Read this short story late eighties — generations of mice dying as they drag a revival casket through snow — they finally get into a house under a shattered dome and, with the help of some droids called "mimes", they regenerate a man named Nicholas. He immediately dons some bit of kit called a "pharaoh mask" and starts updating himself. He realises he's full size "this time" and is in "True Bath", the town.

His life signs are picked up by post humans in orbit and one comes down as a "tourist" to investigate. As she nears, he "sounds" and she is destroyed by nostalgia! This is picked up in a defence space station and robot systems activate. The master program realises a traitor subroutine had allowed this humans revival to occur and destroys it and sends out interceptors to "True Bath", but too late; the man (Nicholas?) is already off through time and alarms begin to resonate.

Any ideas about title/author?

EDIT: more memories popped into my head today. When he escapes it said "he was carolling off through time".
Also as he first revives he spies the robot mime and croaks "my pipe, my drum, my fiddlers three" and then wheezes with laughter.
When he first dons the pharaoh mask its tongue is fully extended, this indicates to him that its data bank is full, as soon as the update starts a friend avatar appears and gives a dire warning.

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    The mice motivation wasn't discussed. Vague memory of some form of genetic imperative. The space station AI was called Doctor... (something but not Who!). I got a hint on another site years ago that this story was published as a short but it was also the first two chapters of a much bigger book. The helper told me he couldn't get title either but he was convinced the book "had a yellow cover like Gollancz books"
    – Danny Mc G
    Commented Jun 10, 2017 at 8:12
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    I think I may have read this story, likely in Omni magazine when it was pretty new (I only read it for the first year or so). Seems to me the man from the coffin might have been St. Nick, Old King Cole, and several other fantasy and fairy tale characters all run together (that was somewhat common in early 1980s SF).
    – Zeiss Ikon
    Commented Jul 17, 2017 at 15:55
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    Query also posted at sffchronicles.com/threads/565618 in 2016, just in case we get answers at one or another.
    – FuzzyBoots
    Commented Jul 17, 2017 at 16:07
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    “Destroyed by nostalgia!” How does that work?
    – Adamant
    Commented Nov 6, 2017 at 7:29
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    @Adamant don't know, it said IIRC "unable to stop, he sounded as the tourist approached and she was destroyed, wiped out by a wave of pure nostalgia "
    – Danny Mc G
    Commented Nov 6, 2017 at 11:22

1 Answer 1


It is called Eden Sounding by John Clute, from the Other Edens II and Stay collections and can be found online in Stay by John Clute on Google Books

There are mice mentioned, only travelling at night:

After arranging a safe passage for their toboggans, the mice came in chiming cohorts from all the nooks and crannies...

The story mentions a genuine Bath:

After several days of unremitting labour [...] finally reached the huge gaping excavation that housed genuine Bath, far below the surface of the world.

There are several references to Mimes, and they seem to be the leaders of the mice

The six mimes continued, lovingly but without remission, to urge more speed from the forty weathered survivors as their oracle-like automatic toboggans edged the burden

He also says

My pipe, he whispered. My fiddlers three

when he wakes.

His name is Nicholas Dene

Dene shot his remote gaze upwards [...] Above the Nicholas Dene from something like a bubble roof...

He also mentions being born huge:

He was too huge. He had been born to human size. He almost sounded

There is mention of a tourist who dies after he sounds, and the nostalgia you mentioned could possibly be Déjà Vu:

A burst of intolerably hot déjàvu burned through the very tissues of the pilot's mottled doggy brain, and his face bellied like a sail.

He turned to stone

The tourist continues to stare through her augments into the round anguished eyes of the Dene Pharaoh. Her brain begins to bake.

She turned to stone.

This causes the helipig to send out a mayday signal:

The helipig attempted without success to medicate its charges. Taking a rough brain-scan of the female being, it stashed her rigid body in a life-support pod. The pilot was beyond repair, and was dumped. Mayday signals were sent.

You also mention an AI called Doctor. There is a doctor mentioned, called Dr. Promerops, but it's unknown if the he is an AI.

Dr Promperops was finally awoken, barking ravenously, from kyphotic slumber in the command center under Crete.

  • Well I see that I had nostalgia and deja vu confused in my memory. Otherwise I didn't do too badly. Bounty points to you - I'm off now to update on other sites where I asked this
    – Danny Mc G
    Commented Nov 8, 2017 at 15:26

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