Monday, November 29, 2021

One from my Shelves: Mysterium, by Robert Charles Wilson

Imagine you lived in a small town and suddenly it was yanked away from your reality and dropped into another, while familiar is not your own. 

That’s the opening of Mysterium, by Robert Charles Wilson.  Wilson is a capable author who is responsible for the excellent Burning Paradise reviewed earlier in this space

Early one morning, the residents of the town of Two Rivers, Michigan, wake up to find themselves cut off from the outside world. The power has failed and the roads are cut off. We quickly find out, thanks to an experiment at a local research facility gone awry, they have been shifted across timelines. 

Wilson takes great care to paint a picture of the world the town’s residents have landed in. It’s a theocratic version of North America called the Consolidated Republic, built on a form of Gnostic Christianity that briefly flourished in the Middle Ages, but lasted in this reality. The Republic is dominated by its religious secret police, the proctors.

The Republic and the proctors quickly occupy and clamp down on the town, treating it with a mixture of curiosity and horror.   The sudden emergence of the town and its residents is a direct challenge to be quashed ruthlessly.  They act of out fear. They see Twin Rivers as a threat to everything they stand for.  

Meanwhile, the residents of Two Rivers are faced with a world, not of their making.  How they react is based is as varied as the individual character. Some individuals, like school teacher and main protagonist Dexter Graham, try to adapt but become openly suspicious. He also manages to fall in love with  Evelyn Woodward, one of the academics whom the Republic has sent to study the town. Evelyn, in turn, has her eyes opened by what she sees.

Wilson has an eye for detail that paints a picture of the town of Two Rivers as an idealized town stuck under a malevolent alien microscope.  He also takes great care to detail the new world that we reader finds ourselves in.

He also keeps the plot moving along enough to sustain the reader’s interest.

Recommended reading. 

What's Next?

I apologize for taking so long between reviews.  I'll try to do better.

In the meantime, you can purchase Elvis Saves JFK! for just 99 cents and War Plan Crimson, A Novel of Alternate History, for $2.99 (both free to preview). All books -- which are already on Smashword's premium distribution list -- are also available through such fine on-line retailers such as Sony, Chapters Indigo, Barnes & Noble and Apple's iTunes Store.

Until then, please take care of yourselves.