book review

by james hörner

submission info
book cover
isbn: 1-928670-10-5
pub: Awe-Struck E-Books
The Divine Suicide - John E. Tannock

click to read the first chapter of The Divine Suicide
click for John's bio.

this month the sci-fi book i read previous to this was Philip K. Dick's Valis (a book which presents the notion of god as insane), so i wasn't sure how i would fare with this book. however instead of dealing with contemporary reality and the writings of a supposed madman, The Divine Suicide deals with madness itself in a universe of insanity.

"divine suicide" is the explosion of god and creation of everything. in a book where god is everything, there is a strong bi-polar (eg. good/evil) nature in the universe and also in god. this book follows several characters through a metaphysical exploration of self and reality, moving beyond the previously understood limits of the flesh and space itself.

with a description like this, which really does little to explain the complexity of The Divine Suicide, the reader should be prepared for just about anything, and that is really what the reader should expect. this is a book in which reality is meaningless and the flesh can be destroyed and reconstructed with great ease. biotech abounds and the world is a place reminiscent of the dark stylings of the classic Blade Runner with its moody settings and sparse dialogue.

although it is metaphysical and complex, the book is comprehensible due to its slow development and lush descriptions. if you are a fan of high detail and thorough development, then this is a book you will enjoy. tannock has constructed a reality which mirrors our own in many ways, yet transcends our most fantastic imaginations. perverse and sensual, violent and strongly empassioned, this is a book which you can see the author trying to push his own limits and understanding of the world.

there are of course moments of cheese, pop culture references even now becoming fast dated. doc marten boots? in this place? i think not. religious references obviously also appear everywhere, but with names and belief systems mixing together, zen, tao, torah, crucifixion, among others it is not clear what sort of metaphors or symbols tannock is trying to create by invoking these ideas in a convoluted mish-mash. sometimes references seem to be made for little reason other than for the popular, thus stereotyped, ideas they invoke. regardless, tannock grapples with ideas of faith and identity in a refreshingly peculiar manner.

at over 300 pages this is a book of considerable depth, and only the first in a trilogy. one problem i find with such a lengthy book is that it is available in digital format, meaning you have to read it on your computer. well, i guess you could print it out, but that's a pain. this is unfortunate for those of us who either do not like reading books on a flickering screen, or those who like to take a book wherever we go. too bad you can't drag the old monitor into the bedroom or bathroom. on the other hand, you can save a tree and pick up tannock's Divine Suicide on disk or in a downloadable format from Awe-Struck books online.

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