The Actual Star, by Monica Byrne

An ambitious three time period story (1012, 2012, and 3012) revolving around Maya cosmology. More mysticism and dystopia than science-fiction (the 3012 Earth has greatly reduced population but amazing technology but nobody seems to study science or engineering so….?). I started with interest, and about half-way through started skimming. The plot was plodding, with long digressions on cultural practices (what is often admired as “world-building” but which sometimes comes across as high-school sociology, as was the case here in my estimation.) A central premise of the novel, that blood-letting was (actually) a way to connect to the other side, bizarre. Meditation, sure. Dance movement, sure. Choir singing, sure (like Anathem, by Stephenson, which was quite similar to this and which I also ended up skimming through). Mushroom micro-dosing, sure. We could think these physical activities generate some kind of quantum brain response through their pattern-making or chemical disruption of neurons. But blood-letting and ritual cutting done by an individual alone? The choice is just a bad premise.

About mkevane

Economist at Santa Clara University and Director of Friends of African Village Libraries.
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