AUTHOR: Peter T. Allen
AVAILABILITY: Amazon US (paperback), Amazon US (Kindle e-book), Amazon UK (paperback), Amazon UK (Kindle e-book)
APPROXIMATE LENGTH: 284 pages
Recommended for fans of cerebral science fiction.
Mother of the World is a cerebral examination of a futuristic society and culture. It takes its time in laying out the world and its histories.
Third person. Much of the story is told from the point of view of Peae, the protagonist, and at times the narrator depicts other points of view.
Mother of the World takes place in the far future. Humans populate the planet, but know little about their origins other than what the powerful Motherene religion tells them. It seems as though human history has regressed—religion dominates and science is treated as secondary. In many ways, this future resembles Europe during the Renaissance, in that both Religion and Science have their places, but Religion is by far the more influential power.
In this future, a scientist named Peae travels the world seeking answers to the mystery of where his people came from. According to the Motherenes, the Seed of Erteae fell from the sky, which grew into humanity, and the almighty Mother nurtured the early humans. Believe a more scientific explanation for human origins exists, Peae traces human migration patterns and eventually discovers anomalies that threaten to debunk the widespread creation myth.
Mother of the World, which follows Peae’s travels and studies, examines this speculative culture in a very cerebral manner. The narrative depicts Peae’s thoughts and conversations as he moves from hypothesis to hypothesis, uncovering hints as to humanity’s origins. As his suspicions grow, he is joined on his quest by a handful of other truth seekers, who each have their own theories as well. Meanwhile, he must be careful of what he says, for the Motherenes wouldn’t be happy if they knew of his discoveries. After all, his studies could upend everything they believe in.
The themes of science versus religion are very well thought out, and the revelation at the end of the novel ties everything together neatly. In fact, the last 10% or so of the book, in which the truth behind humanity’s existence is finally revealed, is probably one of the most interesting pieces of speculative fiction I’ve seen recently.
Allen sets himself apart from other writers in his genre by being unafraid to slow down his story. So much of science fiction today is about relentless pacing, imminent danger, and instant gratification. Allen takes a more classical approach to literature. There’s something almost academic about the way he lays out his words, almost as if Mother of the World were a dramatized historical document. The book reminded me somewhat of the medieval histories I read back at universities, penned by erudite scholars rather than fanciful storytellers.
Allen’s writing style flows with a somewhat melodic quality, and the narrator seems as invested in the tale as the characters. For instance, here is a passage from an early chapter:
“Truly, he thought, in all this splendid and incredible world, there are many things to see, but amongst those nature has created in endless blindness, human works shine out like beacons. Here we are, they proclaim. Here we are! Over the sites of ancient towns and roads and bridges, all erected for good reasons, all complete and perfect in their service of past business, hangs the brilliant message: here is humanity at work, rendering new forms using the light of science. How doubly strange then that light should shine from buildings erected for the glorification of the unscientific, for the worship of unsubstantiated ideas and imagined beings.”
Mother of the World is a unique piece of science fiction that explores the line between science and religion without passing judgment on either. It challenges the reader and requires some patience to read, but suffice it to say that the end makes the rest of the novel well worth the wait.
THE NITPICKY STUFF
There are some small errors, but nothing too distracting.
This book is pretty mild and doesn’t contain much in the way of sex, violence, or adult language.
AUTHOR INFO[From the author's Amazon UK page]
Peter T. Allen began his education in maths and physics and ended in social psychology. He dropped out of senior school just before that became trendy and, after jobs in industry and commerce, graduated (B.Sc. Ph.D) at Southampton.
He was senior fellow at the University of Surrey and president of the Society for Risk Analysis - Europe. Along the way he was married two and a half times and raised four children. He lives in Kent.