Argentinian literary star Pola Oloixarac’s visionary new novel races from the world of 19th-century science to an ultra-surveilled near future, exploring humanity’s quest for knowledge and control, and leaping forward to the next steps in human evolution.
Canary Islands, 1882: Caught in the 19th-century mania for scientific classification, explorer and plant biologist Niklas Bruun researches Crissia pallida, a species alleged to have hallucinogenic qualities capable of eliminating the psychic limits between one human mind and another.
Buenos Aires, 1983: Born to a white Argentinian anthropologist and a black Brazilian engineer, Cassio comes of age with the Internet and becomes a prominent hacker, riding the wave of transformations brought about by distributed networks, mass surveillance, and new flows of globalized capital.
The southern Argentinian techno-hub of Bariloche, 2024: A research group works on a project that will allow the Ministry of Genetics to track every movement of the country’s citizens without their knowledge or consent, using sensors that identify DNA at a distance. But the new technology contains within it the seeds of a far more radical transformation of human life and civilization. In a novel of towering ambition, Oloixarac’s complexly intertwining stories reveal the power that resides in the world’s most deeply shadowed spaces.
This wild anthropological ride blends political satire, psychedelic sexuality, and cyberpunk themes through three intertwining stories. Spanning the history of three separate eras of Argentina and surrounding areas, the novel connects 19th-century Niklas Bruun's explorations into hallucinogenic plant Crissia pallida; the emergence of the internet, anarchistic hackers, and the global economy in 1980s; and a near-future ambitious project from the Argentinian Ministry of Genetics that seeks to transform humanity at a base level through the use of mass surveillance. Though the collected text offers lengthy (and often mocking) commentary on the concerning direction of global politics, each story comes across as wildly disconnected despite an attempt at interconnectivity. With each character's circumstances throughout history given an evocative and flowery description, the bigger message is often bogged down and left to the reader to parse through with long-forgotten context. Even for readers with fluency in anthropology and shadow politics, this book will bewilder and leave plenty open to question.