Atlas got off to a bad start with me. It spouts off some Junk about how all stories are the same; they express some human commonality blah blah. I was offended both as a person who enjoys stories and one who writes them. Obviously the reverse is true, right? Does it not slight every story, including this one, to think they’re all different dressing on the same idea? Credit to Atlas for slowly winning me over.
At first it seemed like there were a dozen narratives and none of them have anything to do with each other. Then the irresistible thrill and challenge of solving a puzzle took over. When next I reassessed my general like / dislike I found myself engrossed in each little story. The offensive opening acted as the key, and I had to, grudgingly, agree with the claim.
I can see the potential turn off, though. For being all about the human condition, none of the stories feel real. They all take place on Earth, sure, but have a weightlessness to them. The only thing that matters is the Moral. Like a folktale or myth, everything feeds into the final lesson with such a hyper focus that there is nothing else but a condensed nugget of “truth”. And going through multiple climaxes was somewhat grating. Relieved somewhat by nobody being “safe”. The characters are instruments of the end message. So long as that’s served it doesn’t matter what happens to them.
The revealed Mysteries of the Universe aren’t going to astound. This is more touching celebration than breaking news. The connection between disparate narratives invites personal branching of the core idea. How important are stories to actual human loves? Deeply. And examining how personal favorites fit into this much larger Work is the loving send-off to this beautiful piece.