Product has been added to the basket

Geoscientist Online

The Message

gdykThe Message follows an extra-terrestrial inquiry into the sudden appearance of an environmentally destructive species on the planet Retha nature reserve. This planet is Earth and the species in question is humans. No spoilers here, it is written on the back and in the foreword.

The book takes the form of official transcripts from the inquiry, journal entries, and private correspondence. The author has gone for authenticity in these: they genuinely feel like reading through unedited transcripts. Having read an interview with the author, he intended this to be a difficult read. There is endless repetition, the various characters blur into one with little development to the point that the whole book feels like one person reading a script.

Despite how short this book is, there is a definite feeling that the plot is stretched too thin. There are a couple of interesting twists, although these are by no means surprising.

The main source of information that the extra-terrestrials use to investigate the Earth (sorry, ‘Retha’!) is the internet. From this, and direct observation, they discover the extent of the environmental damage that humans are causing. The main theme is the accountability of humans for the destruction of ecosystems in the rainforests and oceans. The science part is a little ropy in places, with one character stating that carbon dioxide is not as serious as humans perceive. Overpopulation is repeatedly discussed with one-child policies and licences to procreate upheld as the ultimate, one-stop solution.

I am sure that most would agree with The Message that not enough is being done to stem the problems that humans have wrought on Retha, but the writing style is borderline ranty and would likely put a lot of people off. There is a craving throughout for further character development. How wonderfully strange an intergalactic panel of experts from all manner of different planets could be!

Overall this book has potential and could be engaging for a younger audience as an introduction to some of the environmental problems the world is currently facing. Clearly something needs to be done sooner rather than later.

The concept behind this book is admirable and the author clearly has some interesting ideas that are worth exploring further: I for one would be interested to know what extra-terrestrials studying the internet would actually think. With some encouragement and refinement of style the next book could have potential.

Reviewed by Jonathan Scafidi

THE MESSAGE by YAN VANA, 2016, Published by: Falcondale Press 198pp (pbk) ISBN: 978-1527204966 List Price: £9.95 W: