Elkie Riches' debut novel is an amazing tour de force bringing together rich story-telling and startling ideas, but it is also a work of sophisticated literary art. That is, hold-on! This book is not what you might think it is.Reclamation can be purchased through Amazon HERE. Kindle version HERE.
Sharply drawn in a brisk and vivid style, RECLAMATION begins as a science fiction novel with familiar (though fresh) New Age and Eco-feminist themes. The world has slipped into a historical phase called the "Turning" in which Nature has revolted against the human race--not so much because of the abuse of the environment as for humanity's lack of sympathy with the interweaving streams of reflexive consciousness that nature collectively represents. The conflict manifests as a struggle between human beings and animated shrubbery, strangely sentient animals, and less tangible shape-shifting entities that manifest themselves in whirlwinds of twigs, dust, blowing leaves, and (apparently) in the corpses of dead human beings. Civilization has crumbled, and what's left of the human race builds fortresses atop the ruins of the world's great capitals, and a strict military order is maintained to defend what's left of humanity from the flora and fauna that run wild. Specially trained (and thoroughly despised) intelligence gatherers of the Shaman Division are used to monitor the confusing intentions of the (un)natural order which effusively possess the shaman's minds. Meanwhile, faceless corporations orbit the earth in satellites directing the "reclamation" of earth from the enemy nature. But this is where the novel itself "turns" into something that is quite unexpected--and quite frightening. Riches' strangely vivid and energetic prose turns against the story itself, producing the effect of something that the present reader was at odds to come to terms with. At the risk of diminishing Riches' profound mythological performance that is better "felt" than described, RECLAMATION could be characterized as a prose poem about the interweaving boundaries between consciousness and reality. Readers of Philip K. Dick and Jorge Luis Borges will find themselves in familiar (and disturbing) territory. Imbedded in the conflict between humanity and nature is a deeper and more profound struggle that possess reality like the shape shifters that possess whirlwinds or the minds of the shamans--that is, the beliefs of living matter itself are struggling to shape themselves and identify what they are and what they--in some fleeting shamanic glimpse--mean to themselves. Yes, Love does survive the conflict, but does the human race, at least as we know it?