This is an unusual fiction book that assumes the guise of science fiction, while being altogether directed elsewhere. In a final evaluation, and like all original works of the mind, results difficult to encase into a single genre. The premise is that one day in our times (not twenty or one hundred years in the future), to be precise a few years back, bright spherical objects from outer space descended into Earth’s atmosphere and distributed themselves throughout land and water surfaces with no distinguishable pattern that humans could discern. The objects in questions, moreover, are impervious to any physical operations attempted on them by humans; and so they stand still, untouchable monuments to mortal futility in the face of immanence. No evidence of passengers or controllers is present, and the spherical travelers’ presentation of themselves is nothing else except monolithic.
Once the primary facts of the story have been revealed, none of the typical fascination with new types of organisms, languages and ‘stories’ are possible. What the author of the book cleverly achieves is a simply argued perspective on human behavior, for the story, then, consists of how humans around the globe react to ‘the arrival’. The direction in which the narrative lenses is directed is inwards, but in a light tone, casually, so that while the reader is aware of what is going on ‘behind the scenes’, the story makes one only gloss over what would otherwise become layman rants on human nature. What we see portrayed first is our species’ desire for the unknown and mysterious to be somehow made manifest. The relevant question is posed by Larsson in regards to our fascination with extraterrestrials: what is it that we really want or need from them?
Narrated in the first person, the author soon introduces us to an underhanded comedy as he relates how first encounters, but especially how governments handle the appearance of the spheres. Foreseeably, political and cultural attitudes would be revealed in the way that each locality carried themselves in the presence of the extraterrestrial objects. Again, Larsson avoids the trap of an overt critique, or a taking sides in politics, letting human stupidity run the show, no matter what the avowed stance of each group is. For all its simplicity of style and even a manner of naivete in story-telling, The Spheres subtly hides layers of discourse, pleasantly safeguarding a personal and sincere tone that, in its own way, transcends ideologies political and secular, and lands us in the realm of a mysticism of the most unassuming nature.
The authorities did not know what to do, so they were throwing these “remarks” around. Nobody was responsible and suddenly nobody had any authority.
Once discovered, the police were called in. They drew their guns and aimed at the thing as they probably did not know what else todo.
Among the highlights of overly modern human behavior is the developed need for a certain kind of person to be recognized in any way. ‘Fakers’ appear around the world, people claiming to have had a special kind of contact with the spheres, usually translating to any of a variety of types of religious experiences. While at first they got what they wanted, these people were soon after exposed. This kind of behavior reaches its climax with a series of suicides purposedly committed in the vicinity of spheres, a trend apparently set by an attention-seeker in Brazil.
Exploitation, in all forms including tourism, becomes a discernible theme, as merchants and opportunists of all stripes see in the commotion and sensation that the spheres cause yet another way of reaping a profit. Poachers in Africa, North America and the ocean soon realize that animals are attracted by the spheres and carnage ensues. Artists and writers also rode on the sensation of the spheres, the first with their usual orgy of egos, the latter with the usual drivel of cheap narratives that infest popular literature.
Tourism and also crime were in their prime during the first three weeks or so, after that there was a decline in tourism but not in crime.
Suspicious events and behaviors, especially coming from the military establishments of powerful countries, surrounded the spheres, some of which did not correspond to any known constant in what was known about the spheres. This was also true of any group or organization that could mask themselves, and as the narrator is a simple character in the story, the shroud is not removed, permitting the reader to identify themselves within like situations.
The spheres’ presence was giving them a diversion so that their illegal activities could continue unnoticed by many.
The central theme may be the hardest to grasp but it is also the most clearly stated. It is clearer for those who have tasted something of what the author is portraying through the adventure on which the main character embarks. At the same time, it is obscured by the words used themselves, and by the fact that these only point but do not embody or even communicate what is hinted at: purpose, meaning, significance, objectifying words for what can only be lived.
“Inner experience cannot be recreated —no universal (communication, truth, values) — this is the essence of Nihilism. But one can allude to inner experience and induce others to follow a path for as long as they can and as muchas they are inspired. For those who are already thoughtful and perceptive, guideposts can be left, or breadcrumbs.” —Brett Stevens