The Genes of Isis by Justin Newland
Genre: Epic Fantasy
Akasha is a precocious young girl with dreams of motherhood. She lives in a fantastical world where most of the oceans circulate in the aquamarine sky waters.
Before she was born, the Helios, a tribe of angels from the sun, came to Earth to deliver the Surge, the next step in the evolution of an embryonic human race. Instead they spawned a race of hybrids and infected humanity with a hybrid seed.
Horque manifests on Earth with another tribe of angels, the Solarii, to rescue the genetic mix-up and release the Surge.
Akasha embarks on a journey from maiden to mother and from apprentice to priestess then has a premonition that a great flood is imminent. All three races – humans, hybrids and Solarii – face extinction.
With their world in crisis, Akasha and Horque meet, and a sublime love flashes between them. Is this a cause of hope for humanity and the Solarii? Or will the hybrids destroy them both? Will anyone survive the killing waters of the coming apocalypse?
Sometimes when I sit alone and the night draws in like a curtain of fine black soot, my skin becomes ultra-sensitive. I can feel the slight vibrations of a shadow, or detect a passing wraith vainly seeking its way home. Each nerve fibre develops its own echo, so as the feeling travels from my fingertips, through the palm, along the forearm, then flashes through the scapula, it culminates in a resounding crescendo in the caverns of my soul.
Stillness ushers in this state, a strange quiescence that comes from afar. It is as if I were afloat in the midst of a great galaxy, where the sound of the millions of years hums in the inner chambers of my mind like a gentle but mysterious symphony.
When I touch its panorama, I see with my own eyes, but in a way subtly different to normal vision. I watch with other eyes. Other eyes, how is that possible? There is only me, isn't there? But there is something else, an entity, that sees through my eyes, that sees what I see. How can this be? That I can see? That the other can be? Yet I tell you it is so.
They are the Eyes of the Watchers... My name is Akasha I am mother of you all. You are the children of angels. And this is our story.
JUSTIN NEWLAND writes historical, fantasy and speculative fiction with a supernatural bent.
His first novel, The Genes of Isis (Matador, 2018), is an epic fantasy set under Ancient Egyptian skies.
His second novel, The Old Dragon's Head (Matador), is a historical fantasy set in Old China and is due out in November 2018.
His work in progress is a historical novel set in Prussia during the Enlightenment in the 1760’s.
His stories add a touch of the supernatural to history and deal with the existential themes of war, religion, evolution and the human’s place in the universe.
He lives with his partner in plain sight of the Mendip Hills in Somerset, England.
What drew me to the stories of Ancient Egypt?
I wanted to explore our human origins. Where did we come from? How did we get to where we are today? Why are things as they are? I wanted to conceive a story that offered the discerning reader a different entry point to these age-old questions. Inevitably, it led me to Ancient Egypt, the world’s earliest recorded historical culture.
As the oldest, Egypt civilisation influenced everything that followed: the first in any field always does. That’s why Egypt is known as the ‘Mother and Father of all things’.
The Ancient Egyptians imagined their origins though creation myths, such as the myth of Isis. In it, Osiris, her husband, is murdered and has his dismembered body parts distributed all over Egypt. Isis gathers them together and miraculously brings him back to life. This is a story of life and death, procreation, rebirth and the struggle for power, all archetypal themes. It’s about genesis, because that’s what genes of Isis means.
Where did the Biblical flood fit into the story?
In the Book of Genesis, the flood lasted 40 days and nights. If so, how did all that water get up there in the first place? Here’s an utterance from the Ancient Egyptian Pyramid Texts: 'I shall cross the great lake in the sky and return home to my double on the sun.'
Not only does this moot a ‘lake in the sky’ but it suggests the Ancient Egyptians were beings from the sun or sun-folk.
More recently, Old Mother Shipton, a Yorkshire prophetess, coined her answer:
‘Beneath the water, men shall walk. Shall ride, shall sleep, shall even talk.'
What if the waters were already up there in the sky, causing the earth to shrink like a dried prune, leaving the remaining oceans on shallow sea beds?
This gave me the idea for the sky waters, an important element of the world of The Genes of Isis.
What drove you to expand these initial ideas into a full novel?
Legends from other ancient cultures mentioned cross-breeding between species, mixed genetics and hybrids. The apocryphal The Book of Enoch spoke of the Grigori or fallen angels who came to Earth and mated with 'the daughters of men,' spawning the Nephilim, an antediluvian race of giants. The Epic ofGilgamesh talked of strange beings such as fish-men who came ashore for the day and returned to the sea at night.
What if these fallen angels were sun-folk who manifested in human form and settled in Ancient Egypt, as suggested by the Pyramid Texts? What if antediluvian genetics were unstable, in that the bindings that prevented successful inter-species crossbreeding had become loosened, spawning mixed genetic creatures and humans with animal heads?
This was the germ of the idea for the novel: an alternative genesis of the human race.
Interwoven with these ideas were esoteric concepts such as the akashic record and the astral body. The akashic record is conceived of as a compendium of thoughts, events and emotions encoded in a numinous plane of existence. From this, I derived the name of the novel's heroine, Akasha, a Sanskrit word meaning aether or atmosphere. The astral body is a personal spirit entity which can leave a person during sleep, travel through the vast numinous corridors of the akashic record and in so doing re-connect to the history of any person or event from any previous epoch. This is what Edgar Cayce, an American mystic, claimed to have done.
Other sources included Doris Lessing's Shikastra which speculated on how humans may have lived in the time before recorded history. The name Samlios, where the initial action of the novel unfolds, is taken from Gurdjieff's Beelzebub's Tales to his Grandson.
All this nourished my fascination for the supernatural and ancient times.
How did you build a narrative and characters around the ingredients gathered from your knowledge of Ancient Egypt?
With two sources, one Biblical and one Ancient Egyptian, I needed two protagonists, one human, the other angelic or sun-folk, whom I called the Solarii. I envisaged the embryonic human race as blue-blooded, gentle folk whereas the Solarii were drawn as red-blooded and severe. A comparison of opposites yielded a girl and boy, young and old, Akasha and Horque. Thus the main characters took shape.
When I started work on the novel, I began with the idea and a storyline. The characters emerged from the plot. Sometimes my imagination revealed things about them, like what they carried in their pockets, their physical characteristics, their character. I found them crouching behind the plot lines, emerging out of the shadows of the narrative and in the great halls of the unconscious (in dreams).
What haunted you throughout the process?
Looking into pre-history, there was a sense that I was peering into a dark timeless abyss, where sometimes, as Nietzsche predicted, the abyss stared back. That was unnerving, especially as most of what I was researching had no solid facts on which anyone agreed. But it did leave plenty of room for the imagination to roam.
The final word is the haunting saying: Egypt knows you, but do you know the Egypt in you?
If you want to know more, you know where to look.
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