The newest addition to my indie book club is J.C. Gemmell’s book, The Visionary. This is a story that goes along with the author’s Tion series and had a lot of things to unpack.
For a book with so few pages, it definitely had a lot to say! In fact, I thought this book could do a little better with being longer as there was so much happening.
The story follows a woman named Shi Xin-yi who finds herself separated from part of her family after a tsunami hits her city in China. The book is set in a post-apocalyptic world where the melting of the glaciers in Antarctica leads to the awakening of a long, frozen dragon. This dragon then continues to thaw the ice caps leading to rising sea levels that take over coastal cities, driving the people inland, and in turn, causing more catastrophic events which lead to humans having to find another way to survive.
Xin-yi is chosen to become a part of this new society where she’s trained to work as a visionary. This is where the story becomes a little muddled because I don’t think it gives enough detail to fully explain what visionaries do. In fact, there’s a section in the story that says if you come to understand how visionaries work, then you’re no longer one – which to me seemed like a way of saying that no one was supposed to understand how they work in the first place.
From what I gathered, visionaries would dream up solutions of how to solve problems affecting the world like the sea levels and then people known as engineers would come in and build those visions. Each visionary received a mark which set them apart from others as this mark was like an internal sidekick that mimicked their subconscious to help them problem solve.
This story had a very complex plot that I don’t think fully delivered with each task presented. Some of the solutions dreamed up by these visionaries seemed scientifically impossible to me such as having straws draw up the contents of the ocean via suction into space – but even this couldn’t be accomplished without first destroying the moon to create the suction. That seemed a little of a stretch, in my opinion.
I rolled along with it though and thoroughly enjoyed the second half of the book where Xin-yi worked on a program that redesigned the consciousness of a living person into a computer program so that they could have their own version of Heaven, living out their days as an algorithm if they wanted while still being useful to the world by retaining their knowledge. That was pretty cool and gave me Matrix vibes.
However, this part was short and I, honestly, felt like this book could’ve been 300+ pages on this concept alone. I understand there are more stories about Tion from this author, so I may check those out to see what else there is to learn about this new society. The book hit on so many different, and some would say, controversial topics, like politics, segregation, spirituality, government influence, etc.
The only thing I would say about this story was that there was a lot going on, but we didn’t get to see a lot of the moving parts. Chapters were sometimes spaced over the course of years and in between that time we were only given a brief taste of the progress society had made. I didn’t feel very connected to any particular characters because they were brief besides for Xin-yi. But even then, she seemed emotionally detached from everything around her.
Overall, I thought the concept was cool, but it was a little hard for me to understand. I’m not as adept with science fiction stories, so it may be due to my own ignorance towards this genre.
I don’t read a lot of science fiction, but I thought this one was interesting. Check it out for yourself and if you do, don’t forget to leave the author a review! Happy reading!