This is the story of the Prince aka the Master aka Francis, who is more or less immortal and goes through the millennia fighting Desire and Rejection, the roots of all unhappiness and evil. He always fails until the moment he loses interest and decides to die, which he doesn’t. Instead he is promoted.
The Prince and the Singularity – A Circular Tale proposes a fictitious Creation Myth, whisking the readers away on a thought-provoking rollercoaster ride of a story that will make them question as never before what they truly believe about the nature of existence. At once funny and controversial, it can be viewed as a heretical twist on established religious teachings or as a sweet and sensitive depiction of the ascension of a Bodhisattva or as. . . well, it’s up to whoever is reading it, really.
You will get out of this story exactly what you put into it. Love it or hate it, though, you will not be able to remain indifferent to the message of this funny, touching, thought-provoking book.
(Review by Clair View, on Amazon UK)
This is a brisk, no holds barred examination of Creation from the standpoint first of Greek Mythology, rapidly followed up by the orthodoxies of Buddhism, Christianity, particle physics, and then a further alternate mythology that seems to be all the author’s own. Never a dull moment, therefore, and frequent touches of humour,pathos, and some fine poetic writing along the way. I doubt you will have read much in this vein before because it is a very original way of looking at things, but fans of Pratchett and Coelho in particular will find some resonances here. Recommended for everyone who has ever wondered: What are we doing here? And where the hell is ‘here’ anyway…
(Review by Ankur Verma, on Amazon USA)
It’s divine writing. I first read the book when it made its debut on “authonomy.com”. To say that the book left the authonomites spellbound would be an understatement. It’s not a tome, but has the wisdom of a Matrixisque Oracle. It is one long fable, and so addictive that most of its readers are gonna read it in one go, no bookmarks required for this one.
A writer struggles to finish a book that someone else started writing, battling to weave his own characters and plot into the pre-existing manuscript.
A group of well-off old people in a retirement home seek relief from boredom by using an internet service which allows them to live out their fantasies virtually. Two working-class men, one young and disenfranchised, one a lifelong Communist, discuss their differing world views. An unstable computer genius and a control freak banker form an uneasy alliance to launch a new internet sensation, while the free-spirited girlfriend of one of them, Marlene, wreaks havoc wherever she goes. In the midst of this confusion, her best friend Sofia searches for a kinder, simpler way of life.
All these stories gradually interconnect in the most unexpected ways…
By turns cynical and romantic, satirical and unexpectedly sweet, “Marlene and Sofia – A Double Love Story” reflects the sexual and political contradictions of contemporary living.
(Review by Ray H, on Amazon USA)
“Marlene and Sofia – A Double Love Story,” the latest from Portuguese author Pedro Barrento (author of the whimsical-yet-deep Prince and the Singularity) is an ambitious novel.
Complex and thought-provoking, it can be hard to follow the various plots and diaries and takes a while to understand how this would considered be a love story. Characters introduced in separate storylines are slowly developed and then interact with each other, as the reader discovers their connections – be it by relatives or online interaction. The title characters Marlene and Sofia themselves take a while to appear. Then there is Joaquim, Manual who is father to Sofia, and the fling with Tiago. Some chapters are flashbacks to an earlier time as well. Pasts, from the sordid to the innocent, are revealed.
Right from the beginning, there is a clever metatextual section about how best-selling authors the world over secretly being assigned settings and characters by a mysterious imposing body. It is satirical and amusing, and oddly enough it rather fits with regards to Hollywood-style rules in the Writer’s Guild.
But this is no Hollywood formulaic story. It has more depth than that. There are treatises and quips on freedom, sexuality, family, and youth. Observations on the advantages of a simpler authoritarian past versus a bureaucratic modern democracy. Conversations about Marxism. Cynical takes on how men and women treat each other. Tragic short stories that are harsh critiques on sexist conservative 1940s culture, contrasted with the burgeoning sexuality of other character’s histories. Hints of supernatural forces at play. Digital futurism, and more.
In one early scene, an old man walks a dog and the narration describes the differing sensory perception of each species, and then states “they walked along together, but in two distinct universes.” It’s a nice line, and upon reflection it’s also just might explain more to what this story really means…
Halfway through the story becomes extremely intriguing, and gets into more science-fiction cyberpunk elements. Profound questions on the nature of experience and reality arise. Re: worldfromyoursofa.com (Not a real site, yet.)
And, inevitably, as we all know, the uses of the latest digital technology tend to immediately be co-opted by humanity’s baser sexual instincts. As even the most proper old lady users end up paying an online service to see the world through another’s eyes, it quickly escalates to something explicit. And what of those providing the online services, how do they process what they have done?
There are many surprises as the story goes on, and you’ll have to read for yourself to understand the rest. It’s always charming, always makes you think, this double love story. “Marlene and Sofia” is a unique novel unlike anything else out there.