G. McGovern-Bowen’s Evil Seed
is an ambitious tale (506 pages)
of the battle of the forces of Good and Evil, played out against
a backdrop of international intrigue, romance, and adventure. There
are as many shoot-outs, betrayals, high-speed chases, and cliffhangers
as you’ll find in any Clive Cussler novel. This story has
everything: ancient artifacts, angelic aliens, the living earth
GAIA, international villains, and the Anti-Christ/Devil/Evil One.
Even the philosophical and spiritual contexts put forth in the
book about humankind’s origins and our ever-continuing falls
from the ascendency of civilization are intriguing.
The characters, for the most part, are likeable, especially Carlin Thorton-Kramer,
the main character, and her outrageous female friend, Boadicea. Carlin’s
love interest, Dr. Rama Singh, bears the rubber stamp of any romantic lead: He’s
exotic, sexy, and has sterling integrity. The sexuality between them, however,
often seems contrived and trivial, considering the profound circumstances in
which they find themselves and discover their love for each other.
Though a good story, the book is troublesome. The first indication comes at the
beginning of the book, whose first chapter begins: “A swirling column of
dust danced across a cloudless blue horizon as the blazing midday sun charred
an already desiccated land.” Evil Seed
continues in this vein for five
tightly written chapters.
In contrast, beginning a page-long expositive paragraph, the first two sentences
of the Prologue read: “Gaia lay in a state of abject ruination. Heaving
with the bone weary fatigue of an effete mother of twelve, she surveyed the sweeping
vastness of what remained of her celestial domain.” This tedious exposition
is repeated in large doses throughout the remaining two-thirds of the book. Chapter
6 is static, containing over forty pages of straight exposition that explains
how humans came to live on the earth, what role aliens have in the lives of mankind,
and the nature of the evil the book’s characters will face.
Though the novel displayed instances of great storytelling, there are long passages
of inaction. My first reaction to this unevenness was to wonder if too much story
was trying to be told. Could the story have been divided into two books, leaving
some of the questions to be answered in a latter novel? Could some of the philosophical
and spiritual ideas be streamlined or eliminated to push the story, instead of
explain it? Could the author have plainly benefit from a good editor?
It has been said that many writers
have one story that they tell over and over, writing it in many different ways
or writing parts of it in many different forms.
Stephen King, for example, had an early fascination with vampires and werewolves
and wrote dozens of short stories about them, eventually writing Silver
and Salem’s Lot
. But these horror icons still
popped up as minor characters in many of his other works. New novelists do themselves
a great disservice if they put everything they have in just one piece.
I look forward to what Ms. McGovern-Bowen tackles next.