For a Few Souls More by Guy Adams
For a Few Souls More is the third and maybe concluding novel in a series called the“Heaven’s Gate” trilogy. I haven’t read the first two stories, so I came to this story with out all the background. It didn’t matter too much.
This story is a crazy fantasy set in a weird “Wild West” in which “the uprising in Heaven is over and Paradise has fallen, becoming the 43rd state in America”. The (confusing) action involves the numerous implications of this sudden mixing of heaven, hell, and the mundane Earth. And, by the way, god appears to be dead, assainated, if you can believe that.
If the plot sound nuts, don’t worry about it. While nothing makes sense in the story, its partly because things really couldn’t make sense, could they? In any case, the story seems to mainly be an excuse for a series of disconnected scents, visiting interesting heavenly, hellish, and in between sites, populated with weird and wonderful folks.
One of the themes of the story is “we’re all just folks, however different.” The demons are often very human (in the ways that count), paradise isn’t that swell, and, of course, hell is other people. There are good folks and bad folks everywhere.
Along the way, Adams plays around with Inferno-like visualizations of eternal punishments and interesting demonic creatures. He has some ideas about the “business model” of the domain of circles (AKA “hell”). He brings a certain rationality to the ideas of the infernal regions, and points out that tormenting the damned for all eternity is not necessary an interesting occupation, at least for most demons. Why should we have to spend all eternity chastizing these mortals, who have offended god, not us?
Most of the folk in ‘the circles’ are just out to live their life (however peculiar it might be by own mundane standards). Only a few are really into torture and abuse.
Adams has a wonderful imagination, so many of the scenes are quite memorable. Very Dante. Crashing the cultures of heaven, hell, and Earth together makes for interesting learning on all sides. Introducing a money economy to hell will be an interesting social experiment, and for mortal humans, intuitions about what is “normal” will never recover.
Unfortunately, for all the great imagery and imaginative situations, this story is mostly incomprehensible, confused, and not that interesting. I like his later work much better.
- Guy Adams, For a Few Souls More, Oxford, Solaris, 2015.
Sunday Book Reviews