Dancing with the Dead
In Dancing with the Dead, Charles Freedom Long explores the life and death of Fahd Abdul al-Sharfa, a jihadist from the Mahrat mountains trained as a scientist to infiltrate the elite Luna base. Bartered for gold as a child, he was sold to a terrorist by his clan and raised in the Western style, moulded to be the perfect fit for recruitment by the powerful Lumina Corporation. His mission: to destroy the works of Satan – Luna City and both Earth’s space stations. However, both on Earth and beyond, the ripples of the plot are spreading, and alien and psionic peacekeepers are circling in on Fahd’s identity. At stake are death, truth … and the continued existence of humanity.
The premise of Dancing with the Dead is fascinating and unique, theorising the presence of the dead beside and among the living cultures, both human and alien, respected for their insight and consulted at the personal and political level. This social integration of the dead, new to Earth, is skillfully developed by Charles Freedom Long and convincingly integrated into the story. In some ways, the worlds of the dead overshadow that of the living in this story, as the motivations of the living jihadist and his trainers specifically to destroy the space installations are not made entirely clear, although the influence of the dead on the sides of both law enforcement and the terrorists is striking. Equally, Fahd’s growing self-doubt in regards to his mission, in many ways the keystone of the story, is rooted in his brief romantic encounter with a stunning alien, after having dedicated most of his life to the terrorist cause. Overall, however, the book is definitely worth the read for the thought-provoking philosophical questions it opens and the originality of the ideas on offer.