Reviews for The Fourth Beginning
Fun, intrigue and lasting memory
I found this book captivating on several levels. First, through the experiences of an individual man and woman, Adam and Eve Smith, it gives, ‘flesh and blood’ to the universal issues it takes on.
Secondly, the author calls on a host of mythical or historic characters to explore a number of existential questions. .
Thirdly, the story teller, himself a major character in the sage, takes Adam and Eve Smith on a fantastical journey in their quest to find answers to all their questions, including why their young daughter died. This journey includes witnessing the three previous great beginnings; matter arising from nothing; life arising from inanimate matter and consciousness arising in human existence. And it looks forward to a Fourth Beginning.
All this, in a style of writing, full of wit and curiosity relating to the meaning of words and phrases and the metaphors we use every day.
I’ve never read anything quite like it before.
24/10/13 George Bekes
A really good read
This is a fast-moving story of adventure, which is fun to read. It’s full of interesting information and ideas that really challenge the reader to think. The action moves forward mainly through the lively dialogue of the engaging characters. In particular Uncle Rambler and his slightly intellectually challenged nephew Numpty are especially endearing. The story starts in an ordinary enough setting, Harrow, the M3 and Fleet Services but quickly takes off for the Garden of Eden, Prometheus lair on Mount Strobilos and the birth of the universe, life and human consciousness. Quite a journey, all of it impeded by the malevolent Nick Peters and his shapeshifting sidekick Grimrose. It’s not all epic adventure and serious ideas although it has to be said that organised religion comes in for almost as harsh a battering as militant reductionist atheism. It actually has a much lighter touch than you might think. I even laughed out loud at some of the almost lunatic vagaries of the plot. It’s well worth a read and the five stars I’ve given it. It’s a long time since I’ve read a novel I liked as much. And my friends and I are still arguing about some of the ideas the book explores.
14/09/13 Lambro Antoniou
The Fourth Beginning by Paul Georgiou
Panarc Publishing paperback, £9.99
WHEN you pick up a book which you are told is ‘genre-busting’ you can never be sure what is going to hit you, especially when it is also a debut novel.
I mean to say, does it bust through all the genres and create its own or is it a sci-fi, quest fantasy, involving an intergalactic detective who has a time-traveling romance with an historical figure?
It seemed the only way to find out was to read it - so I did.
That is when I found I was reading a cross between Pilgrim’s Progress, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Lord of the Rings,Dante’s Inferno, a few episodes of Doctor Who and the Beatles’Magical Mystery Tour and guess what? I loved it.
That’s right - I loved it. I didn’t expect to, I am not sure if I even wanted to (especially as it was so well-hyped that you thought it could not live up to the advance publicity).
It begins with a journey, or at least it begins with two people about to start a journey.
Adam and Eve Smith have been asking the big question ‘WHY?’ after their daughter died in an accident. She was hit by a falling tree branch after the tree was struck by lightning.
Now a man called the Storyteller has persuaded them to go and seek the answer by going on the journey of a lifetime. On it they intend to question if God exists, if so why did their daughter die? They want to know how they came to be, why things happen, who created the Universe and all the other questions we ask ourselves.
Their companions will be the Storyteller, of course, their golden retriever Luke (whose voice can be heard by the Storyteller) and the driver of their transport (transport in this sense being a campervan) a neurotic chocolate-bar munching oddity called Gwoat.
Got it so far? No? Well I was still not sure. I began to think it might be really twee when I realized the couple seeking the answer to the creation of Man were called Adam and Eve. Problems on that one were knocked on the head when the couple explain that their parents independently chose their Biblical names and they just happened to meet and marry. After all I am sure there is a Nicholas married to an Alexandra and a Peter to a Wendy. As for me, well I’m Robin and my wife is Marion, imagine the winks, smirks and giggles when we tell people that?
As the journey begins they meet two hitchhikers, Rambler and his somewhat autistic nephew Numpty. They also get into the Garden of Eden, which just happens to appear in the middle of Hampshire, and meet God and his Heavenly host ranging from the six-winged Gabriel to the more mundane two-winged Rodney and Derek. It is the last two who give an explanation of the Creation and the early days of the world and of man.
