once a month, in the club on a certain day, for members of the club to tell an outlandish story for everyone. The oldest member of the club stands, who has never before spoken, and says that he expects to die in the next few days. So he intends to tell this tale before then, concerning a man he's sure many will consider fictional, Sherlock Holmes.

Holmes at this time was getting on in years and in declining health, having parted ways with Watson, who he had complained about only reporting the exciting cases, and not the ones where he sat back, asked a question or two, and had the solution. "Tom", he says to the old man who was at the time young, "Am I becoming senile?" When answered in the negative, he expresses dismay, for he calls a land in a fiction book nonfictional. He decides to investigate. Tom goes away for some time, but returns with a telegraph telling him to acquire a book from the British Museum called The Book of the Enemy by any means necessary. Tom heads to Baker Street and finds a note with instructions, but is dismayed to see that it calls him Watson, feeling for Holmes' sanity.

The instructions had Tom head to the Martian Embassy, wherein Holmes was chatting with the Martian Ambassador. The two felt that the book was the cause of both of their problems. When Tom inquired as to what problem the ambassador was referring to, he was shown through a telescope that the canals on Mars had disappeared. Holmes explains to Tom that they're living in a time of war, which Tom balks at, knowing nothing but peace recently between countries on Earth and Mars. But there are places other than those, and wars fought not with ships but, says Holmes, but with ideas reshaping reality.

When Tom woke up the next day, he read the morning paper to see a reality he didn't recognize. Russian Anarchist, Winston Churchill, and no Martians. He discussed with Holmes these occurrences, and found The War of the Worlds, which he thought was an account of history, while the author purported it to be a book of fiction. Holmes suggests that reality is changing because people are reading a specific book, The Book of the Enemy, which he intends to read. Tom instantly objected to this, as it would erase him from existence, but Holmes felt it was necessary, and that he could fight the perniciousness of the book more effectively as a fictional character. Tom kept an eye on his friend, even stories that were wholly fictional, and wondered if sometime he might do something worth becoming fictional over.

After the story was over, people asked Tom if any of it was true, including whether he would die or if they'd see him next week. Tom shrugged them off and said they'd hear from him sooner or later. The narrator went back to the club and found that the building had disappeared. Years later he found a book on a shelf, and it within it, it told the same story that Tom had told that night.

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