Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Bats of the Republic

by Zachary Thomas Dodson
451 pgs

Bats of the Republic is a remarkable book--it's a descent story, but the book itself is amazing! Let me explain. Zachary Thomas Dodson is a book designer and co-founder of Featherproof Books. He obviously has a real passion for what physical books are, and what they can be.

Bats of the Republic is his first novel. He both wrote it and designed it. I could spend a lot of time trying, and failing, to describe the book itself. Fortunately, I don't need to. Dodson himself demonstrates some of the unique attributes of the book while describing it in this video.

The book consists of two parallel storylines. One of them takes place in a 19th century Republic of Texas. The other, in a dystopian future 300 years later. In the first, Zadock Thomas, a naturalist, is sent by his prospective father-in-law on a quest to find General Irion and deliver a sealed letter. Along  the way he describes and illustrates a variety of increasingly unusual forms of wildlife.

In the second storyline, America has collapsed into seven city-states, in which secrets are forbidden, the government watches and listens to everything, and every document and correspondence is recorded and archived. Zeke Thomas, a descendent of Zadock has inherited a sealed envelope from his grandfather, a former Senator. It's a letter that has not been archived by the government and that comes with the enigmatic warning "Do not open" written on it.

I didn't find either of the storylines very compelling. They're both interesting, but that's the highest praise I can give them. But as I mentioned earlier, the actual physical book is fascinating. It, by itself, makes the book worth reading.


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