CETAPIENS by S. Amaranthine is the second novel of a trilogy dealing with large-scale science fiction and fantasy concepts in a non-linear narrative that encompasses multiple planes of existence. Unlike THE VENCELLO, the first book in this series, this narrative follows multiple characters, some of whom are amalgams of other characters, as well as characters existing in multiple universes at the same time. One of those universes is called “Cetapiens,” because it is a universe combined with cetaceans and homo sapiens.
To draw a comparison, not to other prose but to television, THE VENCELLO is to CETAPIENS what the original run of Twin Peaks is to the recent revival of the series airing on Showtime. One is a straightforward narrative with fantastical elements hinting at a deeper mythos. The sequels, however, are more a collection of images and concepts from which a dedicated audience can glean details about both the narrative and the wider mythology. The two works share a similarity of theme, at least when it comes to doppelgangers, different dimensions, and the ability of people in one dimension to perceive the other.
CETAPIENS may be a challenge for readers, especially since Amaranthine creates an entire vocabulary to help tell the story. She includes a glossary of fictional terms, though the concepts are defined much more clearly in the context of the story. For example, in the glossary Amaranthine defines a “gemini” (or the twin) of a being alive in one universe existing in another. A confusing concept, no doubt, but one best described, not in the glossary, but rather in a scene that that revisits the climax of the first book.
The concept of time-travel–introduced in the first book, as well, but only in the abstract–also plays a big role here and we revisit a number of scenes, including the deaths of a human character and an Orca character multiple times. It’s actually a fun twist Amaranthine employs on the common time-travel trope of revisiting key moments in time, but seen from multiple angles. It’s reminiscent of the finale of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, but the fairy-story about a wizard school’s version of time travel is far less complex than what we find in CETAPIENS.
Still, despite all of the confusing concepts throughout, Amaranthine does a wonderful job of keeping a clear narrative lifeline throughout the story. Whereas in THE VENCELLO our narrator was omniscient, Amaranthine ties the point-of-view to specific characters. This helps readers keep the storylines straight. While it’s tough to envision what a person who is also an entire universe might look and sound like, we are never lost about what they want or the purpose they serve in our characters’ journeys.
VERDICT: CETAPIENS is a story that relies heavily on surrealism and abstract concepts to tell a larger narrative that spans multiple planes of reality to tell a story about life, evolution, and the persistence of love through it all, in a clear narrative.
4.3 out of 5 stars!
~Joshua M. Patton for IndieReader
Cetapiens, the second of an epic time travel trilogy, picks right up where The Vencello left off. The three very clever species: human, orca and sperm whale had much more than being large brained mammals in common! Carried along by natural mechanisms of despair, hunger and fear, from the serendipitous tragedy of a son's death to a whale's will to survive imminent extinction, they were unwittingly compelled to a joyful unexpected triumph! Meet the Priori: As the Vencello universe emerged it was immediately clear that it was not the first of its kind or alone by any means. Indeed, self-similar sentient universes, called the Priori, of which the Vencello was a rather simple form, welcomed it and ensured its survival. The Vencello's was a happy 'Childhood' as Priori rush in to share time travel, multiverse knowledge and so much more! Meet the Cetapiens: that is what the Priori call the ancient human culture that benefited for millennia from an unprecedented alliance with orcas. With the help of Alvar, one of a very few human time travelers, the native people and orcas developed an idyllic environment that became a pleasure paradise for pain-averse Priori time travelers. The coming and going of so many Priori could ensure the survival of that singular culture for all time! Meet the Orion: an elusive species of deep diving cetaceans. Much of their lives are lived in a secluded privileged ocean realm full of bioluminescent beauty. They manipulate living bling for pure entertainment, swirling it in dynamic displays of skill and expressions of love. Ultimately, one very special family of Orion discovers it is also the key to save many ocean species from extinction. They prepare their ocean territory for trans-universe travel and each other for the journey. These and many more are preserved in the pages of Cetapiens as a reminder that similar lives that have long ended were here and the universe cannot forget them. Please visit samaranthine.com for cool playlists, related science concepts and other titles.