The Prince and the Singularity by Pedro Barrento
The Prince and the Singularity – A Circular Tale is a take on the Creation myth, drawing from different religious and philosophical sources and mixing them in an original, challenging and often very funny way. It is written in a multi-layered format, allowing it to be read both as a simple and entertaining fable and as a deeply philosophical work, full of hidden references and satire. It’s the story of the Prince aka the Master aka Francis, who is more or less immortal and goes through the millennia fighting Desire and Rejection, the roots of all unhappiness and evil. He always fails until the moment he loses interest and decides to die, which he doesn’t. Instead he gets promoted.
*I received a copy via a Smashwords coupon code.
The title of The Prince and the Singularity: A Circular Tale is very apt. The story has many circles, which for the most part I found fascinating.
It’s another great example of the experimenting you can do with self-publishing, and I really enjoyed how the author Pedro Barrento was upfront in the beginning of the book about what the story is:
“It’s prose, but it reads like poetry.
It has elements of the fantastical including a prince and a damsel in distress, but it doesn’t belong to the fantasy genre.
It’s a fairy tale, but it is not meant for children.
It has no sex, no violence and no foul language, but it is definitely not boring.
It is circular, but not round.[…]”
There are certainly lyrical elements in this book, such as in the beginning of Chapter 1, which actually gets repeated a few times throughout the story (“In the beginning, there was nothing…”).
At first, I thought this was going to be a retelling of the New Testament, with a twist. There are gods, but we are introduced to one man, known as the Prince, who has taken it upon himself to save humanity. We follow him through his journey, where we see him fail with several disciples, including Mary Magdalene.
But then it gets more interesting. **SPOILER ALERT** We find out that the world is just a part of a game. And the game consists of multiple layers of players, and each level is unaware of the players in the level above them. Everything happens over and over again in a cycle, and it is up to the players in the lower level to break their cycles and move up in the game.
I was a little thrown off when the Prince walked away from Mary Magdalene and suddenly ended up in the future where people are driving cars.
But I did like that everything was connected somehow, and that it was easy to see the same actions play out over and over again. History repeats itself, over and over and over, until finally someone learns from it and is able to start a new cycle. The last chapter is called “Final Musings” and it offers a lot of different ideas about the meaning of life and where we stand in the universe.
I found the whole concept fascinating, and I think Barrento did an excellent job combining so many complicated ideas into one circular story.
The way this book was written is also interesting. In the credits, Barrento thanks “everybody on the authonomy.com and youwriteon.com sites who made suggestions on how I could improve the book.” I’ve heard about a lot of indie authors who use beta readers and have been experimenting with agile publishing—basically incorporating feedback as they write—and it seems that in the self-publishing sphere at least, collaborating more with readers online is becoming more the norm.
I think The Prince and the Singularity is a success story, both in terms of teamwork and being a really entertaining, captivating read.
Published: January 2013, ~160 pages