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5. RANDOM QUEST

Interpreted one way, Einstein's special theory on the four-dimensional space-time continuum could mean that there are numerous other planes of existence on earth which are parallel to our own.

When physicist Colin Trafford is involved in a laboratory explosion, he regains consciousness in just such another plane of existence - one which, it seems, diverged from our own around 1937 and has been running parallel, though rather differently, ever since.  Hitler, for instance, had been assassinated in 1938.  Consequently no World War, no atom bomb, no Korea, no Truman - and less inflation.  Colin Trafford, having been born pre-1937, exists in both planes; so that this new world already has a profession, a home and a most attractive wife, Ottilie, waiting for him.  All of which is exceedingly confusing to him - as is the fact that he now has a moustache and a large bank balance.  True, he is a member of the same Club and recognises a couple of his other-world acquaintances.  But there the similarities end.  For, while it is apparent that this other-world Colin whose shoes he literally finds himself, has prospered as a famous journalist, he appears to have done so very much at the expense of his character. Colin finds himself regarded as an irresponsible, selfish adulterer plagued by a possessive mistress and with his marriage to Ottilie distressingly on the rocks.

Hopelessly in love with Ottilie from the moment he first meets her in their lavish Knightsbridge home, Colin finds her antagonism intolerable.  He dedicates himself to repairing their relationship; but at the very moment when it seems as though he is about to succeed, he blacks out, only to regain consciousness in his original plane of existence.

He becomes obsessed with the belief that his beloved Ottilie Harshom (her maiden name) must also have been born into and exist on this plane.  Certainly no-one has ever been christened with that name.  And not noe of the Harshoms living in England can offer any help.  Indeed eventually he begins to accept that his life in the other plane, must, as the doctors insist, have been nothing but an exceptionally vivid dream.

But then, following a last clue, he discovers that a fighter pilot named Harshom had a girl friend who bore him a daughter.  Had the pilot not been killed the child would have been christened Ottilie Harshom.  And indeed when Colin finally traces the girl, it is to find her the real Ottilie of his "dream".

Written by  John Wyndham
Dramatised by Owen Holder
Directed by Christopher Barry


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