BOOK REVIEW: Conquering the Divide: The Legend of Barsicon by Angela Stever

Book Review

Title: Conquering the Divide: The Legend of Barsicon
Author:  Angela Stever
Imprint: Tellwell Talent
Released: October 30, 2021
Pages: 284
ISBN-13: 978-0228863120
Stars:  4.0

Conquering the Divide: The Legend of Barsicon is new, young adult, LGBTQ-friendly fantasy/dystopian science-fiction for the 21st century by well-known Kingston, Ontario radio host Angela Stever. The book’s hero, Seneca Ellis-Brant, is a girl just turning 16 years old, and she’s the youngest Light Seeker in Barsicon history. Seneca has been training her whole life to be a Light Seeker with the help of her two moms, Ma Marie and Mama C (Catherine), and her combat instructor, JD, a diminutive warrior with a neon-coloured mohawk.

In July 2022, two days before the Light Ceremony, she believes it is her destiny to conquer. Seneca meets Alex, JD’s cousin, who is referred to using the pronouns they/them. Alex is the first stranger Seneca has ever met, a popular singer in Light City, and sexual-spiritual fireworks ensue.

Seneca has trained diligently for the Light Ceremony, believing that she will complete it and be able to move her family from The Darkness, the land to the east of Light City, inhabited by the 1% elite of Barsicon on the shores of West Ocean. To gain the privilege of living in Light City, Light Seekers must complete Seven Steps into the Light, which amounts to a battle to the death. But has Seneca been brainwashed? Is the story she has been told about her miraculous birth true? Is she simply a pawn in a very toxic game?

Light City is ruled by President Barbara Crow, an angry woman with daddy issues whose father, General Walter Crow (a comic book buffoon of a bullying leader with no real backbone), demanded the construction of a wall between Light City and The Darkness following the Battle of Barsicon in 1972. Northern Warriors erected the barrier parallel to the coastline, two miles inland from the West Ocean. Only the wealthy live along the West Ocean, its residents made up of people who sleep until noon and feast until midnight, playing games and dancing all day. The wall offers them protection from the ‘unworthy.’

While reading this book—which could arguably be a parable—during the middle of the umpteenth lockdown of the COVID-19 pandemic, one cannot help but recognize the parallels in the world in which we live and the authors’ world of Barsicon, a simply constructed, dystopian fantasy world. Many of us are seeking a higher spiritual path in light of the darkness we have found ourselves in for the past two years. The 1% elite who govern and decide how we will conduct ourselves and live our lives, have divided us with vaccine mandates, passports, and other draconian restrictions. In today’s world, there is a divide between the vaccinated and the unvaccinated, people who are described by the media and even our Prime Minister as unworthy of living in regular society. It may only be a matter of time before we are physically segregated, even though many of us can see that our leaders’ plan to deal with the pandemic is not working. Right now, most of our lives are about survival and not thriving, just like the citizens of Barsicon who live in The Darkness.

There are psychopaths, unexpected twists and turns in Conquering the Divide, and a little bit of magic, lots of mystery, and plenty of heart-centred heroes to cheer for. If you loved The Hunger Games or The Mortal Instruments, you’d want to join Seneca as she discovers her new normal and realizes her true destiny, moving out of The Darkness and into the light. This fast-paced, exciting adventure is filled with nuggets of spiritual wisdom and a satisfying ending that will leave you wanting more.

Angela Stever has peppered her story with “Easter egg” references to local singer-songwriters who music fans in this region know and love and named the main protagonist and another heroic character after her two sons. I suspect she may have used Prince Edward County and Sandbanks Provincial Park as inspiration for Barsicon. Conquering the Divide (available on Amazon now) is her first novel, and it is an outstanding debut. This reader cannot wait for more stories by Stever.

