Season of the Serpent is pretty much an acid trip. It starts reasonably normal and quite slowly as the author builds up Paul’s character. He’s just an ordinary guy going off to college, meeting another guy called Eric who turns out to be the Serpent and who tempts him into drugs. The story takes place during the cold war and details Paul’s transformation from naive freshman to someone with a vastly different view of the universe. The marijuana expands his perception and awakens latent abilities nurtured by forgotten extra-terrestrial visitations throughout his life. These otherworld beings have plans for him.
The story is written from the point of view of an omniscient narrator, and between the chapters of Paul’s exploits the narrator explains the truth about flying saucers, the politics behind the cold war and outlays a vision of a multi-universe. These sections are interesting if you’re interested in the subject matter, but if you aren’t, they may not hold your attention.
As the story progresses, we come to realise that in Paul’s world – supposedly our own – there are far deeper layers of existence than what we perceive. About half way through, the setting flips and Paul finds himself in a decadent realm of extra-terrestrials where he discovers that the earth is merely a simulation, a kind of game for the alien/gods. They are engaged in their own war, one that mirrors the two sides of the Cold War, and ultimately the battle between order and chaos.
This is metaphysical fiction, and the metaphysics were thought-provoking and, when Paul travels into mental worlds, visually interesting, especially at the end. The vision is of a hierarchical multiverse where a nuclear explosion on earth would also irreparably damage the other less physical realms, so everyone has a vested interest in stopping the bomb. Synchronicity is a reoccurring theme and the story links events in the extraterrestrial realm to events in the history of the time in our world.
There’s a lot of interesting ideas in this book, including one way of viewing the Christian story of Adam and Eve and the tree of knowledge, as well as some parallels with Alice in Wonderland. Even if you can’t quite follow the details you get a sense of a reality much vaster and more complex than we presently perceive, and as in all good metaphysical fiction, the ideas are integral to the story’s structure.
I felt that the long prologue was unnecessary, and quite likely off-putting for some due to it’s telling style of writing. It would also have limited appeal to anyone not familiar with Dark Side of the Moon by Pink Floyd. I think it would have been better as an appendix, a kind of optional extra.
Though it has some lovely phrases and the author clearly has great potential, the prose, though more immediate in the second half of the book, would be much more engaging had the author shown the story rather than told it. In general, the ideas were well expressed—mind you, I am used to such concepts—but I feel the plot became somewhat confused and a little repetitive after Paul arrived in the extraterrestrial realm and before his ‘testing’. I suspect that this is largely because I found the strange names hard to remember and differentiate. The end is unexpected. It leaves me wanting to read the next installment. I am interested to see where the author could go from there.
I recommend it for old hippies interested in physics or metaphysics, particularly those pertaining to the nature of the universe. I particularly liked this description of the physical universe: “a perpetual unfolding, multidimensional manifestation of living consciousness.”
I really like the cover too.
PS. One of the other Awesome Indies reviewers thought there was way too much telling rather than showing in this and gave it 2 stars. I, however, thought this a stylistic choice rather than poor form and gave it 4 stars. The prose could certainly have been more engaging, particularly in the first half of the book, but for me, the good aspects outweighed the bad.
This book breaks some rules and it works for me, but clearly not for others. One thing that is clear is that it’s for metaphysical fiction lovers. I suspect that if you aren’t into metaphysics, you simply may not get this book at all. Some love it and some hate it; those who love it understand the beauty and depth of the ideas, and these are not made up ideas, as with all true metaphysical fiction there’s a complete system of thought at its core.
I’m pretty sure that those who will most appreciate this book will either have been born before 1960 or had parents who played Pink Floyd and talked about what it was like to live during the cold war. For anyone else it could simply be nonsense, but you could take a risk because the metaphysics are interesting and it’s only 99c. If you read it, come back and leave a comment. Let me know what you think.
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