This God is very Old Testament and is about to have them hung, drawn and quartered but they manage to escape that one and end up in the Caucasus with the Titan Prometheus (I said there was time travel) who has his own account of mankind’s creation.
As well as all this they have to face a gang of people who want them to stop asking questions and just accept things for what they are. These include a shape shifter who tries to clamp their vehicle, a couple of hitchhiking murderers (not Rambler and Numpty) and a smooth-talking character called Nick.
When it comes to consideration of the writing it is hard to define whether this is well written or not, I mean Numpty throws in pedantic comments about grammar and other matters throughout. The book does make you want to read on, even if at times you know what will happen next. The author looks into the deeply philosophical queries of mankind - who, why, what, how etc. - but handles it in a light-hearted and witty way. This is a satirical novel which does not treat the reader as a dimwit.
If you expect to find the answer here then forget it. All the answers from all the viewpoints turn up at some time but who is to know if any of them are right? Maybe we are just living a dream.
With a debut novel like this Mr Gee will be hard put to go one better next time.
Paul Gee was born and raised in London and read English at New College, Oxford, where he later picked up an M.Phil in Modern English studies. He has spent time working in the media, including time at Visnews (now Reuters TV). There he developed the first media analysis computer program which spawned his own company. He has written poetry and short stories but this is his first novel. He lives with his wife inside the New Forest in Hampshire.
30th August, 2013 Robin’s Reviews
Fundamentals and fun
This is one for those who like meeting fundamentals head on in their fiction and having fun with it. Think of a real place (Hampshire around Ringwood), a normal couple haunted by a real question (why did their child lose her life in a meaningless accident?) and then expect anything to happen and the oddest people to turn up, some of them not people at all in the normal sense. An ill-assorted party comes together and sets off on trips through time and space in a rickety camper van. Their adventures include a meeting with a domineering and unlikeable Old Testament God, another with Prometheus away in his mountain fastness still rooting for the human cause, a look at the birth of the universe, and then increasingly dangerous and treacherous battles with an agent of the obscure, highly bureaucratised powers set on thwarting their attempts to solve the question of what it all means. For that, no less, is the perilous quest on which they are engaged and which almost brings them to grief, with a gripping climax coming in the final pages in a sinisterly transformed version of their Hampshire home as the elusive fourth beginning of the title eventually takes shape. Throughout adventures tumble one into other, inset with jokes and reflections about language and thought and sharp-edged arguments about the limitations, not to say uselessness, of traditional ways, religious and scientific, of seeing time, the world and human history. None of which slows the pace down. Everything is humorous, serious and exciting at the same time. Like Italo Calvino's fables, this is a novel to enjoy being disconcerted by and one that will simultaneously reinvigorate your imagination and ideas.
01/10/13 Richard Jack
A highly entertaining and thought-provoking page turner, the Fourth Beginning takes the reader on a journey to explore some of life's greatest questions, mysteries and challenges. It is packed full of adventure and moves at a good pace, crucially punctuated with moments of contemplation for both the characters and the reader. It is wonderfully written with concise, vivid imagery and a good measure of wit. A tale that had me smiling, chuckling and gasping to myself, with the odd tear-jerking moment too.
We don't often get chance to reflect on some of life's unanswered questions but this book affords the reader a rare opportunity to do just that in a fun and fantastical way.
I look forward to reading Paul Gee's next creation!
A new approach to a very old subject
Each time you come back to it your mind is further stretched and you change your perspective. An excellent read.
12 August 2013 DS
I can highly recommend this book for all people that enjoy a thought provoking book that keeps you thinking well after the last page is turned.
23 August 2013 Lindsay Perrins
This journey is totally absorbing; igniting your imagination and making you question everything. A totally new style of story telling that frees your imagination. Genuinely one of the best books I've read: interesting, exciting and totally absorbing. Brilliant on so many levels. Please write a sequel.
12 January, 2014, Jessica Cartwight