May the God of Light’s Final Judgement find you worthy before you are forced to die for the greater good. “The power should be in the hands of the people, not in the hands of one man.” As in all fantasy stories, there is a battle between good and evil, and the protagonists must overcome seemingly impossible challenges to defeat their adversaries. Sometimes the men in power are simply weak, bullying idiots being controlled by psychopathic puppet masters. And sometimes, it takes standing up to our oppressors and being willing to start a revolution before the light can shine through The Darkness.

Book Review: God of Nothing: Book #1 The ALL by Shane Scott, a Writer to be Reckoned With

Book Review

Title: God of Nothing: Book #1 The ALL
Author:  Shane Scott
Imprint: Self-published
Released: February 6, 2021
Pages: 499
ISBN-13: 978-1735518213
Stars:  3.5


Gods, Devils, Titans, Dragons, Angels, Demons, Bool (a.k.a. Werewolves), Vampires, and Mortals all inhabit the fantastical worlds created by gifted author Shane Scott in his debut novel, God of Nothing: Book #1 The ALL.

At the beginning of each chapter, the reader is provided with knowledge about the facts of the worlds that Scott has created by Miranda, God of Knowledge (a Titan librarian and historian of the ALL). Don’t skip reading these as they contain essential information that you will undoubtedly go back to.

The story shifts back-and-forth through time, beginning in the year 2002 (January) on Planet Earth with Aja Ashe Jensen, a 17-year-old girl who lives in Maine with her father, Matthew Jensen. Vacationing at Matthew’s cabin in Naples, ME, with her dad’s friend, Dr. Theodore Kane, and his son—her best friend, Bobby—Aja is itching to take the new Ski-Doo she received for Christmas for a ride. As a blizzard is in progress, she must wait for the storm to pass.

We know almost immediately that there is something very different about Aja as she has begun to notice an electric blue and gold aura emanating from her person, while a serpent has been twisting and turning through her insides.

The next day, Aja goes for her snowmobile ride and ends up having “an accident” that results in her and her machine going through the ice and her body instantly freezes. We soon discover that Silver, God of Death, and a Titan, is responsible for the death of Aja, the Dragon. We also discover that Aja‘s father is Memnoth, God of Love, who has been hiding as a Mortal. However, not only is he God of Love, but also the God of Hate, Satan. And Lucifer is the God of Evil. I’m not clear on whether Lucifer is also Memnoth.

This is just the beginning of an extremely ambitious, complex story, that weaves in and out of time, space, and different planets that make up the ALL. The author has provided the reader with a timeline that explains the main characters, significant dates for their introduction to the tale, and how they are related but it is a bit hard to understand until we read more. There is so much going on in this story that one must pay close attention so as not to miss any key plot points.

We learn about different Immortals’ romantic relationships, how they are related to others, and what part they will play in the future of the ALL. We also learn that “before the beginning, God existed without form or substance. In the realm of Nothing, She existed as something.”  The author’s creation of the history of the universe that exists in this novel is interesting. Nothing is what we would expect based on anything in this genre we have read before. God creates time yet finds it difficult to hold Her thoughts, existing in a battle for Self. The only weapons in God’s arsenal are Her Will and Her Word but She nevertheless made nothing into something and with it created Her own body. Time confuses many cultures in the ALL and Immortals can walk through doorways into various places and times.

This book turns the myth of Creation that we understand, upside down. God created Memnoth to be different from Her and so that She wouldn’t be alone. Memnoth was her Next (soul mate). Memnoth named God, Ashe, and he loved Her, but She didn’t love him. She was not capable of emotion. So, Memnoth created Spirit, resembling DNA, compiled of threads that go beyond infinity, as well as threads of emotions, to fix her, or to give her the choice to love him or not. From this gift exploded a massive Dragon of Spirit that amalgamated itself with Ashe.

Ashe and Memnoth created Silver, God of Death, and first of the Titans. However, Silver wanted what she couldn’t have, Memnoth. Silver kills Ashe, destroying Memnoth’s love, and Memnoth, God of Love became Satan, God of Hate. Satan curses Silver to bring pain, suffering, and misery into God’s creation. And with her dying breath, the Voice of God whispered in Memnoth’s ear, “let there be life.“ “An endless explosion of God’s perfect, pure love turned nothing into Everything. God’s ALL, 12 dimensions of infinite, came into existence.”

