|Xen: Ancient English Edition by D. J. Solomon
In his first book, D.J Solomon takes a retrospective look at the early years of the earth’s
development in a daring yet inciting twist of literature composition. He employs the
personification of wind, water, earth and fire in an allegory, which throws light on human
ideology, sexuality, among other human defects, in a persona worth delving into.
His innovative use of every day unexpurgated language stimulates the reader’s mind to
engage in variant breadths of emotions, which relays the translation of Xen from the
future in a genuine anthropomorphic form.
With regard to the fact that the book is from the future, but particularly available to us
now in a comprehensive translation to read, it gives me the notion to ascertain that,
there is relevant knowledge we can uncover about ourselves from the future in Xen;
which at least, if not enable us attain a state of utopia, the relevance and applicability of
the knowledge we discern from Xen, can help us pick up the pace of our development.
What inspires me the most, about D.J. Solomon’s art of translating Xen, is how the book
engages the reader in serious thoughts, thus presenting the mere novel as being
metaphorically encrypted with bits of relevant information waiting to be uncovered.
After reading the first few chapters of the book, you tend to view Pawkey Seneschal as a
miserable married misanthropist with incorrigible morals and profane sexist thoughts
tainted with racism (all though he suggests not). However, upon putting the book down
and pondering over what you just read, it doesn’t take you long to realize that, you
inwardly poses some of the characters Pawkey Seneschal seeks to purge from the
Earth. Then suddenly your view of the unethical scientist subsides, as you ironically
realize that although Pawkey Seneschal himself is embodied in the characteristics he so
disgusts, regardless he takes the heroic step of trying to expunge such “evil” from the
Akin to the Chaos theory, every chapter of “Xen” is seemingly perturbed from the initial
focus of the book, but successfully ties down to the beginning points of the book at the
The taxonomy of the chapters itself has more meaning than merely pointing out the main
characters within. Take the chapters “Scientist”, “Mother and Child” and “The Bet” for
Scientist; someone with knowledge about science and partakes in its application to
create, rethink or redesign old things/thinking, by utilizing and building upon current
Mother and child: The mother vitally relates to the unconditional care given ones own.
The child is a symbol of succeeding generations to come.
Amalgamate the above pieces of definition, and applying it to humanity after a reread,
you will find out that Xen is telling us something more than its apparent inscription in its
Like a mother and her “treasure” (child) we (humans) must essentially take
unconditional care of our most vital natural resource; The Earth, its flora and fauna if we
are concerned about the future and safety of our children and their children’s children.
And thus like scientist we must rethink and reinvent ourselves, and apply our knowledge
to stop our Dependency on Fossil fuel/ Crude Oil, etc (Fire), our pollution of air (wind),
and our contamination of water. We must not let wind win the bet.
The Bet: The bet between Wind and Water, about whether man’s knowledge and
extensive use of fire will lead them to their destruction of Earth, in my perspective is
epitomic of the status quo of our environment today. Why a bet? A bet involves a stake
on something usually important, which has equally varied possibilities of an outcome, to
produce results which are available within a time span. It also requires someone to loose
or win, there is no Win-win.
The Earth is essential for human survival, and we have as much power to either make
up for destructive efforts or to ignore our environment and perish in it. There is no two
ways about it, we ought to do something about our environment or become extinct
remnants of the past like our Jurassic-era counterparts.
Thus in our avaricious bid to industrialize (under the pretext of development), our ability
to “produce fire”, essentially with fossil fuel/crude-oil, is slowly depleting the earth.
Thus akin to Wind’s concern that mankind will destroy the Earth, since he has already
learned to make, if not control Fire, we may ironically be doomed by the ignorance of
our own knowledge, if nothing is done to find and utilize alternative energy sources, to
fuel our economies.
We must pro-actively rise to the challenge of ensuring that we prove Wind wrong or
hope that water in the future causes neurotransmission in our brains to come with a
brilliant idea (similar to Pawkey Seneschal’s eugenics program).
I believe it’s more than shear luck or just for allegory sake, that Solomon paradoxically
personifies the natural elements as characters involved in today’s environmental
problem and plays a vital role in the alternative solution.
We as humans pollute our environment with waste materials which cause us grave harm
to ourselves and other species with which we share Earth with. Our inability to control
our avaricious need for what Pawkey Seneschal refers as little pieces of paper (money)
propel us to aerate the air (Wind) with poisonous chemical, infamously from our use of
crude oil. We deforrestate the Earth with our “industrious “ambitions to build, and we
leave our Water’s contaminated with our waste.
With respect to the pertinent solution that the Earth, wind and water holds for the
prominent problem of environmental sustainability, it involves an expanded harnessing
of the following technologies:
Wind--is utilized by wind mills to propel turbines which in turn produce electricity.
Water; the gravitational force of flowing or falling water is similarly deployed to propel
turbines by hydroelectric dams to produce energy.
Earth--hot water reservoirs inside the earth’s core is pumped out, to produce steam,
and utilized in powering turbines for electricity.
Sun--solar panels utilizes heat generated from the sun’s solar radiation for electricity.
All the above are alternative solutions to electro-mechanical generators driven by steam
produced from fossil fuel, or the heat released from nuclear reactions, which requires no
external source of fuel (eg. fossil fuel) to ensure its operation, and has no emissions
which produce any harmful effect to the environment. Wind speculates that, they would
destroy humanity. No wonder, “Xen" describes the three in a Union against fire.
The author succeeds in creating a literally thought provoking book, with an abundant
wealth of resource which deals with many other issues. All we ought to do is read in
between the lines, to elicit knowledge it seeks to give.
Like Pawkey Seneschal, if not similar, we all contribute and posses the characteristics
which evidently plague our environment with destruction and pollution, but also like
Pawkey Seneschal we all individually posses the power of self will to conserve and
protect what is around us (our environment).
Conclusively, if we don’t allude to the warnings of Xen, Wind will win the bet and the fate
of the human race, would be left in the destructive hands of Fire.
Archer, Cristina (2007). "Evaluation of Global Wind Power". Stanford Press.
Bolton, James (1977). Solar Power and Fuels. Academic Press, Inc.
Yergin, Daniel (1991). The Prize: The Epic Quest for Oil, Money, and Power. Simon &
Perlin, John (1999). From Space to Earth. Harvard University Press
An in-depth look at The Bet: a Paradigm shift for world energy
College of Idaho
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