Best known for his science fiction novels, David Zindell gets personal this time with insights into how growing up as a Baby Boomer in the Cold War Era helped him learn to appreciate the beauty and bliss of being at one with the universe in rare moments he calls splendor.
His goal in writing the book is to define, explain, and expound on splendor and examine how to increase and extend its appearance in life. The drive toward transcendence over the material world and petty pursuits forms an essential expression of splendor, he writes. “In creating ourselves we become as gods participating in the fundamental purpose of the universe.”
Elegantly expressed and deeply philosophical, the book combines stories from the author’s life (e.g., childhood [and ongoing] fears of a nuclear explosion, near-fatal mountain climbing expedition, marital woes, parenthood challenges) with those of characters from his novels, including The Eros Project and Neverness. Fans of the author’s novels may appreciate these references to his previous books as welcome nuggets of insight, while newcomers to Zindell’s work might find them less relevant. His books are not the only sources cited, however. Many citations and quotations from works of literature, film, philosophers, civil rights activists, and others are sprinkled generously throughout the 439 pages to help the author prove his points. While undeniably erudite and interesting, the chapters are excessively lengthy.
Within these 13 chapters, beginning with “Childhood’s End” and concluding with “The Bright Infinity,” the contents remain a speculative scientific surprise that defy categorization. Fact, fiction, genres, and themes interweave themselves into a heady, meandering, nonlinear mix, so that readers explore the pages much like one of Zindell’s mountain climbing trips, not knowing what lies ahead of them with each step forward.
SPLENDOR, though a personal spiritual exploration to fully appreciate the beautiful inter-connectedness of life, may resonate with a wide audience because of its universal message of optimism.