by Jake Arnott
I loved this book. It took me a while to love it, but once the connections start to engage, it snaps into sharp focus and the structure of the whole comes plain. Based on the same quantum theories as my own novel, it was bound to fascinate me. It’s a complicated novel, one I found difficult to review.
A series of episodes, a set of lives loosely linked are woven together: the strange prophetic novel that seems to predict Rudolph Hess’s flight to Scotland, a young writer of pulp SF and his relationship to a cult that is connected to Aleister Crowley who is connected to a secret service agent who is connected to Rudolph Hess who is connected to a notorious transvestite who is connected to a confused singer turned actor who is making a film based on an old SF story that brings us back to the pulp writers. It all comes around in the end, full circle, connecting – not neatly or nicely, but very satisfyingly.
I don’t know enough about the Tarot to know if the episodes follow its story of the Fool’s journey or if that’s a conceit; since Jake Arnott uses the Crowley Tarot rather than the classic deck and since Crowley appears as in the story and the theme of occultism runs through it, I assume it’s highly significant and I should probably read more about it. Quantum entanglement is another theme, and other theories of quantum physics, and it draws a lot of inspiration from Michael Coleman Talbot and the hologramatic universe theory.
It took a while to `get’ it – who are these people, how can they possibly have anything In common? But as you keep reading the thing begins to develop a definite WOW factor. The artistry of it is stunning; it reminds me of those pictures that were so popular when I was a student, you peer endlessly into what seems to be a bank of impenetrable colour and then, suddenly, you see the image, everything snaps into sharp focus, everything becomes clear.
It took about 5 days bedtime reading for this book to become something I couldn’t wait to pick up again each night. Stick with it, it takes time to develop but it’s definitely worth it. It’s not a book for everyone; it’s certainly not the page-turning thriller the cover blurb suggests, but if you enjoy a challenging novel that requires you to think a little, or have any interest at all in quantum physics, you’ll love it.