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Celeste h/c


Celeste h/c Celeste h/c Celeste h/c

Celeste h/c back

I.N.J. Culbard

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Page 45 Review by Jonathan

"We're not supposed to be alone. That's why we see faces in things. It's nature making sure we seek each other out."

I'll return to that line...

Ah, I do like Ian's intro sequences and this is his most expansive yet, featuring us approaching first the Milky Way, then our solar system, passing by the various planets and asteroid belt between Jupiter and Mars before eventually arriving, via a sumptuous satellite-graced double-page spread, on Earth. Upon reaching the surface of our planet we find what appears to be a pink blossom petal, drifting serenely past Mount Fuji, before settling at the foot of a Japanese man sat at the open window of his bedroom. Then we see a second petal on a bedside table by a ringing phone, its owner in the shower. The fact the petal then migrates to the floor is the first hint something strange is going on, though perhaps the now-whirring hairdryer was responsible for that. Perhaps. Then finally we see a man asleep in his car in the desert, a blossom petal drifting in through his open window and into his slightly agape mouth, causing a near choking fit that reminded me of a very scary childhood incident I once had with a moth...

Having revisited this opening sequence a fair few times, purely to marvel at it, I've found myself wondering what the appropriate accompanying music score would be, were this the opening scene of a film. Something slow and mysterious I think, though in retrospect arguably Planet Earth by Duran Duran would be very appropriate... "Look now, look all around, there's no sign of life, voices, another sound, can you hear me now?" ... because shortly thereafter virtually the entire population of the Earth just vanishes. I presume this may be where the title of the book comes from, an allusion to the not-so-jolly ship Marie Celeste.

As to the how and the why, well, don't expect the explanation to be made clear for you. There are some possible interpretations that spring to mind, but I am very sure Ian intended this to be a thought-provoking piece of speculative fiction. What we have are three very mysterious and very different stories. None of our three characters is completely alone, mind you, which I will leave you to reflect upon, and I am choosing my words carefully there.

There are several lines of dialogue which seem particularly weighted with hidden meaning for the observant reader to pick up upon, such as the quote above. Taken in the context of what is happening, it provides some very subtle hints as to what may really be going on. But it's not until the final page almost, when those petal blossoms return, that provide the biggest clue. That particular closing sequence put me in mind of a little sequence in the film version of 2010 actually, which is something I must quiz Ian about. Intrigued? Curious? Perturbed? Good, then my work here is done, much like the petal blossoms...

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