Imagine a band of super heroes who do not resort to violence. They’re pacifists from the planet Verne. They are also vegetarians, environmentalists and secular humanists.
Pit them against Rollo Ransom, a pot-bellied purveyor of fine meats from the planet Hel who believes in a vengeful God and a literal interpretation of the sacred text of his religion.
Place them on Jurassic Earth, where it appears likely that the voracious appetite of Rollo Ransom’s hunting dogs will exterminate a seemingly insignificant species of tiny, furry, four-legged creatures, and you have The Odd Body Vanity Squad, a science fiction fable suitable for ages twelve and up in which a fundamentalist’s verdict on the theory of evolution proves crucial to the future – or more properly, the origin – of the human race.
The boisterous bickering that arises between the creationists from Hel and the evolutionists from Verne revolves around possession of the Philosopher’s Stone, a mysterious new technology, which Rollo sees as a weapon in proselytizing for his god and which the Vernians begin to view as more consciousness than machine. When the Stone comes to the attention of corporate interests intent on galactic domination, Rollo must decide what he values most in a world as divided by entrenched ideologies as our own.
In the course of events that include lavish gourmet banquets, a harrowing dinosaur hunt, a pivotal conflict between father and son, budding romances and a climactic high-tech battle, Rollo evolves into a heroic figure prepared to set his own world right, while it becomes clear that the Vernians – graceful, child-like and pure of heart – will one day serve as the guardian angels of humankind.
More eco-fable than hard-core science fiction, as much political satire as adventure tale, The Odd Body Vanity Squad depicts a clash of cultures set in space that ultimately addresses our human quest for significance in an inconceivably vast universe and for kinship with all living things from the beginning to the end of time .
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