Book Review: Terra Incognita, by Mark Ferguson
Mark Ferguson’s descriptive, detailed writing drew me right into every scene as if I were watching it on a movie theater screen.
Terra Incognita is a roller coaster ride of cooperation, loyalty, betrayal, and sacrifice.
The story is filled with a large cast of unique, colorful, and sometimes grotesque, alien species—all intertwined with each other’s lives due to the “Dark Crystal-like” (Jim Henson, Frank Oz 1982 Muppet movie) great conjunctions of alternate realities. These alternate realities, originally parallel realities, begin to crash into each other due to a cataclysmic event referred to as the Loosing. This event caused the Earth, originally a 3-dimensional sphere, to become a 4-dimensional hypersphere, creating new surfaces that spread out like ripples on a pond, overlapping at various points.
Do yourself a favor and look for YouTube models for a better visual understanding of a hypersphere.
Here is one:
As the hypersphere continued to rotate, these overlapping points continually shifted, causing chaos in all things, from night and day, to seasonal changes. As a result, landscapes changed, habitats became unstable, and mass species extinctions occurred.
Imagine, for instance, being a tree that normally drops its leaves in the fall, and grows new buds, then leaves and flowers in the spring. Now imagine that same tree, in our normal understanding of “time,” going from daylight to night in the space of what we would know as a couple of hours, summer to winter in the space of 5 hours, then to spring, perhaps 3 hours later, then back to summer 8 hours after that. How does it survive? In most cases
Touching on one of the main characters, child prodigy, Nemed’s, mental struggle to understand the nature of the conflict with the entities known only as Forteans in Chapter 5, is so artfully narrated that I felt as if I was surfing through his mind, completely wrapped up in that thought-provoking maze as he sought the one elusive puzzle piece that could complete the whole picture.
Providing background into the various cultures involved in this chaotic world, the author was detailed and thorough—sometimes a bit too thorough. There is quite a bit of moralizing that has the potential to become tedious; however, the intent behind it is valid. Any strength, taken to an extreme, becomes a weakness. Even the ability to think logically and critically can become a weakness when taken to an extreme. One only has to look at Vulcans who tamed their wildness with logic and reason at the expense of intimacy and other, more emotionally-intelligent traits.
Additionally, I am rather squeamish—horror, for instance, is a genre I tend to avoid. I was probably the only teenager who had to have her 3-year-old brother sit on her bed with her so she could “safely” finish Stephen King’s novel, The Shining, to the bitter end. In Terra Incognita, some of the scenes, particularly those involving creatures called Inrisus, are downright disgusting. The mysterious origins of the
Effective editing could have improved the flow. Painful as this process can be, especially for an author as detailed and descriptive as Mark Ferguson, I think it would have been beneficial in the long run. That absolutely in no way takes away from his accomplishment, however. He has created an epic world, with a unique theme. Sit up and take notice. This is an up and coming author that has great potential.
For more insights into Terra Incognita, see my interview with the author, Mark Ferguson!