"According current theories of cosmology, it may be possible for human beings to pass through a black hole or wormhole to another universe. Some believe that the passage would crush our bodies; others agree with Roy Kerr who theorizes that we would survive, but the passage would be a one-way trip. The premise of my novel is that if we made it there, we could function quite well with what's left of us. Only trouble is, we would take with us all our imperfections and would still need to do something about wars, crime, greed, etc.
Jasper Wergild, the main character of The Condo, buys an upscale condo unit in a gated community, where he hopes to relax, reconnect with his wife Marguerite and get away from the frustrations of life in the world of business and politics. When he gets there after an automobile accident, he finds that the Condo is a gated community of a different kind: everyone is allowed to enter, but no one is allowed to leave. Jasper loses track of time, and it appears, so has everyone else.
Paradise Point Condominiums is my version of a parallel universe. Jasper's neighbors are from all walks of life and carry with them the joys, wounds, and corruptions of the human experience: Yasmeen is an abused wife forced into prostitution by her husband; Daren is a serial killer, and Anna is one of his victims; Jasper meets people who have touched his life over the years, people like Makalo, his former student in an inner city high school, and Pete, a war-damaged veteran.
Helping him in his desperate search to escape is Pronto, a Holocaust survivor, and Selena, a caseworker who makes him face his own demons and shows him a way out that Jasper is not sure he wants to take.
The only way people can leave the Condo is to submit to the ""Treatment,"" a highly individualized procedure with no guarantees that it will be successful. And even if it is successful, Jasper doubts that he will like the place where he will go. Some of his neighbors call the place heaven and are looking forward to the experience, but Jasper is uncertain. How can human beings ever be freed from their evil tendencies, he asks. And if by some miracle they are transformed, he thinks they will lose their individuality and become no better than ""God's singing marionettes.""
In his search for answers, Jasper finds his way to a community named Harmony, a nightmarish version of the American Dream, where every citizen aims to do only what is useful for his own comfort. His guide Eugene takes him to see their school, where students are controlled by computer sensors and taught to use subtle—and not so subtle—methods of defeating their enemies. Jasper is horrified to find that the citizens of Harmony are planning to take over the Condo. With a supreme effort of his will, Jasper escapes from Harmony, but he knows that he must return to save those children.
Finally Jasper has no choice but to try the Treatment. The first part of the procedure requires that he open his mind to consider every experience of his life. He sits alone in a room with a computer that shows him all the painful and sweet scenes of his married life, including the death of his infant son. As he watches, Jasper learns to accept his whole relationship with Marguerite as an experience to be treasured. But he balks at accepting Andy, his friend turned foe, who caused his expulsion from Dartmouth College. In the group session Jasper witnesses the torments of his fellow participants as they struggle to ""find the seeds of heaven"" in their lives, each in his or her own way.
The novel is science fiction that throws light on our existing world by taking the reader to an imaginary world. In addition to gadgets of the parallel world such as computers with undeletable data and ""soulphones"" that let you listen in to what people are thinking, the Condo has other assets: it is a place where you can meet interesting thinkers of the past such as Emmanuel Swedenborg, C.S. Lewis, and even G.B. Shaw.
About Dalma Takács
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Published October 22, 2010
Science Fiction & Fantasy, Literature & Fiction.