Author: Eva St John
The Great Deceiver or book five of the Quantum Curators series ended this part of the series I’ve been reading and enjoying enormously. I misunderstood the author’s recent newsletter announcement about the story’s finale and thought this series sadly ends here so I savoured it and read it slowly, but a lovely surprise came when I read, at the end of The Great Deceiver, that the series will continue with stories of collaboration between Beta and Alpha earth, stories of stranded curators, etc. So, it is just this story of Neith and Julius and their attempts to discover crime and deception at otherwise peaceful and lawful Alpha that ended. I could not be more delighted, and I can’t wait for new books.
As already mentioned, The Great Deceiver ends this first story and we read the story of Julius on Beta after forceful repatriation from Alpha which happened at the end of the last book and then the story of Neith at Alpha, trying to stop Minju from destroying Alpha’s way of living whilst also pretending to be her ally and alienating her friends to protect them. Time travel or multiverse travel does not feature as much in The Great Deceiver, as in others, but there is a story of stranded curators on Beta who built a powerful and rich organization that assesses art and found artefacts, which is not surprising given that curators are the ones retrieving and saving them during their lifetime as curators. The Alexandria Company works in London and has grown powerful thanks to the curator’s knowledge of Beta, so they played the stock exchange well and made money. Julius thus makes friends and starts working with them in an exciting twist of an event with some artefacts mysteriously being returned from Alpha but in a clear violation of the Alpha’s alleged policy of returning Beta artefacts only when it is safe to do so because Minju, the new pharaoh decided to build Alpha art centre and start making Alphas artistic and not just scientific. She tries to make Alpha World move away from the domination of engineers to a New World Order and does not hold back in her attempts to achieve what she wants…
Since this part of the story now ended, with The Great Deceiver part, I started to reflect on some questions this lovely book series raised. The series is not just a sci-fi book series that opens questions on various theories of time travel and the multiverse, but it is more than that. I wrote about this in different blogs about this series (see all blogs here) and indeed, the book shows two worlds, one with a superiority complex led by engineers and thus focused on rational thinking where arts are appreciated but not produced because a focus on science did not yield creative and artistic thinking and the other one where arts are thriving but is fundamentally violent with lots of wars, corruption and suspicion embedded in the world and embodied into bodies of Beta’s. There are some interesting statements here about Beta Earth and the author clearly shows that things are not always what they seem and that there is some good in everyone. So, whilst Alphas are obedient and only work with evidence and reason and trust their authorities to look after them, Julius is the suspicious one and often sees things from a different angle which many Alpha residents start to recognize as useful even though, previously, they thought it was appalling. However, at the same time, a society led by engineers and scientists marked with obedience has found itself in shock to learn that Alphas are still humans and can do wrong. I was left wondering, since the villain is a former curator whether it was the influence of Beta that made her change and decide to do things differently. I also kept wondering whether Minju will turn out to be a good character who just wants to change things, but the last bit of the book showed her true intentions and the way the book ended, is very interesting when it comes to Minju.
So, it transpires that we can only achieve obedience and unquestionable following of law and order if we close our societies and do not interact with others, but is this really good? I don’t think closing ourselves from other humans could ever be good regardless of their influence and thus I always supported freedom and democracy as a way of living regardless of its apparent failures (the tyranny of the majority being the apparent one, just look at how elections work) because what is the alternative? Being closed and isolated, Alpha’s story shows that does not always work well because there will always be people who won’t do good. Whilst I do enjoy the idea of a society based on science and evidence, with conspiracy theories and undermining of science not being allowed, I did wonder throughout this series, is this possible and would we not end up like Alpha, unable to figure anything out when things go wrong because we are not used to debating and questioning things and there is no creativity that comes from freedom of speech, the latter is something I always cherished but does not seem to be a value on Alpha? Freedom of speech, along with freedom of scholarly inquiry are two values that are dear to me, and I get very stressed when this is questioned or impeded. This book series, regardless of being sci-fi, convinced me I was always right if I ever doubted it (I didn’t, I am like Alphas, rarely doubting myself lol).
There is also the question of masculinity and femininity. If we look at ecofeminism theory, we will see that lots of works specifically say that technology that is creeping up into our lives and redefining how we live and communicate, is fundamentally a masculine construct that goes back to witch hunts, which started when men worked on developing science and modern medicine with women, who were healers, being declared as witches and thus persecuted. However, there is no discrimination against Alphas and the society is equal. This is one of the reasons they look down on Betas so this initially opened a question for me whether a society based on reason and science would achieve equality but then I remembered disgraceful stats on women in STEM and thought hm, doubtful. At least on this earth, anyway. Some authors asked whether science fundamentally discriminates against women too, a compelling question and based on evidence (note the irony), it appears to do so. At the same time, Beta is portrayed as chaotic and imperfect but at the same time beautiful, artistic and with better food (at least for Julius), etc. So, a metaphor of Beta as Nature, wild, untamed and chaotic emerges here but at the same time, we know there is discrimination on Beta Earth. So, there is some food for thought here and I hope that the author develops this further.
In summary, the book series opens up some very interesting questions on multiverse theories, time travel but also a way of living and what would be an ideal world. Can we even have one? The Great Deceiver is a perfect ending for the series with an interesting cliffhanger…
Thank you for reading!