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Literature / The Wandering

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The Wandering is a 1990 Christian Science Fiction book by Roger Elwood. It is about a Tech Detective named Neshi who receives prophetic dreams and is currently working on a murder case when he stumbles upon what turns out to be a Government Conspiracy with a secret group of beings known only as the Natasians. His discovery does not go undiscovered by the powers-that-be, and soon he is exiled into space where he sees that countless worlds have fallen devastated by the Natasians. He soon settles on the planet called Nede which he thinks is a utopia, but soon he discovers secrets about its people that cause him to despair.

This work provides examples of

  • Above Good and Evil: From what Neshi heard during his time as a captive of the Tech Detectives to be subject to correction therapy.
    Voice: When we're through, if we asked you to do so, you would shoot your own mother.
    Neshi: No! No! That's wicked! That's evil.
    Voice: Do not deceive yourself with those words. There is no such thing, no good or evil. What is, is.
  • Affectionate Nickname: Etarina's name for Neshi, "Baba", because he talks too much.
    • Tuati gives Neshi another nickname, Ma'Tu, which means "gift of God".
  • Aliens Speaking English: Despite visiting people of two different worlds, Neshi is able to communicate with them without a problem and could even read their literature.
  • An Arm and a Leg: Yanif found his arm being devoured by one of the creatures that the Jerusalemites found underground on their journey to Asframore. Neshi killed the creature with a laser knife, severing off the rest of Yanif's arm in the process. Unfortunately, Yanif suffered too much blood loss and ended up dying.
  • As the Good Book Says...: Scripture is used sparingly in various parts of the story.
  • Big Bad: Satan.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Neshi and his two companions from Nede are all killed on the last world they ended up on, but just as Neshi dies, he could hear a voice calling "Baba".
  • Brainwashing: "Correctional therapy" for Tech Detectives, which includes brain-wave restructuring to wipe out "counter-productive memories" of rogue Tekkies in order to bring them back in line. The agency was planning to use that on Neshi to wipe out any memory he has of the government's secret plots so as to make him useless to the Jerusalemites.
  • Computer Virus: Neshi creates one to destroy all the records stored on the Tech Detective Headquarters computers.
  • Crapsaccharine World: Nede. It's a peaceful world where its citizens engage in ritual sacrifices to their God who is actually Satan.
  • Crapsack World: What the Jerusalemites fear that their homeworld is becoming with the Government Conspiracy in place. The two other worlds with civilization still on them that Neshi visits also seem to be headed the same way.
  • Creating Life: What the Natasians were secretly working on with their first creation being the "hunchback", where Etarina's brain was transplanted in.
  • Crisis of Faith: Dwaun has one when Neshi exposes the Nedians' god for what he really is, but this is eventually followed by a Heel–Faith Turn when he and his partner Graita realize the truth. The rest of the Nedians, however, never fully recover.
  • Crusading Widow: Neshi, after the death of his wife Etarina, made all the more heartbreaking when he found out that she was pregnant.
  • Cub Cues Protective Parent: The Jerusalemites first meet an underground baby creature that attacked one of their members by gnawing off his arm. However, they soon come across its more dangerous mother that picks off the team one by one, eventually attacking Neshi and nearly causing him to die if it weren't for his fellow team member giving him a life-saving medicine.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: The Natasians versus the Jerusalemites, with the Natasians being powerful spirit beings that the Jerusalemites couldn't defeat, even going so far as possessing their victims. Neshi and Ferene barely escape the conflict, with Neshi being the one that the Natasians purposely spared so that they could exile him to space while they continue to do their evil work unhindered.
  • Deadly Game: Government-sanctioned ones on Neshi's homeworld, usually consisting of a convict and a very heavily-armed robot. It is during Neshi attending one of the matches that he meets up with someone who passes along some important information leading to the mysterious Jerusalemites.
  • Demonic Possession: The Natasians have the ability to possess their victims, even as children, as Ferene points out to Neshi when he tells about a memory he had where children were used in and for performing human(oid) sacrifice rituals, including himself.
  • Doomed Hometown: Neshi dreams that is what his world ended up becoming with the Natasians in control, only for it to become replaced by a Shining City.
  • Dream Intro: Ignoring the prologue, Neshi's story begins with him being in a dream that becomes significant to the plot of the story.
  • Evil Tower of Ominousness: Asframore, the citadel of the Natasians, with its high tower that was reaching unto heaven.
  • The Exile: Neshi, who is forced off his own world by the Natasians. He is joined by Dwaun and Graita, who choose to leave their home world of Nede when their fellow citizens turn against them.
  • Eye Scream: Matthew Rosenberg, the human Neshi had encountered, had his eyes burned by the local extremists.
  • Fake Arm Disarm: One of the "androids" Neshi sees in his hallucination takes off his own hand and throws it at him. Another "android" takes out an eye and also gives it to him.
  • Faking the Dead: The Jerusalemites were able to fake their own deaths so that they could grow in numbers.
  • Faith–Heel Turn: The fate of most of the Nedians, after their version of God has been exposed as Satan by Neshi.
  • Fantastic Religious Weirdness: Neshi, Dwaun, and Graita discover that the only way to salvation is through Jesus, and that Jesus' death on the cross is for all creation, including them.
  • Finishing Each Other's Sentences: When Neshi starts to tell the Jerusalemites his dream as seen at the beginning of the book, the Jerusalemites one by one explain all the details as if they are constructing the entire story sentence by sentence, until they all communally end it with "Jerusalem, Jerusalem, how I weep for thee."
