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THE SEED
By DAVIDE DE ANGELIS (Creation Books; 2004)

I'm not sure I liked this book all that much, but it exerts a definite druggy fascination. The debut novel of musician/video artist Davide de Angelis, THE SEED reads like an acid trip rethink of THE SANDMAN, with a character known as Dreamweaver caught in the Seed, a hallucinatory realm inhabited by ghosts, androids and malevolent deities looking to use their dream-powers to overthrow the universe.

     The proceedings are profoundly hallucinogenic from start to finish, spiced with words like "poltergeistic" and sentences like "The tingling afterglow of ecstatic abandon crawled on their skin, and they sensed the flash of a dreadful portent cloaked in its touch," yet also resolutely plot-driven. Indeed, the narrative is so insanely complex and ever-shifting I lost track of its convolutions early on. Nonetheless, I'll attempt a summary…

     The setting is a future world whose populace no longer dreams. It's up to Dreamweaver and others like him to keep humanity from going crazy by creating elaborate dream-stories brought back from The Seed. But then something goes wrong and the Seed is overtaken by Sirens who want to use Dreamweaver to further their own nefarious ends. It's up to him to fight back against the Sirens--if he can manage to resist their seductive power--and restore the Seed to its former glory.

     That, keep in mind, is an extremely brief recounting of the constantly mutating narrative, which undergoes a new permutation on seemingly every page. It's best to simply bask in the author's wonderfully fecund imagery and unflagging imagination, which encompasses myth, magic, futuristic speculation and Lovecraftian horror. There's also a wild good-vs.-evil climax packed with orgiastic destruction that's right out of an eastern fantasy film.

     The problem is a lack of peaks and valleys that are essential to any narrative, with every page awash in hallucinatory wonder and a bemused tone that never varies. Yet it takes a uniquely talented author to sustain such a wealth of manic invention, and THE SEED is always fun to read, even if it doesn't entirely satisfy on every front. 

     

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