by Travis Jeppesen
Tanya is one of those loser chicks you remember from high school destined for early pregnancy and welfare. Her boy friend L.D. does in fact knock her up and then dies, and she’s left to raise little Herbert with no skills, no money, and no help from anyone. Things go from bad to worse, and soon she finds herself living with an apocalyptic cult called the “Overcomers”.
Like so many cults, they await the return of the mother ship to pick them up, and the ticket off this rock is self-immolation. All this is a big step up for Tanya — there’s food, a place to sleep, and everyone likes her. Even the fire thing doesn’t seem so bad, as it’s off in the indefinite future. After a decade or so, Herbert grows up and wanders off the compound, and finds a life with no visible means of support for himself. He enters into a long stream of consciousness lifestyle that, if nothing else, kills time. Eventually, the mother ship does arrive, everyone pleasantly burns to death, and the cult finds its place in the intergalactic pecking order. Boy, is THAT a surprise!
This is one of the oddest books on religious cults I’ve ever encountered. It never points them out as evil, but treats them matter-of-factly as a group drawn together by common beliefs and rituals, no different from the Masons or the SPCA. True, there’s the setting yourself on fire thing, but even that seems to have a positive outcome. The people drawn in seem genuinely better for the experience, and while they proselytize, they don?t appear to abduct.
This not your standard cults expose, and while I find that an interesting take, the story is burdened with long inexplicable stretches of Herbert and his friends and their endless empty dialog. What’s missing is an explanation of where the cult idea originates, and what effect it has outside it’s own insular universe. The read is enjoyable, but the story leaves you wondering “why”, and as you close the covers it’s hard to describe the idea the author wants you to carry off. Turkey pot pie, anyone?
Akashic Books: http://www.akashicbooks.com/