Fans of historical novelist Christopher Harris have a new Voynich Manuscript-themed book of his heading their way in early 2009: to be published by Dedalus Books, "Mappamundi" is a non-Byzantine sequel to the final book in Harris' Byzantine trilogy, "False Ambassador" (if that's not too confusing). I asked him how he came to find the Voynich Manuscript:-
"As far as I can remember, I first came across the Voynich MS in an article in New Scientist (17 November 2001). As you would expect, the focus of the article is on cryptography, linguistics, statistical analysis, etc. I was intrigued by the strangeness of the MS, and thought I might be able to use it in a novel. (I have an interest in lost or mysterious manuscripts, e.g Plethon's 'Book of Laws', which features in my 'False Ambassador'.) I read what I could about the MS, and later got hold of the Gawsewitch facsimile edition (I don't know if it's available in the UK. I bought mine from Amazon.fr)."
Aside from the role the VMs takes on Mappamundi, what are his thoughts on what the VMs is or contains?
"Personally, I am inclined to believe the Art Brut theory, which suggests that the MS may be the production of a psychotic outsider who had seen herbal/ alchemical/ esoteric manuscripts, and attempted to replicate them obsessively, but without any understanding of the originals. There are examples of this in the 19th & 20th centuries, and it is quite possible that some 15th century monk, or amateur scholar, was similarly afflicted.
However, it would be a lot more interesting if it turned out to be a coherent document, capable of being translated."
All of which is fair enough: more on this as it happens...