Blue Screen

The book’s back cover correctly proclaims, “Starr shines a new and illuminating light on one of Lewis’s most intriguing stories.” But the real life story of how the manuscript appeared out of nowhere two decades after Lewis’s death is as intriguing as Lewis’s fictional one. Starr clearly, carefully, and convincingly reveals that what Lewis scholars had previously believed about the story is largely inaccurate.

For Lewis fans, this is an amazing mystery not to be missed. Starr does a masterful job of not only guiding us, step-by-step, through the twists and turns of how this lost manuscript came to be found, he also does a wonderful job of untangling its possible meanings.

Only a Test

I don’t remember much of my early childhood. You can hardly blame me; it was over 170 years ago. All I remember are snippets and flashes. But I do remember one thing clearly: My mother and I fleeing from our tribe in a desperate bid to save my life. Hers was already forfeit.

We were a primitive culture by your standards. Our most advanced technology was woven baskets; our most advanced weapons were spears. We lived a nomadic existence as hunter-gatherers, traveling far and wide to keep up with fresh game. Our tribe was one of hundreds that roamed the Atlantic seafloor.

Oh yeah. I’m a mermaid. I probably should have mentioned that earlier.

I was four years old when the first of our tribe started to get sick. The disease quickly spread. Children seemed to be more resilient at first, but soon they, too, succumbed.

We weren’t doctors or scientists. We didn’t understand contagions. Epidemics were unknown to merfolk. Our shamans declared the sickness a punishment from the gods to those who were unworthy. But once the shamans themselves died, that theory seemed suspect. By the time I was five, most of our tribe had died. We heard tales from travelers that all the tribes were suffering the same fate.