Chico novelist Blair Palmerlee has a penchant for creating alternate worlds with subtle, and not so subtle, connections with our own. "The Universe of Malcolm" begins in Chico but opens up a sci-fi universe in a human hand. Now, with "The Plotseer" (in paperback from CreateSpace; for pricing and availability, contact the author at facebook.com/ThePlotseer or at blairpalmerlee.wix.com/index), he ably realizes an entire civilization.
Palmerlee will be signing copies of his books Wednesday at 7:00 p.m. at Lyon Books in downtown Chico.
Before publishing, the prolific twenty-something writer mounted a Kickstarter.com campaign to raise funds for editorial work. He created a video book trailer, gained 27 backers and exceeded his goal of a thousand dollars. The finished novel reads smoothly and carries the reader into a quasi-medieval fantasy world. Here the people of Cambrian are governed by a heavy-handed church speaking for the Author.
Everyone is part of the Author's story, though only the exalted Plotseer knows the Author's intentions, communicated in an ancient document. The Plotseer's companion is The Teller, "the highest and most holy voice in the Church. ... This man knew so much of the Author's will, his word was almost infallible."
Or was it? The story focuses on young Byron Tanner and the mysterious girl Lucy Prior, and when a new Plotseer is discovered, the church is threatened and Byron finds himself under suspicion, part of a story bigger than his journey from his home town of Chastegate to Redkeep's ecclesiastical headquarters. He and Lucy must contend with the vyce, "the children of evil," at least according to Doctor Ellis in Patriarchal Studies. "They attack innocent people on the open roads, burn churches, and kill our faithful protectors. ... Very commonly, they will be attracted to partners of the same sex. They know nothing of love."
Then there's the Author's Creed, "the written meaning of life," locked in Redkeep. "This single document was the cornerstone of all faith in Cambrian." But what did it actually say? And are the vyce really the enemy? The Hierarchy is intent on preserving its power and economic oppression at all costs, but as lives hang in the balance Byron discovers who the story is actually about--and the Creed's true meaning. It's worth pondering in the real world.