Gadzooks . . . you astonish me! cries Mr. Lenville in Charles Dickens' Nicholas Nickleby. We won't accuse Dickens of gadzookery ("the bane of historical fiction," as historical novelist John Vernon called it in Newsday), because we assume people actually said "gadzooks" back in the 1830s. That mild oath is an old-fashioned euphemism, so it is thought, for "God's hooks" (a reference, supposedly, to the nails of the Crucifixion). Today's historical novelists must toe a fine line, avoiding expressions like "zounds" and "pshaw" and "tush" ("tushery" is a synonym of the newer "gadzookery," which first cropped up in the 1950s), as well as "gadzooks," while at the same time rejecting modern expressions such as "okay" and "nice."