Appleseed ~ by Matt Bell

This is a very interesting book – terrific actually,  I think. But I might have to read it again to know for sure.   I’d seen it reviewed somewhere and it was on my Wist List for awhile, and then along came a Daily Special.  Got it! 

 by Matt Bell 2021 (474 pages)
Read by Mark Bramhall 15h 44m Rating: 9-A+ /literary sci-fi-fantasy 

It’s another mosaic-like tripartite (triptych?) ala Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell and Cloud Cuckoo Land byAnthony Doerr. And again it’s confusing at first but I was following better than I thought because at about 1/2 way it all fell into place – and then more was added.  That said, I might have to read it again although the narrator’s voice was irritating.  

 Alert – This is a sci-fi fantasy book with some overtones of Greek mythology. The sci-fi part is climate dystopian and the Greek tones include a faun or two, some god-like traits in another character, and some names.

Prologue – a hoofed beast and his stepbrother are gathering seeds near a cider mill. He is seeking a particular seed apparently only available once every ten years.  

Part I Chapman – (about 1800)The eponymous Johnny Appleseed, known here as Chapman, is just barely starting out with his ideas and takes off  with his brother Nathanial out of Pennsylvania to build nurseries and plant apple trees in the frontier. 

He is with his step-brother Nathanial trekking and scouting the new frontier which, in the late 18th and very early 19th centuries American poachers, aka”pioneers,” made theirs for the taking. Chapman has a man’s body and hairy legs with cloven hooves like a faun and he wants to find the perfect apple so that he might gain the seeds for more. Nathanial wants to make his fortune in land sales.   

 John –  (in the not-too-distant future) humans are trying to remake the world to avoid an ultimate full calamity. John is west of the Mississippi which is hot and dusty and full of desserts and caves with chambers. He looks at the ancient drawings of the vanished earth which are painted on the remaining walls. It’s a world now gone. John wants to LIVE WITH plants and animals not just observe them from above.

 After the last catastrophic earthquake,  a corporation called Earth Trust got emergency funding and seized all lands west of the Mississippi to create the Western Sacrifice Zone.  Oregon and Washington seceded from the US.

 At the time of the take-over John was with the fierce Eury and they vowed to push back at this horror.  Cal is ready for violence but John wants to atone to the earth.  

He’s at a burned-out Yellowstone, watching a wolf NOT eating the bison corpses. Heavy lifter cargo drones fly overhead.  It’s 100º and he’s angry and will plant a bomb to blow a hole in a dam or the anti-erosion embankments or use chains or something.  On this side of the continent there are gutted cities of empty concrete. No one is there.  

His efforts are futile but he trying to help by “re-wilding” the west – making it available for new growth.  He’s finishing what Cal started; getting rid of the old fossil fuel based economy. This is NOT recycling or re-purposing or re-engineering. Rather, it’s letting the water flow where it will, the erosion happen, the minerals stay where they are.

 John is destroying the rubble in the West.  He sees a graffiti marked gas station and knows that Cal has been here not so long ago and knows that Cal he wants John to come back to her.  He finds more arrows, more destruction, more blazes.  He’s close now.  He finds Cal who pauses her work – she’s wild and violent-looking and calls him Goat.  

C434 – called “C” – (maybe 3021) And in this time frame it’s too late C moves his craft out of the crevice in the ice.  Heavy white sky is all he remembers – only on this high glacial shelf.  This is all automatic with bubbles and sensors. He goes beneath the ice looking for seeds. He’s been successful but he’s old now and has gone through many cycles. His skin is renewed with polymer and other materials. He has blue fur, which doesn’t quite protect him from the cold, and plastinate claws. 

He gets ready to descend – he has hooves for climbing down walls. He descends into the dark, blind, and finally lands at bottom of the chamber. There’s a sound, but this is unknown territory. It seems like it was the end of a world and he has many fears. with one predominating. If the tunnel he is following becomes tunnels (plural) he will get lost.  That will be the end of his world and he’ll be below.

 He must never die anywhere but in the crawler.  The tunnel slants down and away so there must be an obstruction, but he “sees only dark empty.  He finds bio-mass.  Black roots some thick – clutching rocks and dirt and more of a stump.  More buried wood. He wants to bring it back.  Dangerous because ice might break.  Greed gets him trying to move more. He wraps pieces of old trees into tarp – starts to ascend and gets there but disasters as tarp comes loose and everything falls 

And so it goes – alternating between these three scenarios as the plot in each progresses. What has happened, is happening, you don’t know until the end.

Eury, a very strong female, in charge of Earth Trust which involves remaking the world in lots of ways from food to land development and air to soil manufacturing plus skin composition and maybe body transplants.  John is not sold on this idea.

The main twist that affects everything is that Appleseed is a faun, which makes me think funny things like that he’s spreading his seed because everyone from him on is looking forward, into the future.  But if that’s too terrible by the time we get a few years out perhaps it should all be destroyed,  Earth Trust and all.  

And the voice of the narrator drones on, seeming to lament something,  And I think this might need a reread in spite of the narrator

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1 Response to Appleseed ~ by Matt Bell

  1. Pingback: Bewilderment by Richard Powers x2 | Becky's Books –

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