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Seven Cities of Gold (2010)

af David Moles

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253719,792 (2.75)5

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Alt-history. Well written, to be sure, like all of David's stuff, but everything's a bit opaque. Felt like it was sliced from something larger. ( )
  Jon_Hansen | May 5, 2017 |
I found the plot, scenes, characters, and language of this novella to be very similar to the movie "Apocalypse Now". So much so that I was unable to enjoy reading this work at all.

If you are interested in this work, I suggest that you watch the movie "Apocalypse Now" first, and then skip this book. ( )
  ogodei | Oct 8, 2010 |
This is a novella of alternate history, starting from the Point of Departure (from our own timeline) in 714CE. The author posits that seven Christian bishops, fleeing the all-conquering armies of the Caliphate, took ship from Oporto, Portugal, and flung themselves over the edge of the world into the mouth of the Acuamagna, or as we call it, the Mississippi.

A millennium and a half of idiot sectarian/colonial warfare ensues. (People are, after all, people, and we do *so* love hating other people, then even killing them, based on which imaginary friend they talk to at night.) Our story begins with the Buddhist Japanese peacekeeping and humanitarian mission to Espirito Santo, the major port city at the mouth of the Acuamagna (New Orleans, in other words), which was devastated by a huge typhoon (Katrina, anyone?) then blown up by the Christians in the world's first atomic bomb blast to keep the city from falling into Muslim hands.

Our PoV character is a Japanese aid worker, tasked with saving the world from these weirdo monotheists (too late, dear) and their latest contribution to disharmony: A prophet called Clara Dos Orsos. The aid worker, addicted to opium, is sent far up the Acuamagna to find and treat--by force if necessary--the prophet for schizophrenia. This, reason the Japanese aid commanders, will end the monomania and psychosis that characterize monotheism's worst excesses.

Needless to say, the story isn't about a triumphal march up the Mighty Mississip' but rather the voyage into the Heart of Darkness. War's horrors, the evils of colonialism, the insanity of religion, none of them new themes. This time they're played out against a backdrop of American territory. But for some small zigs in place of zags, the current Congolese crisis could be played out in Louisiana...an instructive thought. We're not exceptional, Americans, we're exceptionally *lucky* and should be deeply, profoundly, and eternally grateful for our good fortune.

The story itself doesn't feel particulary well glued together. There are holes in the behaviors of some characters, and the charisma of the prophetess Clara Dos Orsos in particular is shortchanged. As it's a novella, though, I wasn't inclined to blame the book for that. Being a beautifully made object earns a title a lot of leeway...and PS Publishing makes beautiful books. I'd recommend the book to lovers of alternate history, and to the curious about the genre a warning: It's addictive, this fictional answering of the question "What if...?" ( )
7 stem richardderus | Jul 7, 2010 |
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