  • Framing Device: The story is told by a mysterious person named the Storyteller, who resides in heaven along with his audience. The Storyteller is hinted to be Neshi.
  • Ghost Planet: Neshi visits many of them, all of which were destroyed (presumably) by the Natasians.
  • Hallucinations: Neshi has one when he was drugged by the Tech Detectives and sent for correction therapy for turning against his former allies, only to escape the holding facility with the help of the Jerusalemites. He was seeing his fellow Tech Detectives as androids.
  • Hard Work Hardly Works: Dwaun is disappointed to find out after reading the Bible for himself that all his "good works" were for nothing, that the only way to salvation was through faith in Jesus Christ.
  • Humanoid Abomination: The "hunchback" which Neshi goes after and finds out has possessed the brain of his dead wife Etarina.
  • I'm Cold... So Cold...: Ferene describes his death as this.
  • In the Back: How Neshi gets killed near the end.
  • Killed Mid-Sentence: J'sopah Smythe's last written entry reads like this:
    "I am dying, I know. As my eyes close and I feel mortality seeping from me like wine from a leaking cask, I am entering what I have prophesied for so long. I am entering the next life, I am joining—the darkness! The flames! I am—"
  • The Lifestream: The Currents Of The Cosmos, the preferred afterlife of Neshi's homeworld.
  • Mercy Kill: What Etarina wanted of her husband Neshi when he found her in the laboratory of the Natasians' citadel, lying on an operating table with her brain and body hooked up to a machine. Fortunately, she managed to expire without the need of her husband.
  • Messianic Archetype: J'sopah Smythe, a visitor on the world of Nede, fancies himself as this, even at the point of death. He is a thinly-veiled Expy of the Mormon religion founder Joseph Smith.
  • Minimalistic Cover Art: The cover of the book features curving lines representing a road heading deep into outer space.
  • A Nazi by Any Other Name: The assembly of worshipers that Neshi witnesses on the world he winds up on worships a god that demands racial purity at all costs. Judging from the fact that one of their victims was a Jew, it seems to suggest that the last world Neshi ended up on was Earth.
  • Narrator All Along: The Storyteller is hinted to be Neshi.
  • Nightmare Sequence: Neshi has one in the beginning of the story, where he enters a city where people are feasting on one another, and on his exit from it, an army approaches and he gets stabbed by a spear, with a voice calling "Jerusalem, Jerusalem, how I weep for thee." The nightmare is later revealed to be shared by various members of the Jerusalemites, who believe that it is actually a prophecy.
  • One-Paragraph Chapter: One chapter consists of only two sentences, simply ending with "Graita died".
  • Organ Theft: The "murders" on Neshi's homeworld are all for the sake of supplying the government with organs, and not just for organ replacements, as Neshi finds out.
  • The Paralyzer: The Natasians freeze the surviving Jerusalemites in place so that their leader Satan can absorb the bodies into himself, even the ones that are still living, which Neshi and Ferene can only watch helplessly as they are being sealed away into the spaceship that is preparing for takeoff.
  • A Protagonist Shall Lead Them: Neshi finds out that the Jerusalemites were all waiting for him to lead them to victory against the Natasians. Unfortunately, Neshi ends up leading the entire group into a massacre by the Natasians.
  • The Purge: What the Natasians plan to do with the populace of Neshi's homeworld, presumably through the sleep chambers.
  • Religion Is Right: More to the point, Christianity is the only religion that is right.
  • La Résistance: The Jerusalemites.
  • Sacrificial Lamb: Tuati, who through her sacrifice in the middle part of the story discovers that the Nedians' god is actually Satan.
  • Sdrawkcab Name: All over the place. Natasians is a particularly lampshaded one because the root word is backwards for Satan.
  • Senseless Sacrifice. When Neshi was near death and was given a life-saving medicine by his friend Ferene, Neshi at first refuses it, telling Ferene to give it to somebody who needs it more than him. Ferene reasons that it would be senseless for Neshi to sacrifice his life for the sake of his followers since his life means much more as the leader of the Jerusalemites than that of his followers, and so Neshi acquiesces.
  • Shining City: What Neshi sees his homeworld being replaced by after it was destroyed in a dream. It's also the location of the story's Framing Device.
  • Sleeper Starship: Neshi's starship was designed with sleep chambers that could enable him and later his two other passengers from Nede to journey through space for long periods of time without ever aging.
  • Star Scraper/Tower of Babel: Asframore, the Natasians' citadel, has an incredibly high tower that they built for the explicit purpose of placing a statue on the top in defiance of the Almighty. On the way up there, Scripture references to the building of the Tower of Babel can be found on two of the plaques.
  • Super Window Jump: Neshi makes a jump through the window of the correction therapy facility to escape his captors.
  • Tantrum Throwing: Neshi wrecks a public bathroom in his rage over thinking what the Natasians have done to people like Quintez and his own wife Etarina.
  • Tears of Joy: Neshi found his wife Etarina crying these one night when they were still living together.
  • Time-Passage Beard: Neshi ended up growing one during the time he spent on the starship.
  • Together in Death: Neshi and his wife Etarina, plus Dwaun and Graita, his two companions from Nede.
  • Wandering Jew: Or in this case, the Wandering Space Traveling Jew, as Neshi is made to fly through the universe in search of a world where he could settle down, only to find worlds that were either (supposedly) destroyed by the Natasians or corrupted by their influence.
  • Wetware CPU: Quintez, who is a humanoid brain inside a robotic body.
  • Wrong Side of the Tracks: Moor's Edge, which is basically the slums of Neshi's home city on his world. So depressingly run-down that very few people would dare to live there.
  • You Can't Go Home Again: Neshi, as he imagines in one of his dreams that his homeworld was destroyed. Dwaun and Graita choose to leave Nede after seeing their people go through some horrible changes when their faith in their god has been destroyed and they have nothing else to replace it with.