Friday, November 11, 2005

Mini-Review “The Traveler” by John Twelve Hawks

I drank the Cool Aid; I bought the marketing hype. I am a sucker for catchy a nom de plume and an intriguing backstory. So, I read “The Traveler.” It is not great literature, but it was an interesting read. If I had to come up with a category for this book, I would call it a “metaphysical fantasy.” This novel is not easy to describe, so I will summarize it in the words of the publisher:

“Maya comes from a long line of people who call themselves Harlequins – a fierce group of warriors willing to sacrifice their lives to protect a select few knows as Travelers. Gabriel and Michael Corrigan are brothers living in Los Angeles. Since childhood, the young men have been shaped by stories that their late father was a Traveler, once of a small band of prophets who have vastly influenced the course of history. Gabriel and Michael, who may have inherited their father’s gifts, have always protected themselves by living “off the Grid” – that is, invisible to the real-life surveillance networks that monitor people in our modern society.”

There you have it. Imagine a gathering of creative minds – a colloquy in which George Orwell, Aldous Huxley, H. G. Wells, Jules Verne, Carlos Castenada, Stephen King, Niccolo Machiavelli, Ayn Rand and Stephen Hawking each contributed ideas for a story. Then throw in a dash of the rantings of the Unibomber, Ted Kaczynski. If you took each individual writer’s philosophical bent and mode of expression and pasted it upon a storyboard – in the fashion of a collage - you would have something approaching “The Traveler.” And if someone were to make it into a film, it would have to be shot in the style of Japanese anime or else using the innovative technique - digital animation superimposed over live footage - that Richard Linklater used so effectively in his groundbreaking film "Waking Life."

Amidst the metaphysical posturing by the iconoclastic and pseudonymous author, John Twelve Hawks, I found some occasional worthwhile nuggets in the narrative. Gabriel, one of the brothers seeking to discover if he has inherited his father’s mantle as a Traveler, has just successfully “crossed over” into another realm. His spiritual guide in this process of discovery warns him of the dangers of hubris. It is a classic cautionary tale that any leader in any realm would do well to heed – whether he be a denizen of the West Wing or a recalcitrant receiver named T.O. who used to fly down the field on Eagles’ wings to catch footballs lobbed his way by Donovan McNabb:

“In ancient Rome, when a great general came back from a successful war, they would parade him in triumph through the streets of the city. First would come the armor of the men he had killed and the standards he had taken, and then the captive soldiers and their families. Next came the general’s army and his officers and, finally, the great man himself in a golden chariot. One servant would guide the horses while another stood behind the victor and whispered in his ear: ‘You are mortal. You are a mortal man.’” (page 368)

The final page ends with these words: “Book One of The Fourth Realm.” I am confident that this is a promise of a series of sequels. I am sure the next one will make for good vacation reading next summer.


No comments: