Monday, May 16, 2016

Book Review: The Deep Gods

Book Review: 'The Deep Gods' by David Mason


3 / 5 Stars

‘The Deep Gods’ (192 pp) was published by Lancer Books in August 1973; the striking cover art is by Charles Moll.

David Mason was the pen name used by the English writer Samuel Mason (1924 – 1974). Lancer Books published all three of Mason’s science fiction novels, including The Sorcerer's Skull (1970) and The Shores of Tomorrow (1971).

‘The Deep Gods’ is set in the Hyborean Age, thousands of years before recorded history. In this ancient time humans frequently communicate with sea mammals, most notable dolphins, whales, and otters, and participate in communal seaside ceremonies that reaffirm and strengthen the bonds between Man and Animal.

As the novel opens, the city of Alvanir, in the territory of Eloranar (located in what is modern-day Antarctica) is in turmoil following the seeming death of Egon, its youngest and most charismatic fisherman and artisan. Egon has apparently drowned – but to the astonishment of the people of Alvanir, Egon’s corpse revives……now inhabited by the spirit and personality of Daniel, a man from late 20th – century England.

Once he adjusts to being reincarnated in the body of a man living thousands of years ago, Daniel sets about familiarizing himself with the prehistoric world in which he lives. This is made easy by the fact that possessing Egon’s body gives Daniel the ability to telepathically communicate with the Sea Folk – i.e., the dolphins, whales, and otters.

As the novel unfolds, Daniel-Egon leads the people of Alvanir out into the world, and thus, into conflict with a mysterious, threatening entity known as the One Who Is Lost –a creature of great age, now in the grip of increasing madness. The One Who Is Lost has recruited an army of both humans and sea animals to do his bidding: create the Zanclean Flood by destroying a Sea Wall at the Strait of Gibraltar, and releasing the Atlantic Ocean to create what will become known as the Mediterranean Sea.

Can Daniel-Egon use his knowledge of modern science and technology to provide his faction with the weapons and tactics needed to stymie the onslaught of the One Who Is Lost ? Or will the peoples residing in the basin of the present-day Mediterranean Sea be drowned in the Zanclean Flood ?

‘The Deep Gods’ is one of those novels that mixes and matches a number of sci-fi and fantasy concepts in an improvised, often contrived manner; but at the same time, succeeds in keeping the whole mess sufficiently engaging to furnish a readable novel.

The major trope at work in ‘Gods’ is the fascination with dolphins and other sea mammals that was prominent in American pop culture in the late 60s and early 70s, aided and abetted by the eccentric genius John Lilly (1915 – 2001).

‘The Deep Gods’ is primarily an adventure novel, with episodes of prehistoric combat, raids, marching armies, sieges, and personal vendettas serving to keep the narrative moving along at a good clip. But the metaphysical aspects of the plot, however ‘far out’ they may be, give the novel an imaginative quality that makes it a bit more intriguing than the usual run-of-the-mill science fantasy adventure. To that end, if you see this one on the shelf of your used bookstore, it may be worth picking up.

1 comment:

Victoria Lee said...

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