‘Switchers’ is a two-part story about Rodney Rowbottom, an eleven-year-old living in an ordinary house in an ordinary country town, and attending an ordinary country school. He has two very ordinary parents. Why, then, is something extraordinary happening to him?
In ‘Switchers’ Part 1, The Boy Who Disappeared, Rodney is fading. The headmaster of Frogmore Primary is so concerned that he writes to Rodney’s parents: ‘If you can shed any light on your son’s periodical faintness, please contact me. His low visibility is proving disruptive.‘ Rodney learns that there’s a history of fading on his mother’s side and that he’s inherited a recessive, fading gene. His Great Uncle Wayne was a fader, and so was Harold, his mother’s second cousin once removed (Harold removed himself from the dinner table, never to return).
Only when Rodney meets Mrs Strangeways does he discover the reason for his fading. He’s a ‘switcher’, she tells him, which means he can travel between Earth and two alternative universes, Llandringodd and Llondieval. Neither of these universes is particularly nice: Llandringodd is undergoing a terrible environmental crisis whilst Llondieval, though environmentally pristine, is primitive, superstitious and cruel. Rodney visits both universes and his adventures there prove him to be a brave, resourceful boy.
In Part 2 of ‘Switchers’, Rafferty’s Rules, Rodney returns to the environmentally challenged world of Llandringodd where a revolution and then a counter-revolution have left the tyrant, Rafferty, in charge. Can Rodney, amidst all the kidnappings and beatings, help restore the rule of law?
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