What if a virus, created by people of malign intent, developed consciousness? And you were the doctor given that information, through unorthodox, thoroughly unscientific channels? Talking to spirits.
Nerida and Mari are lesbians with a good life together. They travel all over Australia, visiting Indigenous communities and mining towns for work and adventure. But they have a secret life.
Mari has grown into a shaman. She goes into trance and channels ghosts: intelligent, passionate, disgruntled spirits who are trying to save the world. They care about Gaia. They offer new thoughts about reincarnation. It's all New Age and magical. But now Nerida anticipates trouble.
When they assert that a virus has developed its own consciousness, a turn of events unanticipated by its creators, the conflict between these ideas and her scientific beliefs threatens to overwhelm Nerida. She feels compelled to share the channelled messages of the ancient beings.
The Earth Spirits resonate with her Aboriginal spirituality, long-buried under her scientific education. She doesn't know who she will become if she accepts that what the Beings say, though. And who in the world will believe her?
Saving lives is Nerida's duty. She's bound to evidence and medical guidelines. Allowing disembodied spirit voices to guide her, Nerida risks her relationships, her career, and her sanity.
What happens when a Druid, a Native American Medicine Man and a Gay Tudor dandy reveal that life after death is just the beginning? When conflicts and mind-expansion lead us on a strange and inspiring path to knowledge?
This is the first novel published in the Aedgar Wisdom series.
Then the spirits start warning the women against Covid vaccines. Mitayn’s novel combines travelogue updates of the women’s journeys and quarantine updates of what life was like in Western Australia during the pandemic, both of which prove compelling, especially thanks to the warm central relationship between Nerida and Mari. Also compelling, at times, are the novel’s lengthy colloquies with spirits who inveigh against humanity’s urge to travel for no reason and to prioritize “paper with numbers on it” over all else, especially the Earth, the life on it, the poor, and anything “with consciousness.”
But the drama in the novel’s final third centers on Nerida’s uncertainty about the safety and efficacy of vaccines. The spirit Aedgar warns against them, arguing that the medical establishment will subject the populace to a battery of "so-called" vaccines that will change our DNA. It’s disappointing that transcendent communication with a spirit sounds so much like contemporary anti-vax campaigns. Ultimately, Nerida does not become an anti-vaccine crusader, but the book’s prolonged focus on vaccine hesitancy–and Aedgar’s insistence that Covid was “created” as a “weapon”–will limit its audience to readers already interested in this perspective.
Takeaway: A spiritual exploration of Australian life during Covid gives way to extended consideration of anti-vax views.
Great for fans of: Judy Nunn’s Spirits of the Ghan, Harvey Arden’s Dreamkeepers: A Spirit-Journey into Aboriginal Australia.
Design and typography: B
Marketing copy: B-
The Conscious Virus by Miki Mitayn is a quirky and incredibly unique story that pits spirituality against science in a riveting adventure, featuring a multidimensional, extraordinary protagonist. With Mari and Nerida’s utterly unusual lives, readers will find themselves drawn into mysticism and spiritual wisdom explored in relation to the afterlife. This is a novel with a plot that is stunningly imagined and intelligently executed.
Miki Mitayn’s “The Conscious Virus” speaks from the past, the present, and the future. Primarily set in various towns and cities located within rural Australia, the novel mixes elements of spirituality, especially relating to traditional Aboriginal beliefs, with medical knowledge and scientific skepticism.
The main character, Nerida, finds herself wedged between the scientific/medical world- concerned with hard facts and data- and her private experiences with the spiritual world- a world explored purely through personal experiences, and whispers throughout the ages. Nerida’s inner dialogue explores the contradictions between these two drastically opposing sets of beliefs, trying to wrap her head around a conceivable middle ground.
Set primarily during the initial coronavirus outbreak, “The Conscious Virus” shares insight into the experiences of medical workers fighting the virus front line. It also serves as a cautionary tale- warning the reader of the detrimental results of the current trajectory for humanity, while also expressing a quiet optimism for our possible future.
A story expressed through empathy, lived experiences and thoughtful dialogue between varying characters, “The Conscious Virus” is profoundly relevant for 2021. It challenges the reader’s beliefs and provides insight into what we know about our world as it is now (or rather, what we think we know of it), and tells a story aching to be heard.
I genuinely really enjoyed the book, and once I got to the meat of it it developed a very addictive quality.
'Thrilled to finally have a hard copy of this book - a very funny/serious/sci-fi/pro-Aboriginal/pro-queer/anti-mining novel - part of a series, where we drop into it in the middle. Ancient wisdom, modern problem solving, reality, fantasy plus I learned a little German.... Kindle wasn't enough for me.
Go for more Miki Mitayn.'
Further reviews of TCV have been positive and encouraging.
Scott Taylor, editor at Chanticleer International Reviews, gave it 5/5 stars.
'The lives and work of Aboriginal people often take center stage, as Nerida – an Aboriginal woman herself – understands the unique challenges they face. Nerida, Mari, and the spirits tell an engaging and deeply thoughtful story about LGBT+ identity, racist systems, and how entire groups of people are pushed down by the interests of the rich and powerful. Mitayn takes none of these issues lightly but instead gives them the time and consideration that they deserve.
Jumping between past, present, and future, The Conscious Virus creates not just a compelling image of the modern world – but also of how the future might play out depending on whether people face their trials with wisdom and compassion – or something so pointless as greed.'
Read more at the link below.
Looking for the electronic flats to arrive.
It's an exciting time. I'm grateful to be able to do this from my home in the Australian desert.
The Conscious Virus is a finalist in the Chanticleer International Book Awards, in the category of Paranormal/Supernatural Fiction.
This is thrilling. Thanks to our readers for this encouragement.
Prizes are awarded at Chanti's International Conference in June.