WEIRD AND TROUBLING – “Aliens. A new super human race? Twisting Biblical scriptures? Totally not what I thought it would be! Plus an adulturous affair resulting in a new species. Christians beware! This book is not what it seems.”
Actual, verbatim review for Daimones, Vol.1 of the Daimones Trilogy appeared on Barnes & Noble on the 30th of August 2014.
Reviews, good and bad alike, are feedbacks from readers who have very specific expectations from the stories they want to read. Mind, readers are entitled to express what they feel, whether they liked a book or not. Sometimes, they also express the reasons behind that, and there’s nothing – on the surface – wrong on any review.
The review cited above, though, is worth to look at. When I first read it, I admit I thought of Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury. I never comment on any review, not even to say thank you because the reader didn’t write the review for me, but for herself and her fellow readers. I’m not supposed to be in the loop, nor I need to be. But why did I think of Ray Bradbury’s novel?
The internationally acclaimed novel Fahrenheit 451 is set in a bleak, dystopian future. In that world, television rules and literature is on the brink of extinction. Firemen start fires rather than put them out and destroy the most illegal of commodities, the printed book. Books were dangerous, they made people think. The Authority in Fahrenheit 451 dispersed its truth via televised messages, it told its story and it had to remain the only story being told. Firemen destroyed books not based on whether the book was well written or not, had grammar errors, not properly edited, or if its story didn’t flow, not even whether the story was good or not. The problem with the books was that they told a different story and shook the established truth and certitudes in readers.
But, wait a second. We’re talking here of a Science Fiction trilogy. Aliens? Well, yes, guilty as charged, Daimones has aliens. A new super human race. Yes yet again. Transgenic humans are created by aliens. Twisting Biblical scriptures? Biblical scriptures are cited, verbatim. Aliens cite them. Adulterous affair is there too, and the way it comes to reality alters what is considered ethical and moral in our society, but the characters lived a world where the society was no more. The Apocalypse had struck with unimaginable cruelty.
The words in the review tell us that the read was weird and troubling. I’d say for a Science Fiction novel this is already worth an Award. So, Daimones was too much to bear and shook certitudes at their roots, or the characters did hateful things, or the scriptures had been challenged: not really. How could the writer let this happen?
When that happens, to me it is the tell sign that I found a great book. When that happens, the reader had in his hands a book that has been able to stir deeply inside the deepest emotions. Yes, the book disturbed, but it spoke an unknown language and challenged the reader. Challenge was also the theme in Fahrenheit 451, challenge the authority, challenge the status-quo, challenge the society imposed with force, violence, and threats.
“’Tis the good reader that makes the good book; in every book he finds passages which seem to be confidences or sides hidden from all else and unmistakably meant for his ear; the profit of books is according to the sensibility of the reader; the profound thought or passion sleeps as in a mine, until it is discovered by an equal mind and heart.” ~Ralph Waldo Emerson
Good books are those that mark their readers, had them ‘feel’ the struggles, the internal fights, the craziness the characters went through, and make them stop: “How would I have reacted if I lived through the same events?” Whether the readers agree or not with the characters’ choices (and if they are plausible in the fictional world the character live in), those are reasons to like a good story, and readers can agree to disagree with the characters, but should also grant characters the same courtesy, to disagree with readers’ choices. After all, who would put down a killer drama because the killer… kills his victims, and sometimes in the most atrocious ways? Would you say “Beware, in this killer drama the killer kills people?”
A reader should expect to hear a different story every time, a believable one, one that makes her sad, mad, laugh, and sometimes even cry. That is the ideal, and if only one of these feelings happen, the story has not betrayed the readers, it has shaken up their firm beliefs but sometimes—oftentimes—we don’t want anyone to wake-up us from our steady, immutable dream and certitudes. But why “Christians” should beware of the Daimones? Time Danaos et Dona Ferentes comes to mind. Is the Daimones Trilogy like a Trojan Horse hiding its true motives disguised as a Science Fiction novel? (you know, it portrays Aliens).
I think the rule for a writer is to surprise and tell a different story each time, one than stirs up inside and raises more questions than it gives answers. So, again, “Christians beware! This book is not what it seems.” Don’t read Daimones if you are a Christian… but, wait a second, I, the writer, went to a catholic school, served mass, and am a Christian, too. But beware, Daimones doesn’t speak about Jesus nor about religion, I’m a scientist but not a scientologist.
Reading is difficult because it makes you think. You have to have a mind and a heart ready for it, and minds and hearts do work like umbrellas: they function at their best when they are open!
Massimo Marino is a scientist envisioning science fiction. He spent years at CERN and The Lawrence Berkeley Lab followed by lead positions with Apple, Inc. and the World Economic Forum. He is also co-founder of “Squares on Blue”, a Big Data Analytics service company.
Massimo currently lives in France and crosses the border with Switzerland multiple times daily, although he is no smuggler.
As a Scientist, he envisions Science Fiction and went from smashing particles at accelerators at SLAC and CERN to smashing words on a computer screen.
He’s the author of multi-awarded Daimones Trilogy.
• 2012 PRG Reviewer’s Choice Award Winner in Science Fiction
• 2013 Hall of Fame – Best in Science Fiction, Quality Reads UK Book Club
• 2013 PRG Reviewer’s Choice Award Winner in Science Fiction Series
• 2014 Finalist – Science Fiction – Indie Excellence Awards L.A.
• 2014 Award Winner – Science Fiction Honorable Mention – Readers’ Favorite Annual Awards