NEXT EARTH by Ken Sharpe

NEXT EARTH

From the "Next Earth" series, volume 1
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KIRKUS REVIEW

In this spiritually focused debut, the People strive to understand the world and themselves after calamity gives humanity a fresh start.

After millennia of progress, humanity faced the Great Calamity. Disease and environmental catastrophe struck, vastly reducing Earth’s population. Thousands of years later, the planet’s weather regained balance. The People—along with their canine friends, the jugas and the loogas—appeared once more in villages of several hundred, including the village of Aathnaa, home to 16-year-old Oglee. He lives with his mother, Katlee, and his older brother, Totlee. The boys’ father died the previous winter when the Great Swelling disease claimed him. Though their spirits are dampened, the People live by Three Laws that govern the heart. Further, they acknowledge that “their world existed within a loving Mind,” and their glimpse into this phenomenon is called Ixyll, “a name to connect us to the Infinite.” As Oglee, Totlee, and another lad named Larfo become men, they must join the contemplative life. Eldermost Wombrr, the village elder, teaches them about meditation as well as Shallow and Deep Mind. As Oglee excels in using the People’s spiritual tools, Wombrr sees in him the potential to bring everyone closer to Ixyll. In this intellectually ambitious debut, author Sharpe asks readers—who may be Christian, Buddhist, Muslim, or atheist—to see spirituality as a force for maintaining health and creativity rather than a means of checking human potential. His novel shows how individuals with different physical and mental strengths (for example hunting, storytelling, or meditating) can complement each other in a society that respects these differences. Wombrr says, “The spirit of Ixyll flows and cannot be frozen by our thinking and concepts.” Oglee is tested, however, when he visits the village of Buurhaa, where an elder named Maazuk has created a power structure that maintains peace by forgoing deep introspection. While the narrative may be heavy with the details of primitive human living, Sharpe’s meditative teachings are exceptionally lucid and a joy to read.

Probes the connectedness of individuals and the wider world.

Pub Date: June 5th, 2017
ISBN: 978-1-63183-081-5
Page count: 491pp
Publisher: Mountain Arbor Press
Program: Kirkus Indie
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