Travels in Elysium
Young Nicholas Pedrosa has left behind a promising though boring career to assist at an archaeological dig in Greece. Serving as apprentice to Marcus Huxley is nothing like he imagined, though. His predecessor died mysteriously, the Greek authorities view the dig with suspicion, their own camp is divided, and no one is entirely sure what they are looking for. The Plato-obsessed Huxley himself is either a fraud, a visionary, or a madman. Figuring out which may be a matter of life or death for Nick, and as they dig deeper into the volcanic ash that obscures the past inhabitants of the island, rumors of Atlantis abound…but whether it is island or metaphor, no one is entirely sure.
William Azuski’s Travels in Elysium is a vision presented through a haze of uncertainty, as Nicholas struggles to understand the people around him even as he strives to create his own identity. The story is philosophically complex as it moves through Nicholas questioning himself, his companions, and his very existence, but fragmentary in the details, as Nick’s experience of the world is often presented in static images, sentences heavy and rich with things and places but lacking in verbs. At times, this choice of style is distracting, but at the same time it also emphasizes the blending of past and present as the team digs down into history, granting a sense of timelessness to the world that the characters move through. It forces the reader to question where in time the characters are, while Nicholas and Huxley, in turn, start to become disconnected from the present. The result is a well-written, complex and thought-provoking read.