“Forget what you know about a storyline that has a starting point, something interesting after that and finally an epilogue.
[This book is] a mind game, an adventure to perception . . . Once you are certain of something, I will take that “something” away.
Remember. It’s a game and you are playing along with the characters.”
The opening to the “Prologue” to Janus Quadrifrons is a good set-up for the kaleidoscopic roller-coaster ride to follow. You might suspect, after reading that opening, trying to draft a synopsis of the trip to come would be near impossible and also rather unfair to new readers.
It doesn’t take many pages to realize that “Janus,” the narrator of the yarn, is never sure what is reality and what isn’t. Does he or she really have the power to get into other people’s minds and look through their eyes? Is she insane, her, or his, mental faculties distorted by brain cancer? Or is he the subject of mind-altering experiments using drugs and strange devices? Are the people Janus interacts with really there or pieces of his/her imagination, are they living or dead? Are their identities being manipulated in some unknown way? Is time being bent or reversed with blackouts robbing Janus of his memories? What is truth, is there such a thing, and what is illusion? Who are the hunters, who are the killers, and who is killed and who is hunted and why? How many times can one person die and return?
Author Spark D' Ark is all about posing questions with questionable answers and posing riddles with illusory solutions page after page. As her surreal stew comes to a boil, Spark stirs in the Prometheus virus which connects with mega-genes that open the memories of ancestors in the genetic code and clones pregnant with clones and the protagonists apparently trapped in time loops that return them to events decades ago when everything began. Or is it all a recurring dream?
The author dedicates her book to readers who don’t finish the book, apparently anticipating a readership who opt not to keep up with the game. I can sympathize with such an audience. Janus Quadrifrons isn’t going to be everyone’s cup of tea as it isn’t designed to meet most literary expectations, just as Spark signaled in her “Prologue.” On the other hand, other readers are likely to enjoy the psychological journey, especially those accustomed to the tricks of post-modern literature. In particular, no one should feel cheated by the “variant” endings in the payoffs in the final two chapters. Of course, there’s no shortage of sci fi yarns featuring characters dealing with shifting identities or manipulated consciousnesses.
For the record, Janus Quadrifrons seems crafted to be a stand-alone story, not the launch of a new series. As it happens, English is not the author’s first language—Greek is. Some of the character names have Greek roots and are used as archetypes for their symbolism. However, there are very few indications this book was written by someone using English as a second language. It’s not a long book, so come on in, bring no preconceptions with you, and go where no one has traveled before.