“It is the life and true form of our world. To it, we are but shifting shadows and micro-animals. The playthings of a god. Our souls, a simple nectar to ease its eternal torment.”
The Arden. A psycho-philosophical expedition into a theoretical future where a forest of man’s making self-adjusts to be the unmaking of man. Or perhaps to try and form a symbiosis that man once had with the world, strayed from, and now returns to under the forest’s guidance? Whether the Arden’s intent is sinister or serendipitous, the story in which this psychedelic sylvan demi-deity serves as both the central biome and critical conflict is rife with the alchemical metaphor of man, nature, God, and the role all three play as each, other, and one.
Written through the eyes of three down-out-and dirty friends—a tech-head, an artist, and an adventurer—we see the issues of our own modernity—corporatism, environmentalism, techno-takeover—through a focused and character driven lens. They navigate a science-fantasy world that’s at once familiar to what we expect from the genre and slightly divergent in respect to the little details surreptitiously sewn throughout the world-building.
Shifting from the initial dystopian future of corporate climate disasters into the post-post-apocalyptic (yea, that’s its own thing, and its wonderful) world of sentient forest and amnesiac humanity that comes after is an Alice-esque juxtaposition of settings, where the questions raised by one are answered by the existence of the other. The three leading characters leap between timelines with all the proper uncertainty of young minds thrust into new life-defining situations. The motifs of individual discovery and social responsibility run deep in the sap of the Arden—both the story and the woodland itself.
Hallucinogenic descriptions. Creative social-norm variations. Identifiable and authentic characters. The Arden is a book with few flaws. No story is perfect, but the Arden tells its story perfectly.