01/11/2010. Contributed by Pauline Morgan
pub: Immanion Press, 2008. 280 page enlarged paperback. Price: $21.99 (US), GBP 12.99 (UK). ISBN: 978-1-904853-56-5.
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When a book is turned down by a mainstream publisher, there may be many reasons. The most likely is that it is of an unpublishable standard. There are other reasons as well – finance department won’t take the risk is a common one. They may consider it uncommercial, the author didn’t sell enough last time, there is not enough money, the trend for that type of book is over, if it’s not the next big thing or they just don’t understand it. ‘When a Tree Falls’ is probably an example of this last category.
Imagine a world where if something is not observed, it does not happen. If there is no-one present to see the tree that falls in the forest, it does not fall. Watchers, however, do not have to be human. A Watcher can be a cockroach or a mouse. It’s like a celestial CCTV that is universal. The Watchers are given their instructions by the Prime Watcher who gets them direct from Jeff. That is what God calls himself. After all, would you believe in a god called Nigel? Jeff, however, is semi-retired. He has handed over most of the running of the universe to the devil and his minions.
Andrew is a computer programmer who lives in Bulgaria in a flat filled with empty pizza boxes. His mother died when he was young by a falling tree and his father re-married producing a sister for Andrew who got all the attention. He moved to Bulgaria almost at random when his marriage failed. He is quietly hiding from life. Out in the real world, someone starts to kill Watchers. The only person who might be able to find the killer and stop them is Andrew. This is because Andrew’s mother was a Watcher, making him a Nephilim. The story that humanity believes is that the Nephilim were evil and wiped out by the Angels a long time ago. The Watchers think they were confined to a particular period where they are forbidden to go (yes, they can time travel). Andrew, accompanied by Tigger, the Guardian Angel of computers (he usually manages to blow them up) and Elvis, a trainee Watcher (named after the real one) has to go through a series of ordeals to find the answer he is seeking.
The problem I had with this novel is that it is very reminiscent of student days, when after a few drinks the conversation turned to the improbable and merely fanciful. What seemed either profound at the time, or hilarious, never seemed quite the same in the sober light of day. Although some of the ideas here are witty, it is not the kind of humour that appeals to me. However, there are probably many to whom it does.
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Stephen Hunt's novels - USA