Leonora Meriel deftly weaves together three separate stories in “The Unity Game,” so that all the characters become a part of the same world.
David, a new Wall Street banker, hungers to win the financial game. Money drives him.
“He’d made it. They’d all made it . . . on the fast track to power and politics. . . . There was a constant thrill of testosterone around the floor. We’re going to be the super-rich. We’re going to control the financial world. We are winning the game.”
Noœ-bouk and other beings with translucent skin and webbed hands and feet channel energy and communicate through thought. They do interplanetary work. Highly evolved, they laugh at a desire to be sent to a planet of emotional beings.
“On this triple lunar rise, during which it would carry out the final task assignment of its lifespan, the being allowed itself to be present within the pulse for a few inhalations longer than usual. Then it drew its consciousness to the surface, blinked its eyes open and shut, then open again. It raised its arms.”
In London, Sir Alisdair, 40 years a bencher, or one of the governing barristers of his professional society, garners respect from his colleagues. A fellow at New College, Oxford, he hungers for knowledge.
“Human law as a conscious product of wisdom. This is essentially the same as precedent. Building consciously on that which was already established as wise.”
While delivering this talk to his peers, he interrupts himself to ask a passing waitress to pass on his thanks to the chef, Charles. So, although he wears a cashmere coat and later walks toward a parking lot of Bentleys and Jaguars, he views himself as a humble human, nothing more. He continues:
“It all leads back to the most simple principles, and these do not change. It is what makes our legal system the most respected in the world. It is why people come flocking to England to seek justice, which they cannot find in their own countries.”
In an attempt to make sense of our existence, Meriel brings these three characters and worlds together. The worlds seem disparate and, therefore, there are one – or more - characters with which each reader can feel a kinship.
Cassie, David’s former girlfriend in Toronto, seems much like Belle, Scrooge’s former fiancée in “The Christmas Carol.” Both knew these men before they took money as their master.
Elspeth, Sir Alisdair’s granddaughter, returns to London after years of traveling around the world in search of herself. Her grandfather’s love brings her back. Still unsettled, she searches for contentment with no emotional attachment to possessions.
Meanwhile, Noœ-bouk experiences the new and alien desire to live.
“The specialist at the Cellular Genetic Centre had suggested an alternative. It could enter a vessel and prolong its lifespan until it chose to return to Home Planet. It could make a single, unexpected decision, after an existence which had been entirely planned out by Council members and development instructors, within the confines of expectation created by the planet’s philosophical architecture.
“It could make the first true choice of its life.”
As Socrates, Sir Alisdair’s main influence, chose death by swallowing hemlock, Noœ-bouk chooses life. But what of it is real? Are they merely chained to the wall of a cave, as Socrates preached and Plato wrote, looking at shadows of reality.
Duncan, a guide of Sir Alisdair, explains:
“It’s the unity game . . . And the point of the game? Its essence, I suppose, is to experience love in all its possible manifestations. To create every possible wild and magnificent expression of anything you can imagine. Good and bad, light and dark, just and unjust, simple and complex, single and manifold. Incarnate and spirit, in infinite dimensional variations. Every combination of energy. . .
“And in the end, to return. To bring all those experiences back together. To unity. To contract the pulse of life until it beats as one indescribably intense and compact kernel of everything that is. And then . . . Boom! . . . The game begins again.”
“The Unity Game” forces the reader to contemplate existence, which is a laudable accomplishment.