Heather Spears:The Children of Atwar

[some spoilers for this book and its prequel, Moonfall]

Heather Spears is one of the most unique writers I've ever read.

And I mean that. This isn't just a circuitous way of saying "bad". She's really different. So she may not be to everybody's taste. She's a poet, who has won several awards for her poetry, and has now turned to prose. She's Canadian, but currently living in Denmark.

To briefly summarize Moonfall, the previous book in the series: Far in the future, the Earth has become mostly uninhabitable except for the area above the Arctic Circle(and presumably below the Antarctic). In addition, most "people" are bicephalic twins, by which I mean two heads(with separate consciousnesses)sharing one body between them. Tasman is born with only one head, and she grows up aware of this difference. She has children herself, twins with two bodies(i.e. twins as we're used to them), Atwar and Betwar.

The "Moonfall" of the title is the steadily-shrinking orbit of the moon, which is making life difficult--earth tremors are growing more common, not to mention the horrific tides. The Outdead, an old monocephalic race(i.e. us, or our descendants)left provision to deal with this...but the bicephalic twins are too large to fit into the craft required. Only Atwar, whose legs were shriveled by a childhood accident, is able to enter a ship and depart for the moon(which seems to have been terraformed sometime in the interim).

Now, in the second book, Betwar's monocephalic children are raised specifically to follow Atwar...their legs are bound from birth to stunt them properly. A cult has grown up around Atwar, and Betwar and his children have to deal with them and the changes brought about in the world by the receding of the moon.

This book is very low-key. It doesn't help that almost half of the book's length is taken up by an extensive glossary of Riksprok, the Scandinavian-descended language spoken, and another collection of songs and poetry(mostly concerned with the new religion of Atwar)both in Riksprok and translated. In the ca. 200 pages that remain, we devote most of our time to watching Betwar's children grow up and the cult dominate the settlement. At the end, the children are sent off to follow Atwar, but presumably what they find is saved for the next book.

The only comparison that comes to mind is Gabriel Garcia Marquez...and that mostly because Spears' work reads like it's been translated from another language. Perhaps this is intentional--it is supposed to have been translated from Riksprok--or perhaps it's just her style.

This book may not be widely available outside of Canada(and maybe Scandinavia, which would be appropriate...), but I imagine you could special-order it if you were curious. Myself, I'm curious enough to want to know what happens in the next book...

%A Spears, Heather
%T The Children of Atwar
%I Beach Holme Tesseract
%C Victoria, B.C.
%D Copyright 1993
%G ISBN 0-88878-335-3
%P 264 pp.
%S Moonfall
%V Book 2
%O Paperback, Can$7.95

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The Den of Ubiquity / Aaron V. Humphrey / alfvaen@gmail.com