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The End of Harry Potter?
David Langford
Gollancz, 196 pages

David Langford
David Langford says: "Born 10 April 1953 in Newport, Gwent, South Wales. Studied at Newport High School and (1971-4) Brasenose College, Oxford. BA (Hons) in Physics 1974, MA 1978. Weapons physicist at Atomic Weapons Research Establishment, Aldermaston, Berkshire, from 1975 to 1980. Freelance author, editor and consultant ever since-main fields: science, technology, science fiction (both fiction and criticism), humour, small-system computing and futurology. Sideline in software marketing/consultancy (as Ansible Information, in partnership with fellow author Christopher Priest) since 1985. Married since 12 June 1976 to Hazel Langford -- no children but some 30,000 books. Most work published under own name; one admitted pseudonym, William Robert Loosley. Hobbies include real beer, antique hearing aids and the destruction of human civilization as we know it today."

David Langford Website
ISFDB Bibliography
Ansible Web Site
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SF Site Review: The Leaky Establishment

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Nathan Brazil

The End of Harry Potter?

"For Harry, it would be harmless. For Voldemort, it would be like exposure to the core of a nuclear reactor, or the interior of the sun.
Death by love."
As the climax of the Harry Potter series approaches, so the twittering about what J.K. Rowling has planned gets louder. Somebody, somewhere, has probably worked it out correctly. But until readers know for sure, guessing is a lot of fun. Such has been the impact of the series that it's easy to believe people will buy any old cobblers, if it has the boy wizard's name on the front. However, if Amazon ratings are anything to go by, it ain't necessarily so. This book's shelf appeal will be enhanced by cover artwork which includes Harry's spectacles, one lens cracked in a familiar lightning pattern. Author David Langford is a former nuclear scientist, whose fiction I first encountered many years ago in a brilliant short story called "Blit."" What, I wondered, had such a smart writer got to say that was different to others attempting to predict the near future of the Boy Who Lived?

Styling itself as an unauthorised guide to the mysteries that remain, the book is a meticulously deconstructed history of essential Potter, and cleverly reasoned speculation concerning events yet to come. Langford offers insightful observations on how J.K. Rowling constructs her stories, aided by comparisons with classical and contemporary literature. For those who ponder such things, there's information as to the diverse sources from which Rowling took her inspiration, stretching from Tom Brown's Schooldays to a Microsoft Windows screensaver. We get a sympathetic examination of troublesome plot elements; the problem with Slytherin, time turners, meddling with the memories of Muggles, and so on. Anyone interested in how and why Rowling names her creations, will be entertained by the chapter that features a who's who of the more unusually named characters. Tantalisingly, Langford also discusses some of the fascinating questions concerning what elements may form parts of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. These include Harry's heritage, Wormtail's debt, Dumbledore's look of triumph, Sirius Black's magic mirror, where to find the Horcruxes and what form they might take, the mechanics of how Voldermort could finally be defeated, and most crucial of all which characters will still be alive at the end. All of it, of course, is pure speculation, but it is speculation informed by good research, outlined with a sense of humour, and developed from keen observation of clues planted by J.K. Rowling.

After reading The End of Harry Potter? I was reminded of a scene from The Rutles, where the Hippie Professor Stanley J. Krammerhead the III Junior goes into a long-worded, complex sounding explanation for the Rutles phenomenon. After which a dry voice-over adds, "But he didn't really tell us, either." David Langford doesn't over-complicate, but it's obviously impossible for anyone except J.K. Rowling to provide definitive answers. Invaluably for the Potter devotee, Langford's literary torch does more than most to shine into corners deliberately made shadowy by Rowling's twisty plot. Readers who believe that Harry is inescapably hurtling toward his doom may disagree with some of the author's conclusions, and the book could do with an index. But, these minor issue aside, The End of Harry Potter? is well worth reading while we wait for the real thing.

Copyright © 2007 Nathan Brazil

Nathan Brazil
If Nathan Brazil were dyslexic, he'd be the dog of the Well world. In reality, he's an English bloke who lives on an island, reading, writing and throwing chips to the seagulls. Drop by his web site at

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