The use of the capitalization of the pronouns is a bit tedious for this reader. However, the story itself is compelling and engaging and the author is a mad scientist genius with a wicked sense of humour.

In Part Two, we visit Planet Gella, Home of the Immortals (a place with few rules or laws) where no Immortal ever harms another as it is forbidden. The Immortal races control energy without technology. They touch sources of power and shape it to their will which is majik. What a person does with majik or tek defines if it’s good or evil. Mortals capable of doing limited majik are known as Seer, Witch, and Sorcerer.

Sel, a Dragon, falls in love with Lilith who is a Demon and a prisoner in the dungeons of The Castle Sovereign. He rescues her from the dungeons and after Lilith gets sick because she has trouble acclimating to Planet Gella, Satan (Sel’s grandfather) and Sel take Lilith to The Downstairs (where Demons are chained) and set her in Hellfire. She absorbs its energy and stores it in her heart, which restores her health. Lilith slowly finds her way to trusting and then loving Sel.

Sel is the son of Aja and Wyatt/Yennifer/Gia, and his partner is Lilith. Jaxx is the son of Sel and Lilith and his partner is Olivia. Jaxx and Olivia’s story takes place in the year 2236 on Planet Gella. Jaxx is the only Dragon with a Demon heart. He is in love with an eighteen-year-old Vampire named Olivia. Miranda helps Jaxx and Olivia understand their place in the ALL and the difference between Nothing and Everything which is very helpful to the reader.

These characters mostly behave like humans, eating, sleeping, having sex, working, and participating in a fantastical soap opera directed by Satan.

In Part Three we go to The Upstairs, a part of Hell, and a place of decadent pleasure. Cassamodia (Cassy) manages The Upstairs which is a hedonistic nightclub for every species in the galaxy. It’s where everyone comes to party in Hell. It’s also a place where they have a tough time keeping staff but when Cassy hires a human named Evangeline (Eva) she soon finds not only a capable, loyal employee, but after a long Ebezzian courtship, a life partner as well. Eva has an AI chip she calls Hal installed in her brain and it helps her to figure out how to win Cassy’s heart.

Wen, God of Chaos, is a Titan who stands between chaos and order. Her mother is Ashe, aka God. Her best pal is Beelzebub, the Chained God, who does anything he wants and makes the impossible possible. He hangs out in The Upstairs where he enjoys teasing the hell out of Eva.

In Part Four – Dragon, we’re introduced to Hugh and Alexa Nash (nee Conroy) who met in 1587 at the beheading of Mary, Queen of Scots and married soon after. Hugh Nash works for the Devil at H-Corp as a lawyer who lies for a living. And Alexa works there too. They are still working for H-Corp in 2002 and have been taking care of Aja’s body while she has been comatose. After two months in this state, Aja awakens to discover her inner Dragon who she soon discovers is her identical twin, intended as a weapon of mass destruction. Dragon keeps Aja’s body alive and teaches her that lightning is hers to command and that she can do anything she likes, even go to Mars.

Alexa (aka Lexxi) tells Aja about the true nature of her father, but Aja has trouble believing that he’s the Devil. And I mean really, who wouldn’t?

Aja meets John, a handsome young man who she discovers is a Bool joined with Yennifer, a female human, and Gia, a female two-thousand-pound polar bear. Aja is attracted to John and stalks him until she bumps into him. John can shift into Yennifer (born approx. 900 AD and raised and tortured by Silver before she turned Yennifer into Bool) and he can see the past and all possible futures. He can also shift into Gia and that is when things get remarkably interesting.

