Prometheus. The man (sometimes woman) who gets around. And around, and around, with more incarnations spanning more centuries, more millennia, than Buddha could imagine. The cycle begins when an alien civilization lands the Prometheus probe, a form of artificial intelligence, on Earth at the start of human history. Prometheus can morph into any human form, take on any human identity, male or female, young or old, body after body, lifetime after short lifetime, for hundreds of thousands of years.
In The Prometheus Saga, twelve authors present their own unique visions of how this alien might interact with humans from the dawn of man to the present. As the “probe” takes form, the stories cross genres and gender. Each story is self-contained and can be read in any order. Each has a different setting in history. This isn’t a gradual progression of the alien landing on earth and advancing with each incarnation. It’s a startling variety of impressions, a vivid reminder of the ways we are unique even though we’re all human.
Now, don’t do the math and ask why I said 12 authors when there are 13 stories. Look them all up ongoodreads, amazon or wherever you shop for ebooks. Read the titles, authors, synopses and reviews. One of the authors submitted two stories.
Note the diversity of themes and cover art. “Manteo” spooks me. “Ever After” is dreamy and fairy-tale beautiful. “On Both Sides” is revolutionary. 🙂
In “Crystal Night,” our space alien walks into bar in 1939 Berlin, disguised as a tall, handsome Aryan-looking bartender who– Sorry. I shouldn’t “go there,” but I never could resist a bar joke or another variation on why the chicken crossed the road.
Why did the alien land on earth and stay for thousands of years? No, not to show deer how it’s done (my favorite punchline to the chicken), and not so that he could show us a better way. Prometheus is here simply to observe and to learn, not save the world, though but sometimes to change in just a little. He inspires DaVinci, Mary Shelly, a cartographer, and — sorry, I’ve only read three of these so far. I see no need to attribute the best and brightest human inventions to extraterrestrial intelligence (remember Erich von Daniken’s “Chariot of the Gods”?), but the point of speculative fiction is to have fun with the “what ifs.”
Charles A. Cornell’s Crystal Night delivers a darker Prometheus. Instead of wincing at Nazi cruelties and decrying man’s inhumanity to man, this incarnation is fascinated by it. He has the power to stop cruelty and murder but chooses not to exercise that power. He’s here to observe–to learn–not to intercede on our behalf.
I’ll be updating this as I go along, or just writing a separate post for each story in the series.
The Prometheus Saga is part of the Alvarium Experiment, a consortium of roughly a dozen accomplished and award-winning authors, spanning all genres. Science Fiction is the common denominator of the stories even if they appear to be thrillers, fairy tales, historical fiction or romance or — well, see Bria Burton‘s excellent summary:
“First World War” by Ken Pelham. 40,000 BC: As the last remaining species of hominid, Homo sapiens and Homo neanderthalensis, fight a desperate battle for ownership of the future, the outcasts of both sides find themselves caught in middle. Visit Ken at www.kenpelham.com.
NOTE: This may be my favorite! We meet Prometheus soon after he’s “hatched” and seen his first glimpse of earth. With Neanderthals in the story, it’s a sure to hook me in a hurry. I can’t complain the ending is too sad–it is, after all, what happened in real life (more or less).
“The Pisces Affair” by Daco Auffenorde. CIA operative Jordan Jakes meets Prometheus when the Secretary of State becomes the target of a terrorist attack at a head-of-state dinner in Dubai. Visit Daco at www.authordaco.com.
NOTE: This is a fast paced thriller, well written, with a surprise. If you guess who the assassin is right away, you’re a savvy thriller reader. I can see why Daco is already established as a best selling author — and I almost never read thrillers. (Literary is more my cuppa tea.)
“On Both Sides” by Bria Burton. When a mysterious woman vanishes during the American Revolution, young Robby Freeman searches for answers from a cryptic sharpshooter who deserted Washington’s Continental Army. Visit Bria atwww.briaburton.com.
NOTE: This is well written and interesting, well researched, and full of historical information I should remember from high school but don’t. (Oops.) I love the author’s postscript at the end about the real-life mistress of a certain famous historical personage.
“Ever After” by M.J. Carlson. Two mysterious women convey the same Cinderella story to Giambattista Basile in 1594 and Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm in 1811. How different cultures retell this story reveals humanity’s soul to those who listen. Visit M.J. at www.mjcarlson.com.
