Set in a silver sea: the glory of Britain’s islands

Islands always intrigue, hovering on the horizons of our imaginations – seen, according to your lights, as territories to be taken, ancient redoubts, repositories of secrets, even loci of lands of youth. Where there are no islands, we often imagine them – Plato’s Atlantis, the Celts’ Avalon, the Irish Hy-Brasil, Zeno’s Friseland, Columbus’s Antillia – and occasionally find them, like Terra Australis Incognita, postulated long before Europeans made landfall. Orkney was a trading station long before London, and Iona was the epicentre of Celtic Christianity Britain was once itself an imagined island – or rather islands plurally, called by Pliny Britanniae, one archipelago among others in the great geographer’s speculative

A visit from Neanderthals: The Red Children, by Maggie Gee, reviewed

This is the kind of novel that will be discussed jubilantly in the book clubs of places like Lib Dem north Oxford. It is a social polemic disguised as fiction. Maggie Gee’s concerns are topical: migration, global warming, ‘the virus’, colour prejudice and first nations. The Red Children will be selective in its appeal. Strange red people with large heads suddenly appear in Ramsgate, and stand about naked on the seafront The plot is a surreal fantasy set on ‘the edge of England’, in Ramsgate, where Gee lives. Strange red people with large heads turn up suddenly and stand about naked on the seafront looking out to the Channel or