Philosophy, scientific theory, literary allusion, espionage and magic combine to create a world where secrets in hidden lands and laboratories threaten a post-apocalyptic civilization.
Two towering intellects, the inventive scientific genius Dr. Magigate (also known as “the Captain”) and his nemesis and soul mate the Prophet (a beautiful, charismatic, temperamental woman who leads the world of commerce) engage in an epic struggle that twists and turns for over 50 years. Both think their cause just; each seeks to control the other through science and ruthless force. The “glide” of the title refers to an invention of Dr. Magigate’s that manipulates gravity to provide power without the use of fossil fuels. The novel opens with scenes from the warring past where a virus that first destroyed fabricated objects then mutated to infect humans. The story then moves backward to show how the authoritarian Academy, led by the Prophet, hunted down the young Magigate when he refused to collaborate. The story then abruptly moves to a futuristic present. Here, teenaged Michael and Madeleine trespass onto the secret hideaway of an elderly Magigate and unwittingly wander into a dangerous situation. Chapters dedicated to the adventures of the young pair include glimpses into the gadgets and teen lifestyles of the day (with footnotes explaining inventions such as holographic books). Other sections dwell more on philosophy than adventure, as when the Captain tells his followers on Isla de Tiempo Muerto—his hideaway—that there are three ways to see the world; the seer’s way, the general’s way and the magician’s way, and the novel explores all three. It’s easy to get confused in this story that combines elements of the Oedipus legend, the Kingdom of Narnia, the Land of Oz and the battles of Star Wars with scientific theories. While story lines merge at the conclusion, a time chart or list of characters would have helped the reader of this lengthy work to navigate from one story line and perspective to another.
Gourgey’s wide range of references creates an entertaining, albeit dense, tale of the dangers and benefits of science and love.