Bearers of the Sun
Matt Hartman is a freelance editor and cataloguer, running Hartman Cataloguing, Editing and Indexing Services.
Science fiction, battle scenes, political intrigue, cold war history — Chris Foster combines these disparate ingredients in a delightful first novel that deserves wide distribution and readership. Four “sun-beings” are “incarnated” on the Earth in 1935, when the planet is on the threshold of war. In their human “dress,” they take the identities of four people: a Russian soldier, a young woman, a New England college student, and a British youth. A fifth sun-being has preceded them to Earth and has already started the process to which the other four will be dedicated, the process of inculcating a spirit of oneness in human beings; a sense of a common destiny and consciousness which will make war and hatred vanish forever.
Certainly not a new message or philosophy, is it? But Foster has the ability to tell a simple story with a refreshing and an open wit — to tell it, indeed, in language as suitable for a 12-year-old as for an adult reader. Bearer of the Sun is that rare and valuable gem, a juvenile novel that transcends its genre. Basically, two elements make the book a success. First is the sweetness and the purity of the characters. What good people! What heroes! But believable all the same in the context of the plot. Second, Foster achieves verisimilitude through his well-developed sense of place; the action moves from the Siberian steppes to London to New England and to Washington, D.C., and at each stop there is Foster naming streets and rivers, describing the weather, the customs, the food. Remarkable — and it works.
As events wind down to the climax (nothing less than the Cuban missile crisis of 1962), the four protagonists are thrust together in, for all its improbability, a scenario as realistic as a black-and-white newsreel. Will the powers of the sun win out, or will the Earth destroy itself? You know the answer — but what great fun in the finding out. Highly recommended.