NOTE: This is a captivating story with a fresh, modern, gritty-realism update of the familiar HEA (happily ever after) to HFN (happy for now). I’m not sure how well it fits the premise of an alien probe reporting back to his “people” the progress of earthlings, but fairy tales are part of humanity, so I guess it works. Confession: from the time I first learned to read, I got hooked on fairy tales. It’s a genre I’ll never tire of.
“Crystal Night” by Charles A. Cornell. Berlin, 1938. On the eve of one of history’s darkest moments, a Swedish bartender working in Nazi Germany accidentally uncovers a woman’s hidden past. Can he avoid becoming an accomplice as the Holocaust accelerates? Visit Charles at www.charlesacornell.com.
NOTE: I’m already a fan of Charles (“Dragonfly” forever!), and he captures the mood and historical details of WWII as if he lived through this era. His parents did, and they conveyed their memories to him as if by telepathy. The mood is tense in the bar as civilians come to fear that whatever they say or do is subject to the judgment and punishment of Nazi thugs. Prometheus takes it all in, fascinated, and detached, to the point that I feel very ambivalent about this version of our resident alien AI. I realize he’s not to intervene in the affairs of man, but the implication that he doesn’t mind watching Nazis torture their victims? Tell me I leaped to a wrong conclusion, Charles!
“The Strange Case of Lord Byron’s Lover” by Parker Francis. Writing in her journal, Mary Shelley recounts a series of perplexing events during her visit with Lord Byron—a visit that resulted in the creation of her famous Frankenstein novel, but also uncovered a remarkable mystery. Visit Parker at www.parkerfrancis.com.
NOTE: This is a moody, atmospheric, eerie, intriguing tale, just as the real visitors to Lord Byron’s estate may have experienced, that famed weekend when they wrote horror stories, and Mary Shelly’s Frankenstein spawned the first science fiction (not sure that she really is ‘first’ but most people seem to agree this is so). Some details, like Prometheus watching two lovers in bed as if our AI hasn’t seen it all before and needs to take notes, struck me as odd. Lord Byron may have written some great poetry, but as a womanizer, he sounds like quite a cad. Overall, an interesting story.
“Strangers on a Plane” by Kay Kendall. In 1969 during a flight across North America, a young mother traveling with her infant meets an elderly woman who displays unusual powers. But when a catastrophe threatens, are those powers strong enough to avert disaster? This short story folds into Kay’s mystery series featuring the young woman, amateur sleuth Austin Starr. Visit Kay at www.kaykendallauthor.com.
“East of the Sun” by Jade Kerrion. Through a mysterious map depicting far-flung lands, a Chinese sailor in 1424 and a Portuguese cartographer in 1519 share a vision of an Earth far greater than the reality they know. Visit Jade at www.jadekerrion.com.
NOTE: Interesting, and I love the historical view of early map makers.
“Manteo” by Elle Andrews Patt. In 1587, Croatan native Manteo returns from London to Roanoke Island, Virginia. Can he reconcile his strong loyalty to the untamed land and people of his home with his desire for the benefits the colonizing English bring with them before one of them destroys the other? Visit Elle at www.elleandrewspatt.com.
“Lilith” by Antonio Simon, Jr. In this retelling of the Adam & Eve story, a hermit’s life is turned upside-down by the arrival of a mysterious woman in his camp. As the story of their portentous meeting carries forward through the millennia, only time will tell if Lilith is a heroine, a victim, or a monster. Visit Antonio atwww.DarkwaterSyndicate.com.
“Fifteen Dollars’ Guilt” by Antonio Simon, Jr. 1881: After a close brush with death in a steamship disaster, Prometheus encounters another survivor who gripes about how aimless his life has become. Prometheus helps him find his calling, inadvertently setting in motion the assassination of President Garfield. Visit Antonio atwww.DarkwaterSyndicate.com.
Visit the website to view all of the stories: The Prometheus Saga
“The Blurred Man” by Bard Constantine. FBI agent Dylan Plumm’s investigation of a mill explosion puts her on the trail of the Blurred Man, a mysterious individual who may have been on Earth for centuries. Visit Bard at www.bardwritesbooks.com.
Why is it watching us? http://alvariumexperiment.wix.com/prometheussaga
You can find all the authors of
#AlvariumExperiment on Facebook and Twitter:
Parker Francis, aka Vic DiGenti, @
Elle Andrews Patt @
Did I get all twelve authors? Tell me if I omit anyone or anything.
I *will* be back with my impressions of this “baker’s dozen” of great stories.