The Wellsian scientific romance gets a vigorous retooling in this captivating mix of fantasy, science fiction and metaphysics from Stableford (The Carnival of Destruction, 1994). It is 1895, and in a London salon a group that includes, among others, Oscar Wilde, H.G. Wells, ""The Great Detective"" (aka Sherlock Holmes) and Dr. Watson, as well as secretive narrator Count Lugard, listens spellbound as scientist Edward Copplestone prophesies a future he glimpsed during three drug-induced trances that revealed to him a humanity that will have degenerated into a race of satyrs ruled by vampiric overmen. While Wells frets that his host has ""scooped"" the idea for his gestating novel, The Time Machine, and the others debate whether the foreseen era can be averted, a mystery with far-reaching ramifications for the human species unfolds before their unseeing eyes. Stableford conjures believable reactions from his historical celebrities. He also peppers the reader with more provocative ideas than many writers cram into a trilogy, the most mind-boggling of which is that ancient shamans may have taken drug trips similar to Copplestone's and translated their visions of the future into the vampire superstitions of yore that inspired Bram Stoker's Dracula. From its portentous opening on a fog-shrouded dueling field to the clever twist at its end, this novel offers a nonstop challenge to readers' expectations. (June) FYI: A shorter version of this novel appeared in the magazine Interzone in 1995.