Book Review: Genesis – Book 1 [Adam Exx] by Fraser Beath McEwing

June 24, 2012 by Alan Gold
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The story of humanity’s creation has been told since our first consciousness. Questions of where we came from, how we arrived and who or what were the agents of that arrival have mystified us since we became sentient beings…writes Alan Gold

Fraser Beath McEwing

Was it a god which created humanity or are we the results of a biological process of evolution which saw us climb down from the trees onto the grasslands and began to walk upright….you chose which you’d prefer to believe.

Even though the battle between the theology of religion and the science of evolution has largely been won by weight of quantitative and qualitative evidence, there are still those who are fighting a rear-guard action to instil God in the classroom with their notions of ‘creative design.’

So I’m not at all sure where Fraser Beath McEwing sits in the debate between creationists and evolutionists, though in the end of his book, he does hold out for mankind’s determinism rather than a deity’s dogmatism.

McEwing is a consummate fiction writer and his novel “Genesis” is a tour de force of fantasy and thrills, of romance and eschatology, but like his hero’s namesake in the first book of the Bible, Adam Exx is a soul in search of reality. Unlike biblical Adam’s helpmate, McEwing’s Eve is a beautiful Indian woman who may, or may not, be real.

Genesis is the story of a Sydney solicitor travelling to work by train one day when suddenly all motion and sensation stops. The train in plunged into silence, motionlessness and darkness, but instead of grumbles or screams from the passengers, they sit there in a death-like trance. Adam Exx, our hero, is the only one in the carriage who is cognizant and he struggles to understand why he alone is able to sense what’s happening even though he doesn’t understand it.

Wondering whether it’s his mental breakdown or an alternative reality in which he’s found himself, Adam searches, questions, and strives to understand the incredible incident in which time and space came to an end for a quarter of an hour, realizing soon that it’s not just his dilemma, but is a situation common to a handful of others.

Through clever writing and deft manipulation of plotlines and subplots, McEwing takes us into a world where beings with supernatural powers appropriating the guise of men and women are manipulating the human race as an intergalactic experiment.

In the hands of a lesser writer, this concept and its subsequent resolution could have been the stuff of cheap science fiction. But McEwing’s sophistication in character development (even when the characters are little more than simulacra), at timing, landscape, and the intensity of drama, are evident on every page.

Alan Gold

So, is this a real world we’re living in, or a facsimile designed by superior beings to test theories about evolution and development? Are we real, or are we the imagined stuff of a deity, living our lives in a pre-ordained if irregular manner? Four hundred years before McEwing, the French philosopher Rene Descartes pondered much the same. When he was 23, he had a series of powerful dreams in which he concluded that the visions he was having would be solved by science, and proven by logic and wisdom. All truths, he said, were linked with one another. By finding a fundamental truth, and using logic to understand and prove it, science would become pre-eminent.

He searched his mind for that truth, eventually determining that he and other human beings must be real and present because thought exists. He encapsulated this mighty idea when he said, “cogito ergo sum…I think, therefore I am.”

Fraser McEwing calls on the genius of Descartes and Spinoza to wrestle with this same issue in Genesis, and his hero Adam Exx spans time and reality in order to determine whether he is, in fact, the only real person on the planet. But the deftness of his writing means that the quite profound issues that he writes about are a support to the essential thriller and detective nature of the book, making it altogether very satisfying,

Genesis is a fascinating and rewarding book, well written and devised. It is subtitled “Book 1”, which leads to speculation that book two might very well lead to an Exodus, and see Adam Exx taking off to a galaxy far far away for more adventures. Though quite what McEwing will do with Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy is something for which we’ll have to wait.


Alan Gold is a Sydney-based novelist whose latest book, Bell of the Desert is published in the United States.

Fraser Beath McEwing is an accomplished pianist and commentator on classical music performance and is a founding member of The theme & Variations Foundation Advisory Board which provides assistance to talented young Australian pianists. His professional background is in journalism, editing and publishing. He is also the author of three novels.He is a Governor of the Sir Moses Montefiore Home. He is also J-Wire’s music reviewer




One Response to “Book Review: Genesis – Book 1 [Adam Exx] by Fraser Beath McEwing”
  1. Lynne Newington says:

    Unfortunately, the fall of Adam seems to always be the main topic from Genesis.
    One gets a little tired after a while, with the fallen woman aspect coming from pulpits and more than once I have reminded who ever, of Adams duty of care towards Eve..not always received well.
    This book reads as a thought provoking aspect without the “she did it”.

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