Psychiatrist John Cunningham is secretly also "Jack Cannon", author of popular horror novels. Under hypnotic regression, John's patient Tony reveals a bizarre and horrifying tale of a "past life" lived on Tyneside in the 1950s, involving two schoolboys and a weird creature with paranormal powers lurking in caves beneath Tynemouth Castle. As John regresses Tony through earlier lives as far back as the 14th century it begins to seem that the local legend, captured in folksong, of a malevolent Lambton Worm may have had a basis in fact: that it was, in fact, the salamander of alchemical belief, summoned by an alchemist known as Raymond Lully, and possibly still locked below Tynemouth Castle And while John Cunningham is exploring Tony's multiple personalities, he begins to experience personality problems of his own, as Jack Cannon beings to assert his own individuality.
Ian Watson (1943 - )Ian Watson was born in England in 1943 and graduated from Balliol College, Oxford, with a first class Honours degree in English Literature. He lectured in English in Tanzania (1965-1967) and Tokyo (1967-1970) before beginning to publish SF with "Roof Garden Under Saturn" for the influential New Worlds magazine in 1969. He became a full-time writer in 1976, following the success of his debut novel The Embedding. His work has been frequently shortlisted for the Hugo and Nebula Awards and he has won the BSFA Award twice. From 1990 to 1991 he worked full-time with Stanley Kubrick on story development for the movie A.I. Artificial Intelligence, directed after Kubrick's death by Steven Spielberg; for which he is acknowledged in the credits for Screen Story. Ian Watson lives in Spain.