Friday, September 13, 2013

Mysticism Neurosurgery, and More in The Avatar Syndrome by Stan I.S.Law!

"There were three of them. Three wingless flies moving slowly, in concentric circles, as though burdened by some invisible load, across the kitchen table. 
“Anne?” “Yes, Mommy?” Anne or Annette, as her father liked to call her, was a bundle of joy. Five at her last birthday, a mass of richly curled naturally red hair bounced with each of her jaunty youthful steps. She presented a picture of health and happiness. Diana Howell normally had to hold herself back from picking her up and squeezing her for all she was worth. “Yes, Mommy?” Anne repeated as her mother stood over her, her hands clasped tightly together as though holding something small but precious. 
“Please explain these?” Diana pointed to the three de-winged flies still performing their gyrations on the table. 
“The flies, Mommy?” Her mother didn’t answer. This was the third time in as many weeks that she’d asked her daughter the same question. “Please explain these....”
 “They like honey, Mommy. I gave them some...”
 “Anne?” Diana’s voice sounded more stern. 
Anne’s mop of hair bounced up and down as she danced around the table. “If I didn’t take off their wings, they would fly away before they ate all the honey, Mommy!”

The Avatar Syndrome
By Stan I.S. Law

The above opening to The Avatar Syndrome threw me. Oh Boy, what have I got myself into now?
A child removing the wings of flies??? Stanislaw writes more books than I'll ever be able to really read and digest. When I saw him request reviews for Headless World at Reviewers Roundup on Facebook, I let him know I'd read it when I could... Instead, he sends me The Avatar Syndrome AND Headless World, indicating he just knew I'd want to read the prequel before the sequel... 

Unfortunately for me with a high TBR stack is that he was right! I would not have wanted to read the second book without the first! Sure, they can stand alone but how could I possibly discuss one without knowing the whole story? Of course, it's fiction, but Stanislaw throws his full intellect into each and every book he writes and while readers think they are enjoying a great fantasy thriller, they are learning much more about subjects you would never consider trying to learn. Take, for instance, neurosurgery...

Quite simply I don't have the background to understand the sciences, but this author knows that and so he writes so that you get so invested in the story that you try to comprehend what's happening and you do pick up at least a basic understanding. Take Anne, for instance, the main character. If you read the above opening, you'll probably immediately think psychopath. Indeed Anne had many other problems and when she entered school and started to interact, she was ultimately expelled and her parents had to homeschool her.

Skipping quite a bit, Anne is finally scheduled to meet with a psychologist, who immediately, in my opinion, seem to slough off her problems. Her parents really thought so, too, but decided that since Anne was fine with homeschooling, they would wait. But then one day she had a headache...

And that's when they discovered... Well, I'm not going to tell you mainly because I understand the basic premise, but don't think I could explain it to my readers. Let's just say that her brain is different than ours... There was a time in Anne's past when she had been kidnapped; they believe it may have caused that to happen and it sounded to me quite credible...scientifically...

But, really, I prefer to think it was supposed to be that way... Do you believe in the mystical??? Then you've got to read this book!

During her treatment, Anne met a young doctor and discovered that he played the violin and with two sticks, played a concerto. Now he must have hummed along with moving his fingers, because Anne was enthralled. She wanted to learn how to play!

Do you know what an avatar is? I didn't before I read this book. Sure, I'm placed a cat to be my "avatar" on some social site, just as many of you have... But, wow!

Just Wow!

Before long, Anne was not only playing the violin, she was lauded as the greatest violinist alive... Soon she was giving concerts... Then she was scheduled to tour!

I know that you may choose not to listen to the music I've selected in response to reading this novel. But I wanted to give you some feeling for what two years of constant touring/playing must have taken in terms of strength and emotions. You will learn that there was a reason for Anne's collapse and her ultimate withdrawal from playing.

Because by then, she knew that she was to move on to another type of music--interacting with the autistic children who lived in Canada and much more...

“Fire, no Ma... Diana.” Peter had great difficulties fraternizing with his betters. Elders, he quickly corrected his own definition. It certainly wasn’t due to his so-called humble milieu. In fact, his father was a respected oncologist in Toronto. It was mostly John Brent’s presence that dampened his spontaneity. “Actually I was....” “...playing the Sibelius violin concerto. He is brilliant!” Anne burst in with unaccustomed vivacity.
 “Well, there is only so much you can do with a stick...” he continued to look embarrassed. 
“I thought your rendering of the andante was particularly engaging, Sir,” 
Gabriel said from the doorway, his voice as serious as though delivering a pontifical dogma. He filled the opening almost completely. “Will there be anything else, Madam?” 
By now Diana had no idea what was going on at all. Her daughter a genius, Peter playing violin concertos with a pair of sticks, Gabriel applauding his performance!

“The Max Bruch? Pyotr Il’yich Tchaikovsky, I can play him better than I can pronounce him. And what of Felix Mendelssohn, or Johannes Brahms. Of course, there is my beloved Sibelius. Dear Jean, dear Julius Christian....” 
"They all sounded like her dear, personal friends. Peter suspected that, when alone, she thought of them all in first names only. Dear Max, or Pyotr, or Felix. She had also read all about them. All of them. Detailed biographies, trying to get into the minds of these great composers, perhaps their souls. She needed to know what all those messengers of the gods had felt when those divine notes flowed through them, through their hearts onto the lined paper. She sighed deeply, probably tearing herself away from Jean’s study. Then she looked at Peter, a silent plea in her eyes. 

