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The Disestablishment Of Paradise by Philip Mann (book review).

May 19, 2020 | By | Reply More

A book of wonderful imagery and almost mystical storytelling, Phillip Mann’s ‘The Disestablishment Of Paradise’ takes us on a magical journey of the far future where one of mankind’s colony worlds is being abandoned and left to nature. It’s not for the sake of nature that this disestablishment of the colony is taking place. After three generations of mining and agriculture and the extinction of several large species, it comes down to economics. The colony is to be deconstructed and all humans relocated.

None of the colonists on Paradise, nor any of the long-term scientific researchers, are happy at this development, chief among the malcontents being Dr. Hera Melhuish. She leads the official protests against the decision and ultimately decides to stay alone on the planet for the final three months while the orbital station is mothballed. It is during this time that the plant-like life forms begin to behave even more strangely than they have already and the planet itself seems to be finally responding to mankind’s two-century-long assault.

The book is written in the form of a biography of Hera Melhuish and includes an introduction and interjections by the biographer Olivia, transcripts of conversations between the two women and the inclusion of several additional documents to provide background on the colony world of Paradise and the strange history of the colony. It offers an interesting way to tell the tale, sometimes breaking up the flow of the narrative but always adding depth to the story.

Unlike other books I’ve read where extraneous documents are interspersed in the text, in this book all of the additional material is at the end. This means you can chose to read them when they’re referred to or wait until you’ve finished the novel itself and then read them as an afterword of kinds.

The tale follows Hera through the initial seemingly-standard story of colonisation and conflict and moves onto a much stranger tale as she and her newly-acquired companion Mack explore the astonishing changes taking places among the planet’s bioforms. Everything about the planet is odd and Paradise exerts some kind of psychic effect on the two explorers so that it becomes unclear whether some of their actions are inspired by the planet or whether they really do seem to be living in a fairy tale.

It’s a fascinating book, intriguingly told and presents a refreshingly original take on the old adages of colonisation and environmental degradation.

Gareth D. Jones

May 2020

(pub: Gollancz, 2013. 515 page enlarged paperback. Price: £14.99 (UK only). ISBN: 978-0-575-13262-7)

check out websites: www.gollancz.com, www.orionbooks.co.uk and www.phillipmann.co.nz

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Category: Books, MEDIA, Scifi

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