The rich and privileged have fled the city, barricaded it behind roadblocks, and left it to crumble. The inner city has had to rediscover old ways–farming, barter, herb lore. But now the monied need a harvest of bodies, and so they prey upon the helpless of the streets. With nowhere to turn, a young woman must open herself to ancient truths, eternal powers, and the tragic mystery surrounding her mother and grandmother.
In a tribal utopia, an unprecedented human emotion is unlocked. It may be the key to an almost miraculous future.
But a vicious, predatory rot is also growing. And soon Jak, his best friend Martin, and his sister Laura, will become embroiled in a struggle that will irrevocably alter their lives, their society, and ultimately, the World…
Title: The 8th Emotion | Author: Joshua Spilleron | Publisher: Splendour Publishing | Pub. Date: 18 December 2018 | Pages: 352 | ISBN: 9781999634407 | Genre: Science Fiction | Language: English | Starred Review: No | Source: Author for review consideration
The 8th Emotion Review
Joshua Spiller’s debut dismantles the Utopian society, toys with the promise of psychedelics, while warning us of the dangers of group-think and the messiah complex. Set in the distant future, the planet is an uninhabitable waste save for the human oasis of Karthalia. The world-building of the book’s first chapters are limited to the scale of a village, for Karthalia is all that remains in the known world.
Karthalia presents itself as the pinnacle of human peace and cooperation. Its society is partitioned into trade-orientated tribes. Crime, war, strife, and violence are long forgotten. But, as must happen when an attempt is made to re-engineer human nature, trouble stirs beneath Karthalia’s calm surface. One of the tribes, embracing its violent side, threatens the peace and equality. Jakariah (Jak), his friend Martin, and his sister Laura are among the first to detect and respond to the threat.
Set against this revolution is the discovery of a new cognitive experience lurking behind the petals of the “lilaxe” flower that, prepared and smoked in a certain way, expands its collective users’ mutual web of empathy to a universal scale, every human under its influence is connected. This group-high known as “Oceanos” is touted as a new entry on the spectrum of human emotions and signifies the true end of violence for ever.
Spiller’s laser-focussed assault on the perfect social society begins in the first chapter as the peaceful Karthalians have no response to a violent cult in their midst. I was reminded of an episode of “The Simpsons” where, following Lisa’s wish for world peace, Earth is cowed into submission by aliens wielding a plank with a protruding nail. The existence of one weapon makes the arms race inevitable.
Jak discovers Oceanos and leads a resistance movement, actively encouraging the same fervent, unconditional loyalty found in the violent cult he is striving against. The result is a civil war in the Karthalian utopia. Jak moralises the grievous casualties and forced delivery of lilaxe drug as necessary for greater goal of eradicating violence forever. Here Spiller leaves the judgement to the reader.
Apart from Oceanos, a candidate for the next stage of human development, the story does not present anything new, and the writing style may be found by some to be simplistic. The omniscient third-person perspective tells more than it shows and suffers from a paucity of fine details of Karthalia. But the writing is consistent and solid throughout and the plot’s pacing works well for the story being told. We have every reason to look forward to more from this author.
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