Establishing all the characters, their relationships and their place in the ALL takes up almost half the book so one must be a patient reader because the main plot point concerning Aja isn’t revisited until Chapter 16 in Part Four. I haven’t even mentioned all the characters here. There is little action in the first half of the book but this is Book #1 in The ALL series so the author intends for there to be lots more action to come.

This self-published fantasy novel has been very well edited, has striking, colourful cover art that may lead one to believe this book is for Young Adults (I would never let my children read something like this if I was a parent), and there is no denying the clever twisted mind or ambition of author, Scott. He has included a warning on Amazon to let readers know that this book is intended for people 18 years or older.

It turned my stomach to read this passage:

“Excitement coursed through Silver when she conducted her experiments. She touched herself when torturing others. The amount of animals, sentient animals, and human species the Titan tortured, raped, maimed, and murdered would have left Charles Manson vomiting and begging for it to end.”

I was afraid to read further because this isn’t the kind of content I like or am interested in, but I pushed on anyway. And that’s not all. Silver hates all cats and tortures kittens. Ugh. Silver and Lucifer help each other but as often as they do, they also screw each other over, figuratively, and literally because Lucifer only wants to make Demon Bool while Silver creates the Born Dead. They kill their assistant and lover, Dr. Susan Baker via sexual torture. The story contains considerable profanity including the F-word and C-word, so read it at your discretion.

As someone who believes in a Higher Power, reading a book like this feels like bad juju to me. It’s like watching a graphic horror movie that I must turn my head away from because I don’t want to go there anymore. The world we live in is horrific enough. However, then the author writes statements like “No abomination can stand in the Light of God.”  I’m curious as to what comes next, so I proceed. By the end of this book, the tone shifts, and the reader is left to wonder about the answers to many unanswered questions asked by Olivia. We’ll just have to wait for those answers until Scott publishes God of Everything: Book #2 The ALL.

If you read all the above and still want to read God of Nothing: Book #1 The ALL,  then this book is definitely for you. I didn’t read the Amazon warning before I read it, but I would have given God of Nothing four stars if the areas I found offensive had been toned down. All in all, Shane Scott is a writer to be reckoned with.

Anti-Labyrinths by Boris Glikman and Michael Cheval

Discover the Philosophical, Fantastical Fiction of Australian Writer Boris Glikman, and a Sneak Peek of His Upcoming Coffee Table Book, Anti-Labyrinths, with Art by Michael Cheval


Terra Incognita II by Michael Cheval

Over the years, I have published many of Australian author, Boris Glikman‘s short stories on my blog, because I’m a fan of his work. He is currently working on a coffee table book collection of his fictional, philosophical, and fantastical stories that will be accompanied by the gorgeous, surrealistic paintings of artist Michael Cheval whose work inspired many of Boris’s stories. It is my pleasure to offer my readers a glimpse into Boris’s upcoming book, Anti-Labyrinths.

But first, here is a list of story titles by Boris Glikman and links to each of them on this blog (in order of latest publishing to earliest). If you have not already read this man’s work, I strongly urge you to do so as it is entertaining, fantastical, philosophical, and thought-provoking.

The Great Switch by Boris Glikman | Bodacious Copy

Reality and “Reality”: A New Perspective by Boris Glikman | Bodacious Copy

The Light of Their Lives by Boris Glikman | Bodacious Copy

Existential Prose: A Train’s Journey by Boris Glikman | Bodacious Copy

Waiting for John / An Ode to the Century Past / Imagine by Boris Glikman | Bodacious Copy

The Shadow of the Great Nebula of Orion by Boris Glikman | Bodacious Copy

The Pen of Plenty (or A Portrait of an Artist as the Entire Universe) by Boris Glikman | Bodacious Copy

The Caterpilion by Boris Glikman | Bodacious Copy

The Curious Story of Frank and His Friend Mr. Stims, The Hydrophobe by Boris Glikman | Bodacious Copy

The (Virtually) Real Life by Boris Glikman | Bodacious Copy

The Day the Internet Died by Boris Glikman | Bodacious Copy

Boris Glikman – Underground Australian Celebrity with A Mind Like A Planet | Bodacious Copy

