Rodney Rowbottom lives in Frogmore, a country town. He attends Frogmore Primary where his fading prompts the headmaster to write to his parents that his low visibility is proving disruptive'. Rodney overhears his parents arguing because of the headmaster's letter and learns that there's a history of fading in his mother's family. His great uncle Wayne was a fader, as was Harold, his mother's second cousin once removed (Harold removed himself from a dinner party never to return). Rodney's father, who blames his wife's genes for his son's condition, is a scientist who heads a secretive government facility, BAARMY (the British & Australian Association for Research into Modified Yields). BAARMY's employees conduct research into the genetic modification of plants and animals. Rodney soon discovers that one of his father's employees, Professor Nettleforth, has gone one step further and is breeding dangerous plants! A pivotal character in this story is Mrs Strangeways, a local eccentric who teaches Rodney how to control his fading. He's fading because he's a ';switcher', she tells him, which means he's on his way to Llandringodd. Llandringodd is a parallel universe in another dimension and there's another parallel universe called Llondieval. Llandringodd, whilst it's scientifically advanced, is undergoing an environmental crisis. Llondieval, whilst it's pristine environmentally, is primitive, superstitious and cruel. Rodney's visits both universes where, in spite of terrible dangers, he proves himself to be resourceful and brave.
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