In 1990 an extraordinary child is born, to an ordinary couple.
From an early age it is obvious to those around him that Sean
Bowden is different, it is a difference which will change
perceptions of reality and elevated the human race into their
proper place in the cosmos...
isn't just a novel but a book with an agenda. Author William
Marshall takes chunks of modern spiritualism, old style sixties
mind expansion and quasimessianic rescue fantasies to put
forward the idea that reality is much more than we see and
that the answer to the worlds troubles lie within all of us,
if only we are willing to make the step towards a form of
wrong with that, if you know where the author is coming from.
All of the above elements have appeared in science fiction
writing since the turn of the nineteenth century, sometimes
as individual elements, or as in this case as a combination
of ideas. The Forgotten Self owes a debt especially
to Robert A. Heinlein's Stranger in a Strange Land
(1961) with whom it shares many of the same thematic concepts
and structure. Both deal with a being whose altered state
of consciousness and higher awareness of reality challenge
his contemporaries view of their place in the world and both
use a lot of Christian iconography as a way of placating the
natural human fear of death and extinction.
of the problems I did have with the book may speak more about
my own sensibilities than that of the authors. Early on in
the book Marshall establishes his protagonist, Sean Bowden's,
messianic otherness by having him rescue his parents from
disaster. Nothing wrong with that, it's an accepted literary
motif that has shown up in many stories, even Superman saves
his father from being crushed by a tractor. So, with endless
possibilities to choose from it was a little uncomfortable
to have Sean save his father from the terrorist attack on
the twin towers and both his parents from the devastating
tsunami. Maybe, the deaths of so many, in such tragic circumstances,
are too fresh in the collective consciousness to be used in
such a work of fiction; I'll leave that up to the reader to
decide where they stand on this point. For myself, it made
for uncomfortable reading.
aside Marshall's, no doubt honest, desire to illuminate the
world with his own philosophical truth and the oft times preachy
feel of the narrative, the novel has many things to recommend
it. Marshall writes well, within the confines of a linear
structure. He demonstrates both a good feeling for characterisation
and character development. And, even if you think that the
ideas behind the book are a load of old tosh, at least Marshall
has got you thinking, something which far too few book attempt
to do these days.
book is well worth a chunk of your valuable time. You may
not agree with the ideas which underpin the narrative, but
that's ok. Marshall would not be the first author with an
agenda, who knows if he is as successful as Ron L. Hubbard
he might find a new generation of acolytes to follow his teachings,
stranger things have happened.
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