The Substitute Sun by Boris Glikman | Bodacious Copy

America in the Sky (in Memoriam) by Boris Glikman | Bodacious Copy

The Day Death Died by Boris Glikman | Bodacious Copy

The mePhone by Boris Glikman | Bodacious Copy

Anti-Labyrinths

by Boris Glikman

In an ancient land, distant in time and space, the absolute ruler decreed that a new construction would be built – in the centre of the capital city – an anti-labyrinth, a place where people could go to find themselves if they felt lost or at odds with themselves or with their lives.

What is an anti-labyrinth, you might well ask? Well, everything in this world has its antithesis. And so, just as a labyrinth is a place in which people get lost and experience confusion, frustration, and sometimes fear and despair, a maze in which one must traverse a long and often tortuous path to its centre, becoming disorientated while seeking the secrets that lie at its core, an anti-labyrinth is a place in which the centre lies at every point, where mysteries and truths are revealed and comprehended with each new step, a place without any dead ends, where every path leads to the finishing point, and where instead of getting lost, one finds oneself and realises one’s place in the Universe.
 
(This is also how the book Anti-Labyrinths is structured – you can enter or exit it at any point, you don’t have to begin reading it at its beginning or finish reading it at its end, and at every point of the book secrets and truths are revealed.)

An anti-labyrinth is not an abstract or fictional entity that resides only in books or in the imagination. On the contrary, an anti-labyrinth is a well-defined solid structure, yet its form is not stable and changes over time, sometimes taking on the shape of a building, other times the shape of a tree, occasionally the form of a tune, and many other forms too. Presently, it has taken on the form of a book which you are now holding in your hands.

The Great Switch by Boris Glikman

Art by Michael Cheval

Division of Prime Cause by Michael Cheval


After the cataclysm took place, people, or rather the beings that people transformed into, would refer to it as The Great Switch. When these beings recalled how the world had been before The Great Switch, what struck them above everything else was how blind they’d been in those times.

Back then, religious teachings and scientific theories kept mankind obedient, cowed through ominous prophecies of apocalypses and armageddons, when all life on Earth or indeed the Universe itself would come to an end. What no one had foreseen was that there could be far greater calamities than universal annihilation.

The Great Switch was a process which caused the inner and outer selves of human beings to swap places, so that the emotional, mental, and spiritual characteristics now became external and vice versa. It must be stressed that it wasn’t just a case of the intangible inner characteristics becoming visible; rather, the inner selves now literally became the outer physical bodies, while the physical bodies became invisible internal entities.

Naturally, the consequences of this event were momentous and far-reaching. No longer could anyone conceal their true inner self; it was exposed in all its glory and disgrace, in all its beauty and ugliness. Many lives were wrecked, relationships destroyed, and careers ruined, as a person’s internal neuroses, anxieties, delusions, hatreds, prejudices, insecurities, and character flaws were revealed to their partners, family, friends, work colleagues and strangers. The very structure of society was threatened, for its smooth running was greatly dependent upon people suppressing and hiding their true natures and feelings.

After The Great Switch, a large proportion of the world’s population disappeared completely. Of all the competing theories about this vanishing, the most popular one was that the superficial, soulless lives led by many had made them emotionally, mentally, and spiritually vacuous. Consequently, once the Great Switch had taken place, those people were rendered externally empty and became invisible.

Yet, for some, this turn of events proved to be a godsend. Before the Great Switch, physical appearance was of paramount significance; people’s impressions and opinions of you were predominantly based upon how you looked. In your daily interactions you were constantly, indeed instantly, judged on your looks. Your inner essence, being imperceptible to others, required much more time and effort to uncover.[1] Few were interested or willing to do that, as, in those fast-paced times, people hardly had the time to discover their own inner selves, let alone the inner selves of others.

