Three people from different times and places set themselves on paths to save humanity in Edin’s unorthodox sci-fi debut.
Tikan Solstafir lives on a spaceship, the Equuleus, in the distant future. Most people aboard have a device implanted in their brain called a “procrustiis,” with which they can lose themselves in hallucinogenic visions called “metempsies.” Because he doesn’t metempsy, Tikan is one of the first to realize that the Equuleus has been invaded by strange beings that begin killing and mutilating people. Tikan, along with his pal Naim and pilot Mira, rush to activate the ship’s defense protocol. They later learn the invasion may relate to the procrustiis, which can be used as a weapon. The key to preventing tragedy may lie in the far-off Arcturus system. In 21st-century Paris (on Earth), an unnamed philosopher wants to somehow “fix humanity and the world,” but as he struggles to write his treatise, he damages his relationships with his lover, Sophia, and friend Pierre. His life ultimately spirals into vagrancy and criminality, but it doesn’t deter him from his goal—though how he’ll go about it is initially obscure. Sielle, meanwhile, is a girl with the ability to travel through time and space. While searching for “beauty in the world,” she moves from Moscow to the village of Mercia in the Middle Ages as well as to planets beyond Earth. When Tikan, the philosopher, and Sielle finally meet, humanity’s fate will be determined—for better or for much, much worse.
Edin’s generally abstract tale brims with philosophical concepts. The bulk of them are understated and smoothly incorporated into the narrative. For example, the Equuleus passengers who constantly metempsy escape the real world so often that returning to it is disorienting: “Nothing in your life exists,” Tikan tells a metempsying Naim. At the same time, some of the more blatant philosophizing, as in the philosopher’s treatise in progress, has a tongue-in-cheek tone; a glimpse at his notes merely reveals a number of unfinished ideas and occasional, senseless scribblings. The novel repeatedly shifts its perspective among the three protagonists, with the philosopher’s first-person accounts, not surprisingly, involving more reflection than action. However, his lengthy tale covers a number of years and takes a truly shocking turn near the end. There are more conventional sci-fi moments as well, as when Tikan visits a seedy area to find a ship captain to smuggle him and others to a particular location—a setup that’s reminiscent of one in the classic 1977 film Star Wars. Edin’s prose gives visual elements a distinctive vibrancy (“Ever suspended above, the sun poured its blood over the planet”) and conceptual passages tangibility (“My senses were unlocking, the tumblers dropping, the gate to the world’s mysteries unlatching.”). Some initially murky plot details, such as how the protagonists link up, become clearer as the narrative continues, with many answers revealed in the enlightening—and outstanding—conclusion.
An atypical and profound tale that readers won’t easily forget.