I just finished reading this book, as part of the #WECAN project book club I founded and boy, was this a good proposal for the book club. I stayed up last night until 3 am as I was unable to let it go and then I kept reading today until I finished it. I am struggling to even put my thoughts in place to express all reasons why I liked this book.
First and foremost, it is a time travel book so needless to say, I liked it. But the book also tackles parallel universes, which sci-fi (and sci-fi fans like me) love. These topics used to be an exclusive domain of sci-fi but there are scientific theories that now explore the possibility of parallel, infinite or multiple universes as well as many worlds theory. This remains a contested topic but there are scientists who are exploring these possibilities. For example, “many-worlds theory proposes instead that every time one state, or outcome, is observed, there is another “world” in which a different quantum outcome becomes reality. This is a branching arrangement, in which instant by instant, our perceived universe branches into near-infinite alternatives. Those alternate universes are completely separate and unable to intersect, so while there may be uncountable versions of you living a life that’s slightly — or wildly — different from your life in this world, you’d never know it”
This is obviously a complex debate and many scientists put forward different theories including saying that parallel universes likely do not exist and we should make our lives count in this one.
So, what better way to make the universe count than spend a bank holiday weekend with cats and sci-fi literature?
Eva St. John follows the multiple universe theory and thus creates a sci-fi gem that tells us the story of Quantum Curators, time travels from Alpha Earth who time travel to Beta Earth, which would be our Earth, to recover artistic artefacts that are known to be destroyed at Beta Earth. They know this is due to be destroyed thanks to information from the Quantum system that also takes them to Beta Earth and enables travel between universes. What is also interesting is that Curators can travel in time as well as travel to attend live events so the main event in this book is a live event where Quantum Curators are trying to save Faberge’s egg that has not been noted or described as existing because it was given to the Russian Imperial family and never recovered, and now it is about to be discovered and then accidentally destroyed during the recovery in Cambridge, UK.
What was remarkable for me in this book was the description of differences between Alpha and Beta Earth where Alpha is a different world based on a much more advanced technology unseen at Beta, as well as more advanced human relations with very little crime, almost identical equality between countries thus no poverty or violence, more kindness and amazing love for arts that enables the Quantum Centre, based in Alexandria in Egypt fund time travel and jumping between universes to save arts that were about to be destroyed. The events when artefacts are saved and revealed are celebrated in the Alpha Earth as a whole, thus showing a world where arts are appreciated, as well as a world where there is no inequality and violence but there is a highly developed technology that saves arts. The characters in the book reflect on Beta Earth and their way of living calling us because Beta is our Earth, violent, aggressive and unappreciated of arts and each other. But, at the same time, we are also a world where acts of kindness can be celebrated because they do not happen often as well as a place with good food, hot chocolate and a talent to create arts that seems to be missing on Alpha. This immediately made me reflect on my ecofeminism research where I wrote that the world is dressed in masculine and marked by technological developments that will not save the Earth and that we need a world dressed in feminine, which would be a world of collaboration.
What is more, on Alpha, there is no superstition or religion and if you cannot prove something, you have to keep your beliefs at home and leave them at the doorstep. This is again something I mentioned in my book, and something I agree with, as indeed many religious institutions on earth are patriarchal and have participated in fostering and promoting gender inequality for hundreds of years. It is enough to remember the beginning of modern medicine when women were burnt as witches for trying to use natural methods to heal people (Gaard, 2011; Griffin, 2020; 2015; d’Eaubonne & Michel, 1997; Topić, 2021).
Therefore, this book is a sci-fi story and we learn about time-travel and parallel universes, as well as go through an action writing of trying to retrieve the egg and fight unknown internal enemies and traitors who are trying to snatch it from Neath, the team leader and the main character who works with Julius, Cambridge professor and researcher. But we also get to learn about different worlds, the one we currently live in and then one we could have if we collaborated and worked together to tackle poverty and inequality. A very thoughtful book and very well written. It truly has something for everyone, sci-fi fans, philosophy-minded readers and those who love good action and excitement. I will not go into details as I do not want to spoil it but I do look forward to the book club discussion on the 7th of September.
The book currently has four parts and this was book 1 so I guess you know what I will do for the rest of my evening?
Thank you for reading.
d’Eaubonne, F. & Michel, A. (1997). An Open Letter to the Pope. Ecofem Journal. Retrieved from http://richardtwine.com/ecofem/pope.pdf
Gaard, G. (2011). Ecofeminism Revisited: Rejecting Essentialism and Re-Placing Species in a Material Feminist Environmentalism. Feminist Formations, 23(2), 26-53.
Griffin, S. (2020). Održivost i duša. In – Marjanić, S., & Đurđević, G. (eds), Ekofeminizam – između ženskih i zelenih studija. Zagreb: Durieux.
Griffin, S. (2015). Woman and Nature. Newburyport: Open Road Media.
Topić, M. (2021). Corporate Social Responsibility and Environmental Affairs in the British Press: An Ecofeminist Critique of Neoliberalism. London: Routledge.
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