"He strongly suspected the latter, although, eventually, the two really became one. As for the performance of the Brahm’s Concerto, well... There were only two things that separated it from all the other performances in Montreal. First, it was the soloist herself. And the second was almost as unique. Anne’s very last note was followed by deadly silence. Whether people had refused to accept that the concerto was over, or whether they were just swept into a different reality, no one would ever know. But it wasn’t until virtually the whole audience had risen to their feet that the first hands joined in applause. The applause lasted until Anne had returned to the stage a dozen times, bowed and sent kisses, then climbed to the conductor’s podium to kiss the conductor, which act, needless to say, invoked another storm of applause. 
"Just as Sir Ian had promised, it was a night no one would soon forget. And this was just the beginning.

"Anne was much too old to be considered a child prodigy. Mozart was four when he composed his first symphony. He qualified to be called a Wunderkind, Michael agreed, but not Anne. “No way,” Michael insisted, “Anne is very talented, after all she’s my daughter,” he postulated with a straight face, “but she’s no prodigy. She just works very hard.” Michael desperately wanted Anne to be, what he called, ‘normal’. He had read about too many cases where the so-called ‘wonder children’ had their lives destroyed by success too early. 
"Peter tended to agree. He knew a thing or two about the fiddle. Also about child prodigies. But early success did not necessarily spell impending doom. Yehudi Menuhin had played solo violin with the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra when he was just seven years old. At eleven he’d made his debut in Carnegie Hall with Beethoven’s violin concerto. When Einstein heard him two years later, he is reported to have said: ‘Now I know there is a God in heaven!’ Peter smiled at his own thoughts. He loved that story.

"At the final concert there was an air of reserved expectation and excitement. The program was reversed. Traditionally, the violin concerto is played before the intermission. It is preceded by some introductory oeuvre, usually by a local composer, like the di Vargas Intermezzo, and followed, after the break, by a symphony. With Anne, this was impossible. In Rio de Janeiro, more than a year ago, the conductor had wisely decided to change the established order. After her performance in New Delhi, it had proven impossible to maintain any order after she had finished her performance. Following a moment or two of flabbergasted awe, people had erupted into such a display of adulation that it had taken more than an hour to quiet them down. In Rio, and ever since, Anne’s performance was the final piece on the program. In the Royal Box, where Peter, John and the Howells sat as Sir Ian’s guests, everyone shed tears of joy, of elation, of euphoria at being transported to a reality they hardly suspected existed. Anne took many curtain calls and then walked quickly, alone, to Sir Ian Barton’s dressing room.
"There she placed the Stradivarius carefully in the glass cabinet from which it had once come. For a little while she stood looking at the magnificent violin which, at least in part, had made her famous. She touched it once more, as one would touch a lover one would never see again. A solitary tear rolled from her eye. Then another. And then her chest heaved in convulsive spasms of the agony of the final farewell. Anne never played another note.
Note: No mention of Shostakovitch was in this book. I chose this because I love the minor classics, as I also chose this violinist to represent Anne in my blog.
~~~"Dr. John Brent, MD, FRCS, had been Director of Montreal Neurological Institute long enough to know that threatening the Minister with future problems would be of little interest to him. He had saved his trump card. “Minister Courtier,” he said, leaning over the immaculate surface of the mahogany conference table and lowering his voice to a conspiratorial level, “I must confide in you.”
"The Minister unwittingly began to listen. Secrets were always good for business. It kept one ahead of the game. “We have hard evidence that the Federal Government guidelines bear a direct result on the sanity of the whole nation. The Whole Nation,” the doctor capitalized the last two words with exaggerated facial expression.
 “What do you mean, doctor?” The Minister stirred uncomfortably. This didn’t sound good. Mimi might have to wait a minute longer. Life could be really tough in politics. Even Canadian politics.

During all this time, Anne was undergoing many tests by the head neurosurgeons at the Montreal Neurological Institute... Of course, there were others being treated but Anne's unique situation became the basis for much new research that was started... Then Anne came to the attention of others and more wanted to see what was happening...

By the way, I've left out a very important character, who was lovingly called Gabby.  When you start reading, pay attention to him! LOL! Also, Dr. Peter Brown, the stick-violinist and Anne got married when she was 19... 

The book ends...but immediately starts to invite you into the sequel... where Peter Brown takes center stage... Of course, along with Anne... So much happens in this novel, I wanted to help readers see the scope and complexity...but even then, I've just skirted the primary issues. There is no doubt the author is brilliant in his presentation of science and spirituality within fiction. If you haven't read him and you enjoy intellectual stimulation above the norm in novels, please do consider these two! Of the books I've read thus far by the author, these are both the best by far... Can't wait to tell you about being Headless! (Monday!)


Stan I.S. Law (nome de plume of Stanislaw Kapuscinski), an architect, sculptor and prolific writer was educated in Poland and England. Since 1965 he has resided in Canada. His special interests cover a broad spectrum of arts, sciences and philosophy. His fiction and non-fiction attest to his particular passion for the scope and the development of human potential. He authored more than twenty books, twelve of them novels. His novels have often been described as visionary fiction, and/or spiritual thrillers. His short fiction has also been shortlisted for the CBC Literary Awards.

Under his real name he published six non-fiction books sharing his vision of reality. He also composed two collections of poems in his original native tongue, in which he satirizes his view of the world while paying homage to Bozena Happach's sculptures.

As an architect [RIBA, MRAIC, OAQ ret.] he designed a number high rise buildings in Montreal, including Regency Hyatt Hotel (now Delta), Place Mercantile, Headquarters for the Mutual Alliance, as well as a number of low and middle rise structures for private clients. In the National Capital he was the associate in charge of design of Royal Bank Headquarters on Sparks Street.

To find out more about me, look at or add me as a friend wherever you find me!

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