Close your eyes. Pay attention. Listen. Listen to the language.
From the opening line, “Her lover was a supernova,” you know that Paul Jessup’s novel is different from every other. It still won’t prepare you for the thought virus that follows.
A naked woman, Egia, reeling from the ecstasy of her lover exploding in a supernova, is found floating nearly lifeless in a spaceship and salvaged by diverse crew. A half-human cyborg in love with an angry giant, a playboy with the mind of a pin-up model stuck inside his head, and the heart of the ship, a sentient AI that has its own agenda. When Egia arrives, she arouses jealousy and changes the dynamics of the crew with deadly consequences.
And Jessup is just getting started. The ship is attacked by another ship, and an alien virus transmitted through language begins to infect the crew. What follows is trippy, bizarre, beautiful and terrifying. As the interstices between characters begin to overlap and crumble, falling away as reality shifts, the reader can’t be sure if the characters are stuck in an apocryphal, looping AI simulation, each restart of the program darker than the last, until the characters are stripped down and laid bare by forces that seem to be incomprehensible, yet personified. Without motive, yet full of malice, in search of what they deem beautiful, their very glowing essence harvested.
It’s nowhere near that straightforward though. Jessup pushes the limits of what language in a novel can do, mixing poetic fragments and shifting perspectives. If most authors view time through an hourglass, Jessup melts the sand inside, turns it into glass and spins it like an expert gaffer, adding beautiful colors and streaks of meaning, then smashes it and collects the pieces to create something you never would expect.
To read Close Your Eyes is to experience the magic of standing next to a furnace as a smith works, eyes and ears awakened to new sounds and techniques as each strike of the hammer forces you to blink.
Keep your eyes open though. You won’t want to miss what happens next.
Editor’s Note: Paul Jessup is a contributing author to Vernacular Books’ first anthology, The Way of the Laser: Future Crime Stories. Head on over to our Kickstarter Campaign to pre-order, then join us for our LIVE EVENT for a chance to win on of up to 20 signed books, trivia and more.
Categories: Book Reviews