Journey to the Core of Creation: A Romance of Evolution by Brian Stableford
Published by Wildside Press, 2011
Another Auguste Dupin story, this time set in 1847, when great change is anticipated by everyone and feared by many.
The first few chapters introduce some revelations. We learn the narrator’s name at last, and he learns the real name of the Comte de Saint Germain. The arrival of a mysterious lady visitor uncovers some intriguing details of Dupin’s past.
All the main characters are familiar with theories of evolution and geology that were still new and controversial in the mid-nineteenth century. The feeling of uncertainty and instability combined with excitement that results from this is very convincing.
Dupin and the narrator must travel to Mont Dragon, named after a mythical sleeping dragon. This mountain is of special interest to Dupin’s old friend Guérande, who is conducting archaeological research, but also – for a variety of reasons – to a bishop, a community of nomadic travellers, and the Prefect of the Parisian Police.
Mount Dragon is due to behave in some spectacular way involving something described in local myth as a flameflower. What eventually occurs is not exactly what anyone expects. Nevertheless, the flameflower’s song cannot ever be quite forgotten, even by listeners whose understanding is limited. The earth’s core turns out to be as enchanting, marvellous, alien and unexplored as the stars beyond our reach. And the appropriate response is simply to listen.
Review by Sally Startup