Monday, May 25, 2009

Half Full Moon


Andy Snook is a helicopter pilot who finds himself stranded in the Kalahari desert of Botswana, because, apparently, a grain of sand has broken his machine. The first chapter is narrated in the third person. This narrative technique is used to demonstrate how the protagonist leaves his indirect experience of life (throughout secondhand experiences and all of the artifices of the modern world) and enters ‘The Now’, or the desert of the real. This occurs at the end of the difficult transformations built into the first chapter.

It occurs to him, that he is not a third person, but a first person. He is I.

After only a short time in the desert, Andy Snook (an ostensibly wealthy person) encounters his opposite: naked, and apparently poor. This Bushman (Rraditshipi) guides him to safety. There he encounters other ‘stranded’ survivors – who represent the human condition in its various guises – masculine, sensitive, aggressive, ignorant, intellectual and confused. All these personas encounter Alcala, an otherworldly figure with jet black hair and faintly Oriental features.

She acts as the conscience of this group (and thus the world) who, though seeking rescue, are made aware of the plight of ‘these people’, the stick like figures who have materialized out of the desert and rescued them.

It is while on walkabout in the desert that the group becomes aware of what the Bushmen (and thus all men) are up against. The local authorities arrive in a 4x4 and, ignoring the group, immediately seize the Bushman, accusing him of the attack/murder of Snook. When the Bushman responds, he is shot on the spot and falls dead, in the dust. This confirms Alcala’s appeals against man’s inhumanity to man in the Kalahari Thirstland.

As a result of this attack, the group return to the derelict craft (Snook’s helicopter) and it is resurrected, and two missions are undertaken. The first is to infiltrate the inner sanctum of the mine, at Orapa, and procure incriminating documents which can then be used for a PR campaign against them. This is what Alcala calls ‘acting against the Empire’.
The second mission is more direct, and concludes the novel. It starts where all individuals finally come together to contribute in their various capacities towards the rescue of the dwindling humanity (of the Bushman) in the desert.

The rescue artifice is suggested through the bambi (an orange balloon like structure capable of holding many tons of water) which is raised in the final chapter, and floats under the giant helicopter and dragged into the heat of the desert, in search of surviving Bushman.*

It’s a suggestive, existentialist story where not much happens externally, but much transformation takes place inwardly.

*Because the Botswana government has tried to evict the Bushman, the few sources of water in the desert have been covered in concrete or rendered unusable to discourage the resettlement of desperate vagrants.

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