Saturday, February 24, 2018

Camosun alumnus Jeff Mason’s new book shows great promise

September 2, 2015 by Sarah Tayler, contributing writer

Camosun alumnus Jeff Mason’s first novel, The Symmetry of Belief (self-published), is heavily influenced by classic sci-fi, fantasy, and horror by authors such as H.P. Lovecraft, Frank Herbert, and J.G. Ballard. The story is reminiscent of Milton’s “Paradise Lost,” in which humans willingly fall from heaven, or, rather, ascend from paradise into the cruel void of space to find vengeance and freedom.

Themes are layered on top of each other, and Mason tackles the relationship between religion, politics, and power; the believed potential of humans to abuse and surpass their environment despite our self-destructive progress; the chaotic nature of life and death;  the universe.

Mason especially highlights the metaphorical destruction of the environment today through the consequences of war on the Earth-like planet Lacus.

Now, you may adopt a bit of a love-hate relationship with Mason’s work. The idea of this novel is foreboding and epic, but it’s a little undercooked. The first impression it gives is that it’s not quite the final draft, and it’s in need of editing to fix common errors in the spelling and grammar. The flow of the story is jarring, which inhibits the complex timeline. It may turn some readers away due to the difficulty of immersion.

However, Mason’s characters are forces that, once you’re in, you just cannot turn your eyes from. Just as the plot picks up momentum, some heroes experience shocking moral U-turns. Humanity’s only hopes of survival lie in destructive powers or lost artifacts of power belonging to a religion that the people have long since lost faith in.

Even knowing that the fate hounding them will not allow them to stop, you wonder how far they will go, or how much they will sacrifice, to achieve their aims inside an indifferent universe.

The book may not be easy to get into, and it may be a little raw, but if Mason had stewed on it a little longer to give it that final coat of polish, The Symmetry of Belief would clearly have been a captivating novel. After you put the book down, you’re left wondering what comes next.

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