"Well," she began as we jumped to Wemmick's Stores in tne lobby of the Great Library, "plots have a sort of inbuilt memory. They can spring back to how they originally ran with surprising ease."
"Like time," I murmured, thinking about my father. "If you say so. On Internal Plot Adjustment duties we often have to have a smoother — a secondary device that reinforces the primary plot swing. We changed the end of Conrad's Lord Jim, you know. Originally, he runs away. A bit weak. We thought it would be better if Jim delivered himself to Chief Doramin as he had pledged following Brown's massacre."
"That didn't work?"
"No. The chief kept on forgiving him. We tried everything. Insulting the chief, tweaking his nose — after the forty-third at- tempt we were getting desperate"
"So what did you do?"
"We retrospectively had the chief's son die in the massacre. It did the trick. The chief had no trouble shooting Jim after that."
I mused about this for a moment. "How did Jim take it? The decision for him to die, I mean?"
Fforde, Jasper. The Well of Lost Plots. Penguin, 2003.
14 November 2008