A Novel Chart of the Way of the World from the Lush Paradise to the Barren Hell Landscape


The magic that Chapman embodies is followed by the malevolent wonders of technology in the novel’s second main title. Here we follow John, a brilliant inventor who turns into a regrettable eco-riot as he seeks to atone for his role in creating a planet-wide mega-interest in Ohio-based known as Earthtrust. Earthtrust, founded by John’s childhood best friend to help combat the ravages of over-farming and climate change, has become an explicit part of the problem. In the third chapter of the book we get a clear idea of ​​where everything is going. In this grim vision of the future, a lonely, haunted entity known first as C-432 and then C-433 searches the frozen continent for pockets of biomaterial to bring back the derelict metal heap he calls home.

The two Cs in this third series share not only one letter but also hooves and horns with Chapman from the first – a sign of the connections Bell has made around his novel. The perfect apple one character seeks is linked to examples of bioengineering that are not perfectly inedible that another character encounters, which in turn are linked to the fruits of an extraordinary future tree emerging from a rather unexpected soil. Elsewhere, flowers, chicks, and rabbits in the landing pages reappear in the cloned empty eyes of future animals, and they find their echoes far in the future in creatures made up of flocks of tiny flying robots.

Bell wisely resists overdoing it with unifying and structural arrogance, and thus, with its three-piece design of tightly woven threads, prevents “Appleseed” from turning into a giant jigsaw puzzle of David Mitchell’s “Cloud Atlas” that can only be accomplished once it is completed. overpowered its emotional content. Bell isn’t out to score points for making stylish formal moves in this formally ambitious yet highly humane way. An attractive seriousness supported by deeply felt optimism nourishes the “Apple Seed”. That is, unless we are inside the literary equivalent of a Rubik’s Cube in its pages, or if we don’t have a brutally savage post-apocalyptic hellscape like Cormac McCarthy’s “The Path.” The direct influences in “Apple Seed” received by a sense, as well as literature from high-concept film, television, and video games, lie elsewhere. Bell has metabolized the inspiration knots well enough, and while they give an interesting texture (a touch of “Westworld” here, a touch of “Black Mirror” and “Oryx and Crake” there), they never overwhelm. This is as it should be. Pushing the entire world to the edge of the abyss and trying to envision a way in which it can retreat in a meaningful way rather than cheaply is an order too tall to be played against a backdrop of nods and winks: Bell has a radical organic reboot. The entire planet is in his eyes.

Half-measures – such as lukewarm carbon offsets and slightly stricter emissions standards, where we trick ourselves into believing they will somehow solve our problems – will not get the job done there. The attempts to tame, rewild, reseed, and atmosphere-altering the terrain undertaken by Bell’s flawed, fascinating characters are as good as they are going, but ultimately, “Appleseed” suggests that our current ways of being must all be forged very well. Tiny bits – “Pebbles from marble counters, ceramic dishes, stainless steel tools. Gravel from fences and roads, gravel from street lamps and traffic signs. Plastic chair pebbles, plastic plates and plastic children’s toys” – before anything resembling rebirth begins. What turns out to be “Apple Seed” on the other side will hardly look like the one that went in. But it is likely to be beautiful.

The harsh but refreshingly liberating “Appleseed” certainly is. If there are a few minor missteps along the way (like the Disney-David Lynch moment near the end of the novel, where the sinister dwarfs appear), what does the nearly 500-page novel that takes on the fate of a badly injured planet not do? do you have a few? The big picture is that Bell has accomplished something special here. A delightful addition to the growing canon of world-class contemporary climate fiction, “Appleseed” feels timely, forward-looking, and real.


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