'The Martianz Trilogy'
Available as hardbacks
Published through UniBook Publishing, 2003-7
I feel quite honoured to have been given the chance to read these books, which are very unusual. The author, Zurishaddai (loosely translated as 'The Strength of the Lord is my Rock') has published three books so far, with more in the pipeline. They are science fiction first and foremost - a cross between Ray Bradbury's 'The Martian Chronicles', and Doctor Who on acid. But they weave a more occult tale into them too. There is a neo-Platonic philosophy underlying the entire work, with a healthy draft of Wicca. Intrigued? Well, it's certainly not the kind of work you'd expect to pick up in your local mainstream bookshop.
The books follow the life of a character named Ed Dotey. He is a modern Patriarch. His oddly long life-span allows him to become the central hub of all the major events that shaped the history of America, and in this way he is akin to the spirit of that great nation. Despite his longevity, he is very much a normal man, with desires, loves and ambition. But he lives for hundreds of years, and this creates many problems for him, as well as affording him many opportunities. The ignorance of his fellow man is a running theme through the books. Ed tries to impart a more rational philosophy, particularly into the fledgling nation to which he is so dedicated. The author works magic into historical fiction, and shows how the philosophy and teachings of the ancients underscore much of what the American nation was founded upon.
In time, Ed's pioneering adventurism seeks a new domain as the West is conquered and begins to appear more like the Old World than the New. His sights are set on Mars, and he engineers a private-sector solution to exploration and colonisation. The project, financed by a multi-billionaire, is enshrouded in secrecy, and under constant threat of exposure by a dark, federal U.S. government. From here the science fiction becomes ever more fantastical, mixed with an often gritty realism in terms of human motivation and action. Zurishaddai offers us a vision of a new start - his main characters become a cohesive unit which abandons much of what is wrong about Western civilisation on Earth. In so doing, he draws a parallel with the motivation for colonists in the early days of America. Marz becomes the new America, literally the New World. Capitalist economics is abandoned in favour of a more commune-based living, perhaps best understood as kibbutz-like. Zurishaddai is no fan of big government.
This new spirit of social cohesion is embodied in the hero Ed Dotey, whose origins are wrapped in mystery. I think the finest parts of the novels are the historical sections which see Ed Dotey living through and empowering the most important events in American history. The fact that he is a witch creates an interesting twist which the author grapples with very successfully. As the action shifts to Mars, often in interweaving chapters, the story becomes more complex and layered. The harsh, almost impossible practicalities of a successful colonisation on Mars are solved by wondrous inventions. Personally, I prefer the sections of the book which deal with the more intractable problems, to do with spaceflight and how humans cope with long tracts of time in space and on an alien world (although Mars is not nearly inhospitable enough in this trilogy, I think). Indeed, Zurishaddai and I tackle similar issues in our novels - as authors we are exploring similar territory.
In the third of the novels, Zurishaddai moves into more fantastical territory still. He deals with spiritual evolution, and shows how reincarnation of an Earthling as a Martian might engender an entirely new species. The action becomes multi-layered, and multi-dimensional. On an intellectual level, Zurishaddai has created a Cubist novel in 'Search for the Source'. It ends unsatisfactorily, with a fourth book already in mind, I suspect, because there are a number of loose ends needing attention.
On a critical level, these books are crying out for editing, proof-reading and a sharper presentation. There are many sex scenes, and innuendo aplenty, which is perhaps risky (certainly risqué) in the science fiction genre. But at the core, they are enjoyable novels, rich in imagination, and warmth. Zurishaddai's vision of Martian colonisation is as hopeful as his assessment of human activity on Earth is bleak.
In the great tradition of Douglas Adams, there is about to be a fourth book in the Martianz Trilogy, entitled 'The Gods of Earth'.
Copies of 'The Martianz Trilogy' can be obtained from the following website:
Book review by Andy Lloyd, 3rd November 2009
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