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|The Parallel Man
by Richard Purtill
Published by DAW, 1984
Suggested by: Elliot Hanowski
Purtill is a Catholic professor of philosophy, and a scholar of Tolkien and Lewis you can learn more here.
This is a short book, but the story is not at all straightforward. Prince Casmir is a typical fantasy hero, and when we first meet him he is fighting to save a beautiful princess from a fire-breathing dragon. Before long, though, a hole opens in the sky. Several futuristic people haul Casmir into their world and we learn that this is in fact a work of science fiction. Casmir is a clone, who has been put into a historical simulation so he can be studied. He escapes from his rescuers and heads off into a puzzling high-tech world, using his wits and natural charisma to survive. Before too long we learn that he was not the only clone to be made of the original person, and the story starts to become even more complicated.
Casmir's adventures are entertaining and unpredictable, and Purtill explores issues of determinism, leadership, and morality. The religious elements are fairly minimal. The question of free will is hotly contested throughout the novel. Further, Casmir's original incarnation was well-known for his moral rectitude and Catholic piety, and Casmir tries to live up to this standard. (July, 2006)
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