The Gap in the Curtain by John Buchan


John Buchan (1875-1940), author of over 100 books including The Thirty-Nine Steps, was a stealth writer of supernatural and Weird fiction.

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From the beginning of his career to his last works, he brought supernatural elements into his narratives to test his characters and thrill his readers. His 1932 novel The Gap in the Curtain was his last full-length work devoted to exploring a supernatural theme: if you were able to see one year into the future, what would you do with that foreknowledge? And what would it do to you? The novel tells the story of five country-house guests who are trained by the ailing Professor Moe, an Einsteinian mathematician who has devised a way of seeing into the future. These five guests gain one piece of knowledge from the experiment, and have to decide how to act on it. Five episodes ensue:

  • The story of the philanthropist who played the markets for too long
  • The story of the politician who changed sides too often
  • The story of the antiquarian book dealer in the clutches of a feminist capitalist
  • The story of the man who foresaw his own death
  • The story of the woman who would not let her lover die

This novel is classic Buchan, ranging from epic to farcical to battling with natural forces and the horrors of feminism. It hasn’t been in print for 15 years, and is shamefully undervalued. The Introduction is by Kate Macdonald, one of the leading Buchan experts. It has crossover appeal from the classic 1930s fiction to period supernatural short stories. The cover reuses the original 1932 artwork from the Hodder & Stoughton edition. The episodes vary from high drama to social comedy, and use Buchan’s skill in writing political intrigue and adventure abroad. This is a novel that showcases Buchan’s talents as a storyteller, and is a thoroughly satisfying read.

The Gap in the Curtain by John Buchan
Epilogue BCB