Old Green World: A Novel, by Walter Basho
Publisher: Craft Fiction (May 19, 2015)
Page Count: 224 pages
Genre: Gay (M/M) Sci-fi/Fantasy (Romance)
Rating: 3 out of 5
Summary: The apocalypse happened 4000 years ago; now, a wild forest covers the world. Albert Todorov lives on an island, in the shadow of the forest. He loves Thomas Newton, a boy he can never marry. A new island civilization is blossoming, led by strange monks called the Adepts–who have power over matter and the mind–and their holy figures, the mysterious Old People. They plan to storm the forest, to tame it for civilization.
My Thoughts: The summary made me believe this would be a romance, but I would say the romance was secondary to the philosophy. This was not my usual read, but it was still lyrical and full of gorgeous imagery. And the basic thread of romance, of understanding what love truly means, winds its way through the entire plot.
I’m reminded of Clarke’s Third Law: Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic. This was a novel where magic and science blended seamlessly together. It was at once a post-apocalyptic sci-fi novel, and a magical fantasy novel. At its center was Albert, a boy on the verge of becoming a man, who is sent to fight a war that he does not understand.
There are a few basic themes at the heart of this novel. Order vs chaos, capitalism vs. anarchy, and civilization vs the forest. Albert balances the line between all of these things. He grows up on the very edge of the forest, and spends his time equally between the civilized town and the hunting grounds of the trees. He loves Thomas, but Thomas is a creature solely of civilization, so Albert is not able to be with him.
Eventually, Albert picks a side (so to speak), and becomes the forest itself. He is no longer Albert, but is instead “what Albert has become”, a bridge between order and chaos. And I think that once he’s able to become this chaos, he’s able to finally balance out Thomas’ civilization and understand what love truly is.
This novel was really lovely, but I think a bit too deep for me. I struggled to comprehend some of the plot, especially the purpose of the Old People. I loved the idea of a future long after the world as we know it has ended, where magic has taken over the earth. But the book just didn’t feel magical to me.