Upon This Rock: E-book 3 – Take into account Pipnonia
By David Marusek, Stack of Firewood Press, 369 pages, 2021. $19.95 paper, $9.99 digital
It’s been 4 years since David Marusek printed the primary quantity in his magnum opus, “Upon This Rock,” and rather a lot has occurred within the interim. Marusek started writing the continued science fiction sequence, set in Alaska, when some semblance of normalcy nonetheless prevailed in America. Not anymore. And as our battered nation troopers via a sequence of traumas, the third ebook within the saga, “Take into account Pipnonia,” has extra relevance than maybe even Marusek himself anticipated.
First, some temporary background. The sequence is about within the fictional city of McHardy, Alaska, a transparent stand-in for McCarthy, the place unusual doings are afoot. There, a fundamentalist Christian household with the adopted final title of Prophecy has settled in to do battle with the Nationwide Park Service and wait out the apocalypse. If this sounds acquainted to anybody who was dwelling in Alaska within the early aughts, it should. The household patriarch, Poppy Prophecy, has declared himself a prophet of God, past the attain of sin. However in observe, he’s responsible of the identical crimes his real-life inspiration dedicated.
The motion, although, entails that impending apocalypse. Aliens have landed, a planet named Pipnonia is hurtling via house on a collision course with ours, and Earth is beset by earthquakes, volcanoes and different pure disasters that, by the point this quantity opens, have roughly introduced the collapse of civilization.
In ebook three, that’s only the start.
The opposite story operating via many of those pages entails the arrival of refugees from the Decrease 48 who’ve flooded into Alaska searching for security from the approaching cataclysm, security they imagine the state’s engaging and in addition fundamentalist Christian governor, Vera Tetlin, has provided.
Tetlin herself is making an attempt to avoid wasting her personal pores and skin, which entails escaping right into a preserve occupied by the Prophecy household, a deep and large mine shaft burrowed right into a mountain. In the meantime, one of many Prophecy daughters, Deuteronomy, who goes by Deut, has been tapped both by the aliens or God to attempt to avert the catastrophe by touring to Pipnonia, accompanied by an area park ranger named Jace Kuliak, an atheist who’s falling in love along with her.
Elsewhere, in McHardy itself, the refugees have assembled themselves behind a white supremacist and are pushing folks out of the way in which and killing these of darker pores and skin tones, solely to come back into battle with the Alaskan militia that Tetlin has backing her up.
Sound difficult? It’s. Marusek has bitten off a lot that it will be straightforward for this story to collapse earlier than it began. That he pulls it off is an accomplishment in itself. That he manages to talk to our current dilemma exhibits how well timed his theme is.
Marusek spills out infinite plot twists, quite a few subplots, numerous characters and no finish of disasters. Together with the militias and fundamentalists, there’s house journey, time slips, deaths and resurrections, and different commonplace fare for science fiction. How he’ll tie all these threads collectively by the conclusion is a query we’ll must await the reply to. However in a sequence that has wandered nicely past the anticipated boundaries of the style, this quantity is the least science fiction like but. It’s a journey which may appear a bit too near actuality at occasions.
A lot of the motion takes place on acquainted floor, because the characters jostle with one another within the face of impending doom. Marusek labored on this ebook throughout the pandemic and the insanity that overtook America in 2020, which at various occasions felt like a real-life apocalypse to many. And whether or not it was intentional or coincidence, the actions of the gamers on the bottom definitely will really feel acquainted to anybody studying this ebook.
As Pipnonia slams via house on its approach towards Earth, Jace is making an attempt to work with the aliens to avert the disaster. He could possibly be stated to be representing the rationalists we’ve seen making an attempt to forestall deaths throughout the ongoing pandemic, utilizing the very best proof out there. Deut and her household, in the meantime, in addition to Tetlin and others, see the approaching planet as God’s wrath on a fallen humanity. Others predictably dismiss all of it as a hoax, whilst the bottom rumbles beneath their toes.
Once more, if this sounds acquainted, it in all probability ought to.
What Marusek accomplishes together with his juggling act, nonetheless, is remarkably considerate. There’s no lacking the place he stands within the religious vs. secular battle he’s exploring right here; he’s a science man via and thru. However the place a lesser writer would use the characters he’s drawn from actual life as straw women and men for beating up on, Marusek digs deeply into their motivations and thought processes. He shows a sensitivity to the views and fears of the Prophecy household and the governor that permits them to emerge as totally developed people on this story, and never as stereotypes. He might need drawn the essential materials for them from well-known Alaskans, however by this level they’ve taken on lives of their very own.
And so the ebook, in addition to the sequence, develops right into a quite fascinating examination of various methods people react to chaotic, horrifying conditions. And in so doing, Marusek can be highlighting our political and non secular divides, which nobody denies have been deepening. Poppy Prophecy is a very terrible man, however the others, be they non secular or atheist, are advanced. They usually must discover a method to work collectively. Maybe we must always as nicely.
Whether or not or not he supposed it when he first conceived this sequence, “Upon This Rock” has turn out to be a parable for our occasions. In my evaluate of the primary quantity, I described it because the weirdest Alaska novel ever. Since then, actuality has considerably caught up with Marusek’s imaginative and prescient. We aren’t dealing with doom, however we’re being tried as a nation and world. What Marusek has completed is proven the humanity of an array of individuals making an attempt to deal with the unknown. And he’s written a damned good story within the course of.