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MINDSLIP - A Science Fiction Story by Tony Harmsworth

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THE AUTHOR: Tony Harmsworth, is an accomplished storyteller who has spent most of his life presenting history and mystery to visitors to the Highlands of Scotland in an entertaining and innovative manner.

As part of this he conceived the Loch Ness Centre, designed and scripted the Macbeth Experience and created the largest private heritage centre in Scotland at Fort Augustus. He also spent over twenty years writing the most comprehensive and authoritative book on Loch Ness, which finally explained the mystery.

Retiring from his career in tourism he has now written two 'old school' science fiction novels. This book features a leading astrophysicist and contains ideas and concepts which will make you think about people, life, gender and governments.

He is looking for an agent or publisher to take MINDSLIP and his second and third novels, THE VISITOR and GREEN DOOR to the world.


WARNING - The synopsis is a spoiler written for publishers, not readers! Read the extract on the following link instead.


MINDSLIP Synopsis EP: Radiation from a nearby supernova causes creatures on Earth to randomly swap minds. A brilliant astrophysicist becomes a young Japanese woman and his wife turns into an old greyhound. He must battle time, technology and secrecy to try to save her and the world.

The novel is set in the immediate future, perhaps tomorrow. The protagonist is astrophysicist, Dr. Geoffrey Arnold (36, deputy to the Astronomer Royal at Greenwich and seconded to the Royal Institution. He has a loving wife, Caroline and two children, Wilson (10) and Sandra (8). They live in Guildford in Surrey.) Geoff’s story is told in the first person.

In 1368, Betelgeuse, a giant star in the constellation of Orion, goes supernova. Some 650 years later, the flash is seen and the Arnold family dive for cover in their garden. Geoff sets up an astronomer’s meeting for the next day.

He boards his train and receives a call that the sun has produced a coronal mass ejection which is due to hit Earth in a few minutes. Mindslip strikes the world.

Geoff regains consciousness in a domestic lounge in Notting Hill. He feels strange, but it is not until a toilet visit that he discovers he has been changed into a twenty-four-year-old Japanese woman.

He uses his host’s phone to call home and finds another woman occupying his wife’s body, eight-year-old Sandra has the mind of a baby and ten-year-old Wilson has left home to work in a power station. He asks the wife who is not his wife to do what she thinks is best for Sandra before leaving the house.

He soon understands that the effect is worldwide and heads into London in his female guise, learning first-hand about sexual harassment and cat-calling. There is total chaos in the streets including a nearby plane crash and many smashed vehicles. After collecting his laptop from the RI he heads home, but finds no sign of Caroline or Wilson. The woman who occupied his wife has taken Sandra into a nearby hospital to be looked after.

There are several complementary chapters dealing with the chaos from the third person perspective. Particularly a crisis on an aircraft at 30,000 feet; a greyhound containing a woman’s mind trapped in a house; another woman in a bullock in a field in Italy; a man finds himself giving birth in a hospital and when the child is born it looks around and asks, ‘Where the fuck am I?’; a salesman from Bristol finds himself in freefall on the ISS with a crew comprising an oriental schoolteacher, French male nurse, American schoolgirl; psychopath from Broadmoor and lawyer from the USA. In each of these scenarios the characters struggle to come to terms with their new situations. Each of the sub-plots is told in third person.

In the main story, Geoff becomes part of the Catastrophe Committee working out of COBRA in Ten Downing Street. Their responsibility is to sort out salaries, pensions, assets and other ownership aspects to Mindslip; decide how to help humanimals (people in animals’ bodies); similarly, to come up with a plan for the opposite – the hundreds of thousands of animals who are now in humans; plus the farming implications caused by cows containing chicken’s minds, sheep inhabiting carnivore’s minds and so on. A tremendous mess has been caused to families and society in general, by Mindslip.

Sandra eventually makes contact from France as a twenty-two-year-old woman. Geoff arranges her return and discusses her future with Gren Pointer, the new head of Adult-Children Education. Wilson is now a black lad in Rwanda and the Foreign Office is arranging repatriation. He is lucky to be a similar age to his original body, but finds he now has amazing footballing skills.

One day Geoff hears a scraping at the front door. Caroline has come home in the body of the ageing greyhound. Her journey had been told in one of the sub-plots and it is only now that she is revealed as Geoff's wife. Taking care of her becomes a priority for the family.

St. Andrews University discovers a way to transfer conditioned reflexes from one rat to another and the committee decides it should be investigated. They manage to transfer a humanimal mind from a goat to another goat using a similar apparatus, but there are ethical problems. Despite the system having promise, the Prime Minister slaps top secret on the news as it could offer virtual immortality to the rich and famous, transferring from old human to young human.

[Major Spoilers follow]: One evening Caroline suffers heart failure and dies causing great heartache in the Arnold family.

People begin to get used to their new bodies and Geoff falls in love with Gren Pointer – both having changed sex and learning to accept and enjoy their new genders.

The story ends with the scientist who had been trying to perfect the transfer system selling the procedure to wealthy people and corrupt heads of state from a laboratory in Libya.

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