Entopia

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    Book Synopsis

    Mystery. Danger. Adventure. Faith. It’s all here! A multi-layered tale in the allegorical tradition of George Orwell’s Animal Farm and CS Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia. A legend is told of a pale white ant, who will end the curse and bring a new order to Entgora. Gazer is an ordinary worker ant living in the ancient ant colony of Entgora. It’s a world of strict hierarchy and order and of harsh punishment. Yet Gazer is also a dreamer and always has been. After a mishap during a routine work expedition sends her plummeting to the ground-snapping off one of her antennae-Gazer stumbles across the sacred but secret mating ritual of a future Queen ant. The night before her trial for this blasphemy and crime, she has a dream that changes the course of her life and the lives of all antkind from that day on. Along with her friends Tenspeed and Digdirt, Gazer finds herself locked in a whirlwind of political and mystical intrigues, epic wars and civil revolts, gender and class struggles, and dreams and secret societies …

    >Buy this book at Amazon.ca or at Amazon.com

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    I will review this book.

    #306

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    Book Review

    Entopia is ripe for bookclub discussion. After a traumatic accident, Gazer our heroine ant loses her way during her food gather routine and discovers the royal, luxurious chambers of a princess ant. Hiding in the shadows, Gazer learns that the princess ant will fly off with fertilized eggs to start a new colony. Part of royalty, the princess ant benefits from the masses engaged in anthill routine with plenty of rent and mountainous food on which to gorge. Ignorance breeds complacency. This unveiling of how royalty lives moves Gazer out of ignorance and into trouble.

    Rad Zdero’s dialogues waft Shakespearean. I found the lyrical cadences refreshing to my eye and brain.

    “Although she was unafraid to die by being inhaled by an Outside Beast, her grandest hope, rather, was to meet her end in the same heroic manner as did one of the first ants of ancient times not forgotten. And so, the mythical tale of a large multitude of ants died for a new colony to be borne. Based on this old tale of sacrifice, the ant colony was built on sacrifice for the communal good. Individuality matter not. Everything was on a need to know basis, one’s duties for the day. The ants lived without hope, unaware of hope’s existence, filled with ignorance and blocked by secrecy.”

    Is Gazer a believable character? Not many personal glimpses, although her network of friendships sustains hers. She is a worker, committed to her duties. With new knowledge, Gazer dreams and questions her society. Zdero uses mostly female ants to people his story. The primary characters could have been easily portrayed as male ants. Zdero’s quality as a writer shines with his character development when he refrains from female and male stereotypes.

    The coming of the “Pale White Ant” was used to move the plot. I didn’t understand the Pale White Ant which was later dropped in the story. Perhaps that disappearance confused me. It is supposed to be the spirit and the god of the ants. Similar to the religious icons in our world, God, Jesus, and Allah are never explained but developed from faith and stories. Our gods, as the Pale White Ant, must be taken on faith. Through outspoken prayer the Queen shows how the proclaimed religious beliefs guide the ants lives.

    War helped to move plot. The ants’ wars occur not because of religious beliefs but because of material goods and slave potential. In the first war, blue grey horde of ants pilfers, kills and captures ants, destroying community order. After living and fighting through the second war, Gazer with others leave.

    Entopia uses the slaughter of thousands during war to evolve a society, with a different societal structure. The ants are not motivated until under stress, threat and endangerment. Isn’t that the same with humans? Will we destroy ourselves the larger our cities grow in material abundance? Will we attract attention? Will the “have-nots” uprise against the “haves”?

    Entopia: Revolution of the Ants belongs into the same genre of Animal Farm: A Fairy Story by George Orwell. For bookclubs, I would recommend reading Entopia and Animal Farm for comparative study and discussion. Each book is just over hundred pages. When Animal Farm was published in 1945, Orwell wrote during World War II in the fight between capitalism vs. nazism. With Entopia published in 2008, Zdero would have written during the increasing rift between the free world and third worlds, between the rich and poor, and many worldwide conflicts killing thousands.

    Animal Farm had a society of different animals that revolted against the human to form a new classless society. Orwell’s animals wanted an easier life with more freedom and unity. In Entopia, the ant society artificially created differences in appearances to develop class structures. Revolution of the ants occurred with knowledge that all ants did not take part in food production, nor did all ants share equally. Knowledge breeds discontent until the needs of freedom and equality are met. Knowledge demands equalization. For the ants who evolved into a new ant hill, the new revolutionary keys were information sharing, communal decision making, and communal food production for all.

    Common projects pull people together. In Animal Farm, building the windmill was a value-added project above basic needs. The farm animals did not understand or appreciate this building and then re-building of the windmill. In the new colony of Entopia, all the ants understood and believed in the common purpose of gathering food, working with added benefits of freedom, equality and purpose.

    The chronicles or belief system of the new colony should have been explained sooner. In Entopia, I thought the second war had been fought for survival and for the coming of the Pale, White Ant. But later three words of equality, freedom and unity were bandied about once the new colony was established. The reader never fully comprehends the chronicles until Gazer’s big speech just before the third war. These chronicles should have been pulled into the story sooner.

    Is Zdero’s new society believable? The new colony maintains discipline and order on a committee level, creating more loyalty. Every female ant can become fertile to produce future generations. How does this new ant colony comment on our societal structures of cities? With cities comes more emphasis on material gains and regulation; smaller rural centers focus on deregulation, freedom, and equality.

    Animal Farm was not able to preserve freedom, equality and unity. I believe the reason was that education fell by the wayside. In Entopia, the new society maintained education that in turned sustained the new society, hopefully continuing beyond the end of the novel.

    Another major difference in the two books was the historical context placed on the revolutions. Animal Farm dwelt on the past, instilling fear. Entopia portended to the future by focusing on knowledge as society’s driver. Allegorical books simplify societal structures for exploration on social evolution, without all the human baggage. Can this ant allegorical evolution happen with humans? Not en masse. Just one ant at a time.

    Zdero questions our society’s regulation and hierarchy, the accumulation of wealth for the very rich, and the deep divide between the rich and poor. This gap continues to deepen. We must think on how our society is structured, and how each religion limits our societal structures.

    Are we concerned with the individual well-being? Should we be concerned about community well-being of this generation or the next? How about the individual well-being of future generations? Or does this book comment on profits for the few shareholders while ignoring the outsiders who do not belong to the right company?

    From Zdero’s Entopia, I received the message that as a society our emphasis on material acquisition by the very few will lead to war. Someday an army of the needy and discontent will come looking. As a society we must decentralize, and depopulate our cities either moving into smaller towns, or creating communities that are self-supporting through interdependence of individual members. This would also encourage food production by all members of our society. With less emphasis on materials, we are less likely as a society to attract unwanted attention through war and strife. By sharing the work, the wealth and the knowledge, we will dissolve discontent, and breed freedom, equality, and unity.

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