Empty Cities of the Full Moon
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|Author||Howard V. Hendrix|
|Cover artist||John Jude Palencar|
|Genre||Science fiction novel|
|Publisher||Penguin Putnam Inc.|
|August 7, 2001|
|Media type||Print (Hardcover, Paperback)|
|Pages||441 pp (first edition, hardback)|
|ISBN||0-441-00844-5 (first edition, hardback)|
|Preceded by||Standing Wave|
The novel revolves around the near extinction of humanity by an artificial prion originally designed to help the mentally ill but which becomes a shamanistic pandemic of madness, shape-shifting and death. There are 2 plots-lines which each follow the same set of characters before and after this near extinction.
Explanation of the novel's title
The title of the novel comes from both the correlation between the pandemic's symptoms and the full moon, and that the pandemic effectively emptied the cities.
The novel opens in 1999 with a car accident occurring in parallel universes. In Universe A, the universe in which Hendrix's previous novel Better Angels occurs, the accident is avoided allowing 3 of the major characters in that novel to be born. However, in Universe A Prime the accident does occur and the resulting deaths prevent those characters from being born. The 3 characters are brothers Jiro and Seiji Ansel Yamaguchi, and their cousin John Drinan.
Years later in 2032 the process of Jiro's transcendence, which occurs at the end of Better Angels, results in John being thrown from Universe A to Universe A Prime. Empty Cities of the Full Moon takes place in Universe A Prime after this.
Year 2032 (pre-human extinction)
When John is thrown between universes he quickly discovers that there is no record of his existence. The trauma of this event causes John to lose himself in depression. After meeting Mark Fornash, John en-rolls himself in a clinical trial of an experimental artificial prion based cure for mental illness, created by Tomoko Fukuda.
Soon a drumming and dancing mania begins to sweep the globe, causing a large and increasing portion of the population to drop out of their societies. Due to his interest in shamanism Mark Fornash is the first person to recognize the manias as a single phenomenon patterned after shamanistic practises, and to predict it progression from drumming and dancing to visions, shape-shifting, soul-flying and death.
The story follows the progress of the disease through the view points of these characters, as well as: Simon Lingham, ex-husband of Tokomo, and World Health Organization investigator; Sister Vena, a nun in Calcuta who observes extreme stigmata in patients in last stages of the pandemic; Leira Losaba, a police lieutenant in Johannesburg who investigates a series of murders involving shape-shifted people; Cameron Spires, one of the survivors of the car accident at the beginning of the novel, an eccentric billionaire with interests in human longevity and long-term survival.
As the pandemic progresses Cameron eventually organizes a conference to pool research, which brings all of the major character together. The pandemic appears to be related to the Tokomo's prion's, but the extreme effects can not be explained. As madness and death consume the world, Cameron uses his enormous wealth to create a bolt-hole in the Bahamas and to bring all of the major characters to safety. However, before Cameron departs to his island he holds a final tele-conference with some powerful allies, who have died but been recorded in a powerful computer system. This system is the "Gödelian Non-standard Optimized Market Evolution Systems" or GNOMES. This organization Tetragammaton and these characters (Dr. Vang, Michael Dalke, and Martin Kong) have appeared in previous Hendrix novels involved in the long-term survival of humanity through the creation of mind-machine interfaces. This conversation reveals that Tetragammaton, was involved in the creation of the pandemic but that it has gone out of control. Dalke and Kong claim that the GNOMES were ultimately responsible for creating the pandemic as a complete defence against extinction and by orders of mysterious entity the Allesseh. The Allesseh is a massive consciousness at the centre of the galaxy, described in Hendrix's novel Better Angels.
Year 2065 (post-human extinction)
The pandemic has resulted in the near-extinction of humanity. Some of the survivors were fully resistant to the pandemic and have remained human, called Oldfolk or Urfolk, and some were partially resistant have become Werfolk having some of the madness, drumming, dancing, and shape shifting of the pandemic. Over the past 30 years Cameron Spires has perfected a longevity treatment, created a dolphin-human hybrid species called the Merfolk, kept the islands strictly isolated from the Werfolk, prevented further research into the pandemic and maintained himself as the unquestioned 'founder-ruler'. This has driven all of the major characters, except Simon Lingham, back to the mainland in search of answers. Simon Lingham, leaves for the same reasons soon after the story begins.
Cameron's granddaughter Trillia Spires and her lover Ricardo, soon follow him when Ricardo is found to have signs of the plague, and exiled per Cameron's rules. They hope to catch up with Simon in New York City and to discover a cure for Ricardo. Their journey takes them up the American east coast, encountering all of the major characters of the novel who are each dealing with the post-pandemic world in their own ways. Each character, except Leire who has become a Werfolk-hating warlord, either joins the group or offers some aid.
By the time the group reaches New York, Ricardo's symptoms are entering the final stages of the pandemic. Ricardo's plague induced vision lead them to where Simon has connected himself to GNOMES. Simon is learning from and changing the GNOMES. He reveals Cameron's involvement in not preventing the plague, and Cameron arrives with a security team, claiming that he engineered the plague so that he could re-make humanity in his image. However, Ricardo dies and transcends during this conflict preparing the way for John to return to his universe and transmitting full knowledge of the works of the pandemic to every human on the planet. This final knowledge will allow the three types of human, Urfolk, Werfolk, and Merfolk, to choose their own destinies and control the effects of the pandemic. The group exiles Cameron and returns to the Bahamas to begin the process of re-building their world.
- 2001, United States of America, Penguin Putnam Inc. ISBN 0-441-00844-5, Pub August 7, 2001, Hardcover
- 2001, United States of America, Ace Trade ISBN 0-441-00937-9, Pub August 6, 2002, Paperback