Hello Ghouls and Boils,
Miss the live show? Listen to the archived interview! Enjoy, my fiends!
Sarah L. Covert
In a world where the human population has been decimated, self-reliance is the order of the day. Of necessity, the few remaining people must adapt residual technology as far as possible, with knowledge gleaned from books that were rescued and have been treasured for generations. After a childhood of such training, each person is abandoned by their parents when they reach adulthood, to pursue an essentially solitary existence. For most, the only human contact is their counsel, a mentor who guides them to find ‘the one’, their life mate as decreed by Fate. Lack of society brings with it a lack of taboo, ensuring that the Fate envisioned by a counsel is enacted unquestioningly. The only threats to this stable, if sparse, existence are the ‘lost men’, mindless murderers who are also self-sufficient but with no regard for the well-being of others, living outside the confines of counsel and Fate.
Is Fate a real force, or is it totally imagined, an arbitrary convention, a product of mankind’s self-destructive tendency? In this allegorical tale, David Colón uses an alternate near-future to explore the boundaries of the human condition and the extent to which we are prepared to surrender our capacity for decisions and self-determination in the face of a very personally directed and apparently benevolent, authoritarianism. Is it our responsibility to rebuke inherited ‘wisdom’ for the sake of envisioning and manifesting our own will?
A pillar of honesty (when not defending myself in court), I must admit that I had a hard time submerging myself into Mr. Colón’s post-apocalyptic world. But once I did, I found myself drowning in a starkly beautiful, symbolic narrative.
The characters are enviable. Without the constraints and relative safety of society, they survive — and seemingly thrive — on the basics: knowledge, self-preservation and their own new-fangled belief system; one that relies heavily upon Fate and the “mentors” who interpret it. They eschew the old forms of religion and corrupt contraptions of civilization, choosing instead to live their solitary lives for “the one”.
On the outskirts of this chimerical existence, the Lost Men linger. They are a reminder of what was and what must always be; creatures without conscience that have strayed from the path. They have no true purpose in life; but the infliction of pain gives them reason to live. Fate abandoned them long ago.
Personally I find the idea of any utopian society completely unfathomable, the depths of which our inherently human lines could never fully measure. And as our story unfolds, it seems I’m not the only one who shares this rather stark belief. With the sweet comes the sour, and the bitterness that lingers is capable of toppling the most stoic of men. Even in an untamed, idealistic world, our baser natures will always prevail. To quote Yeats’ The Second Coming:
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.
And who is more passionate than the hand that wields Fate?
Insightfully written, I finished the book in a few hours. However, the thoughts and feelings it evoked kept me up well past the witching hour.
I give The Lost Men three and a half tentacles.
Brandi Jording, Minion/Reviewer