As a writer, I am all too familiar with the daunting task of transferring images from my mind to a blank document. Such a process can simultaneously be exhilarating and exhausting, as words are often scarce in describing the multiple nuances of a vision.

When I first picked up Ariel and Electra by R. Merlin, I was quite intrigued --  accustomed to rather usual formats, I found it very stimulating that this book was coming packaged in its own box, along with a nice letter written on parchment paper. To add to the surprise, the book opens vertically, like a notepad, and my first impression was that I was holding in my hands something very special and certainly unique.

As I started to read, the word ‘unique’ came to mind several other times, and I found myself suddenly thrust into a world of altered perceptions. In all honesty, I had to read several passages over and over before I felt I had retained anything from them, and I stopped multiple times to wonder if what was being described were encounters with women, goddesses, spaceships, drugs or lights. It wasn’t until I researched the author that my mental fog slightly lifted.

In my research, I learned that R. Merlin was a laser artist, and that his career began before technology was advanced enough to catch up to his vision of light shows. Aha! Remember the bit about writers struggling to develop the picture imprinted on their minds’ film for all to see? Well, R. Merlin, unable to bring his vision to life through available light technology, decided to give birth to it through a different channel: writing with the added benefit of a pinch of magic green dust (or several, as he candidly admitted); the result was mind blowing in the least; no pun intended. The vision is, however, pleasantly laced with bits of higher wisdom surely spun from the author’s spiritual path as a Druid.

Ultimately, I think Ariel and Electra is not suitable for the average warm body, but it could be a valuable read for anyone interested in exploring the labyrinth of altered perceptions, for a collector attracted to unique and limited editions, or even for someone who delights in letting the mind wander far away, as long as they don’t attempt to figure out who Ariel and Electra really are. And if they ever do figure it out, I hope they will be willing to share.

~review by Sandra Carrington-Smith


Author: R. Merlin

Ion Drive Publishing, 2010

pp. 360, $27.99