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Literature / The Lives Of Tao

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One morning, out-of-shape IT guy Roen Tan starts hearing voices in his head. At first, he thinks he might be going crazy, but he soon learns that he's unwittingly playing host to an ancient alien named Tao, whose people, the Quasing, crash landed on Earth millions of years ago and have been influencing the development of human society in an effort to go home. As Tao forces Roen to get into shape, Roen learns that the Quasing are divided into two factions: The Prophus, who want to protect humanity, and the Genjix, who are willing to throw Earth under the bus in order to get home.

The Lives of Tao is the debut novel of Wesley Chu, and was released in April 2013. It has since received two sequels:

  • The Deaths of Tao, released in October 2013
  • The Rebirths of Tao, released in 2015.
The trilogy was followed by a sequel series titled "The Rise of Io" set years after The Rebirths of Tao and focusing on a new generation of characters involved in the war between Prophus and Genjix.


The series contains the following tropes:

  • Action Dad: Roen becomes this in between the first two books.
  • Action Mom: Jill becomes this in between the first two books.
  • Ancient Astronauts: The Quasing crash landed on Earth back in the time of the dinosaurs
  • Ancient Conspiracy: The conflict between Prophus and Genjix has been going on since the Spanish Inquisition.
  • Anyone Can Die:
    • Sonya and Sean in the first book
    • Devin, Admiral Abrams, Stephen, Whueler, and Paula in Book two.
    • Book three kills off Vinnick, Vladimir, Faust, Dylan, Jacob, and Enzo.
  • Apocalypse Cult: The Genjix are seeking to teraform Earth to match the conditions of the Quasing home world, Quasar. Doing so will kill all non-Quasing life on Earth.
  • Badass Family: The Tan family becomes this in the third book.
  • Badass Grandpa: Several older hosts on both sides of the conflict. The Prophus have Admiral Abrams and Stephen, while the Genjix have Sean, Devin, and Vinnick.
  • Beethoven Was an Alien Spy: Several famous real world historical figures were Quasing hosts, notable examples include:
  • Big Bad Shuffle: There are two main Genjix who serve the role of Big Bad, but Roen never fights them at the same time.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Every book in the trilogy has one.
    • The Lives of Tao: Sean Diammont is defeated, but Sonya is killed, and Jill is forcefully inducted into the Prophus as Baji's new host.
    • The Deaths of Tao: Roen and Jill fix their marital issues and delay the Quasiform operations for a few years, but the Prophus have lost all political influence in the United States and the existence of the Quasing has been revealed to the world, leaving the future of both factions uncertain.
    • The Rebirths of Tao: Jill is promoted to serve as the new interim leader of the Prophus until the Keeper's heir is old enough to take command, Roen manages to convince the IXTF to work with the Prophus and stop hunting them. But despite Quasiforming being delayed by several decades, the Genjix Council still exists and Zoras has Enzo killed so he can move to a more competent host.
  • Breeding Cult: The Genjix have The Hatchery, a program designed to breed the next generation of hosts.
  • Butterfly Effect: Discussed as the reason some of Roen's seemingly innocuous assignments have significant impact in the long run.
  • Cool Boat: The Prophus have a submarine , the Atlantis
  • The Coup: In the final third of The Deaths of Tao, Enzo launches a coup to assassinate every Prophus agent in Washington D.C.
  • Enemy Civil War: A major subplot of The Rebirths of Tao is a power struggle between the younger and more fanatic agents lead by Enzo, and the older veteran Genjix under the leadership of Vinnick.
  • Energy Beings: The Quasing. The reason they form symbiotic bonds with hosts is because their energy forms cannot survive more than a few minutes in Earth's atmosphere.
  • ET Gave Us Wifi: And cars, and machines, and customs, and the wheel... In summary, almost every political, social, scientific, and technological development of human history was created by either the Prophus or Genjix.
  • Everyone Has Standards: Attacking an enemy's friends and loved ones is looked down upon by both Prophus and Genjix alike.
  • Evil Is Sexy: Invoked by the Genjix, who breed the next generation of hosts for looks as well as brains.
  • Face of an Angel, Mind of a Demon: The Genjix Hatchery deliberately invokes this trope in breeding future vessels. They're even referred to as Adonises
  • Formerly Fat: Roen loses weight over the course of his Prophus training in the first book.
  • A God Am I: The Genjix hosts believe themselves to be gods, or close to them.
  • Historical Badass Upgrade: Everyone listed under Beethoven Was an Alien Spy.
  • Kill It with Fire: Chivya and several other Quasing are obliterated with flamethrowers after leaving their hosts.
  • Killed Off for Real:
    • In The Lives of Tao: Edward, Sonya, and Sean
    • In The Deaths of Tao: Wheuler, Paula, Admiral Abrams, Devin, and Stephen
    • In The Rebirths of Tao: Vinnick, Vladimir, Ohr, Dylan, Faust, Jacob, and Enzo
  • The Masquerade: Very few people not involved in the war are aware of the existence of the Quasing.
  • No Gender: In the Sequel Series, it's explained that Quasing do not have a concept of gender and designate themselves as male or female according to their current host.
  • Occam's Razor: Discussed. Roen brings this up to justify his argument that Schizophrenia is a more likely explanation for Tao's voice in his head than Symbiotic Possession. Tao's response is that Occam was a host and invented the trope to uphold the Masquerade.
  • Official Couple: Roen and Jill
  • Omniscient Council of Vagueness: The Genjix Council. So far the only human members seen so far are Vinnick, Devin, and Enzo.
  • Parents as People: Roen and Jill are estranged during The Deaths of Tao as over their roles in the war, but eventually reconcile. And despite their disagreements, they still care for each other and their son.
  • Phlebotinum Killed the Dinosaurs: The Quasing spaceship crash is responsible for the extinction of the dinosaurs and the subsequent ice age.
  • Secret War: Between the Prophus and Genjix hosts and their supporters.
  • Symbiotic Possession: The reason the Quasing do this to humans is because they are Energy Beings that cannot survive prolonged exposure to Earth's atmosphere.
  • Took a Level in Badass: Roen goes from overweight slacker to badass secret agent over the course of the first book. And then takes another level in between each consecutive book.
  • Ubermensch: The Genjix see themselves as this.
  • Ugly Hero, Good-Looking Villain: Roen isn't necessarily ugly, but it's repeatedly stated that he won't be winning any beauty contests anytime soon. Meanwhile, Genjix hosts are bred for physical perfection and high standards of beauty.
  • We ARE Struggling Together: In the third book, the Genjix are fighting with each other as much as they're fighting the Prophus and the IXTF.

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