Worlds apart by Richard Cowper

A book I have always admired, because of its central conceit. Everyone has wondered this at some time or another; only Cowper, as far as I know, has actually made a novel out of it.

George Cringe is a middle-aged school teacher, with a less than satisfactory marriage. He is attracted to a younger colleague at the school where he works. As light relief from this stressful life, he is writing a science fiction novel about the planet Agenor, where his hero, the teacher Zil Bryn and his partner, Orgypp, are having problems with an outbreak of giant psychedelic mushrooms.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the galaxy, on the perfect planet Chnas, the teacher Zil Bryn has a happy life with his partner Orgypp, apart from problems centred upon an outbreak of giant psychedelic mushrooms. But Bryn is finding relief from this by composing a strange narrative, set on a mythical planet called Urth, about the deeply troubled teacher Shorge Gringe…

I’ve not read this recently, but I recollect it being a fun piece of satire.

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