And so, it was especially touching to witness the pride and joy of some of those who had been physically ugly before this event, those who, despite all the slights and the disregard meted out to them by the world, maintained their dignity and self-respect, their souls not begrimed by bitterness, self-loathing or envy. Now, their inner purity sparkled brilliantly for all to see and marvel at.

On the other hand, it was rare to come across someone who was strikingly good-looking both before and after The Great Switch. Maybe it should not have been surprising for, given the ceaseless attention, admiration and favouritism that was lavished upon those of great physical beauty, it was inevitable that they would become self-absorbed and incapable of empathy. And so, after this cataclysm, a large proportion of the blindingly gorgeous turned into some of the most hideous beings around, their ugliness causing others to turn away in shock and disgust. Yet there was pity for them too, and a desire to help somehow. 

It was particularly ironic how the mirror, once the most treasured possession of the beautiful people, now became the bane of their existence—something to avoid at all costs, lest they catch sight of their transformed selves. Indeed, mirrors and other reflective surfaces became horrifying and loathed objects for many in this post-Switch world. Few had the courage to see themselves exactly as they are. Perhaps they were terrified of facing the stark truths their reflections might reveal. Or, maybe they were afraid of what they might not see, given how easy it had been in the pre-Switch world to delude yourself about possessing undiscovered talents and untapped potential, and to convince yourself that all these marvellous gifts were supposedly hidden in the depths and shadows of your mind and soul. 

It should be mentioned at this point that The Great Switch was so all-encompassing that its effects were not limited to mankind. All living organisms, from bacteria to whales, and everything in between, were affected too. However, unlike many human beings, none of the other living organisms disappeared after this event, thus settling once and for all the age-old question of whether it was only man who possessed a soul. It was now indisputable that all microrganisms, plants and animals had an inner self too. Moreover, in stark contrast to the prevalence of ugliness in post-Switch mankind, they all became beings of simple yet distinct beauty. From this it could be concluded that every non-human living creature, no matter how loathsome or harmful it might have been in the eyes of humanity, no matter how devoid it might have seemed of any redeeming features, had a pure, beautiful soul. Regardless of how much suffering and death such organisms as typhoid bacteria, malarial mosquitoes and lice have caused to mankind over the eons, their inner selves all shone with the same plain, steady radiance.

How exactly did The Great Switch come about and what had caused it is still being fiercely debated: Was it God’s doing? Or was it a hitherto unknown, yet completely natural stage of the evolutionary process? Perhaps it was something else entirely; a singular, unprecedented phenomenon that neither science nor religion could explain. What is not debatable is the radical transformation this upheaval wrought upon the Earth, for it had affected each and every living entity. Even embryos and foetuses gestating inside their expectant mothers were not immune from its effects.

Perhaps the scenario that I have painted seems implausible and utterly preposterous. Yet, who is to say that our current reality is not actually a temporary aberration from the state of being described above? What if it is only during this period of existence that we briefly possess physical features on the outside, and emotional, mental, and spiritual features on the inside? And what if, once in the Afterworld, we exist for all eternity with our inner selves externalised?

Is that as good a reason as any for us to start working on our souls, to start devoting as much time to developing and improving our emotional, mental and spiritual selves as we devote to bettering and beautifying our physical bodies? For, after all, these fragile corporeal bodies belong to us but for an instant of time while our inner selves may live on forever.

I leave you to ponder these questions. And if you choose to dismiss my suggestions as absurd nonsense, let’s catch up again to talk about them when we are both dwelling in the Afterworld. I will then say to you, without a trace of smugness or schadenfreude in my voice: “I told you so!”

seeing souls

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[1] Indeed, given that one’s inner self was invisible, it was easy for others to ignore, if not deny its existence altogether. And this sort of repudiation was not limited to amoral types like ruthless criminals and callous psychopaths. Entire philosophies, such as solipsism, were based on the premise that it is impossible for an individual to determine whether other people have souls and minds.

Boris Glikman

Michael Cheval