Microbiologist Gabriel has stumbled on a life changing secret. He drops out, becoming an anonymous street musician to escape the consequences. But ...
Going with Gabriel is a 320,000 word work of literary fiction. It is a story told through the single viewpoint of the title character and is written thoughout in third person, present tense.
Gabriel is a 33 years old ex-microbiologist, part of a quartet working on human infertility. The team had discovered a prion-like, permanent infertility agent, sexually contagious across both genders. Obsessed by the human population explosion they had cultivated, then secretly disseminated the agent world-wide via their own, so-called ‘ladybird’ program. Afterwards the conscience stricken Gabriel, suffering a near breakdown, had dropped out of his old life.
Living now as an itinerant, eventually he re-discovers and makes use of his own extraordinary musical talent. As the novel begins he is travelling and playing the streets with fellow musician, Sonny Ojitsu. Roughly the first half of Going with Gabriel is about the title character’s life on the road, his making of music, his finding of love and his efforts to avoid exposure. But threatened by illicit recordings and consequent loss of obscurity he re-establishes contact with his two surviving micro science colleagues. Each of them dies in less than well explained circumstances. Although the Ladybird infertility program remains undiscovered, its effects are already being widely felt. Government and other agencies are hot on its - and now Gabriel’s trail.
If the first half of the novel asks Gabriel (and us) difficult questions about the modern cult of celebrity and about the way our societies and our populations are developing, the second half answers them. The ‘Farland’ society into which Gabriel is now propelled is in fact inspired by the ‘Pantocracy’ devised in the nineteenth century by the poets Coleridge and Wordsworth, who developed it in turn from the writings of Socrates.
Going With Gabriel
Coming to Aberford could have been a bad move. The old fellow at the corner of the bar, that’s Mister Saunders. Just sir to the boys. Probably hadn’t recognised him. He doesn’t think so. Not after fifteen years, not behind all the hair but still there is that worry. He ploughs ahead, finishing up with his own song One Perfect Morning, and in response to the inevitable calls for an encore he gives them Campbell’s Gentle On My Mind. Sonny’s going round with the hat so he sings these final ones unaccompanied, improvising all the in-between bits on the battered old pennywhistle.
Right on schedule he sees Lucy making her way out through this well-heeled crowd. She’s left her man standing there with his pint glass. The guy’s staring up at him like most of the others in here, in thrall to the booze and the music. That’s good.
When it’s all done he waves to acknowledge the claps, the hoots and the shouts, says thanks and good night, jumps down from the Royal George’s makeshift stage. Sonny’s been buttonholed by the smart Irishman at the bar, the one he’d himself been talking with in the break. He makes his way over there now and this fellow sticks out his hand. ‘Gabe, that was good,’ the Irishman says, ‘Very good. You can sing. Listen to me. I think maybe I can do things for you. Big stuff, OK?’
‘Yes? But no thanks.’ He shakes his head, grinning away any unintended abruptness. ‘We’re OK. It’s been good to meet you.’ He tucks the pennywhistle into his coat’s inside pocket, nods to the Irishman’s young lady then to the duo with the blank beaten faces and the Blues Brothers hats. ‘You coming Sonny?’ He glances around but his old schoolmaster is nowhere to be seen. The people open up for him, making with the back-slaps, offering him drinks and all that, trying to get him to stay on and do more music. ‘Sorry folks, but when you gotta go, you gotta go,’ he tells one group. ‘We’ll see you all later, OK?’ The Royal George’s manager, Jim someone or other, intercepts him. ‘Hey, Gabe, you going already?’ The man has had to shout to be heard over the hubbub, ‘That were great stuff again tonight.’
‘Gabriel. Yes we’re off now, but thanks,’ he calls back, ‘And thanks for having us.’
‘No problem. You can get back tomorrow?’
‘Sorry, Jim. Three nights is enough for us. Really good though. Got us a gig at the London Palladium next.’ The man looks as if he’s ready to believe it so Gabriel grins, adds, ‘Just joking, my friend, just joking.’
‘Yeah? The guy you were talking to over there, you know who he is?’
‘He’s been telling us. Johnny O’Halligan? Says he’s in the business.’
‘Yeah, well listen, he is the business. Look, later on there’s going to be a bit of a party here. You know, like, plenty of the right people and stuff? Should be good.’
‘Wish we could but - you know how it is.’ He holds out his hand. Looking puzzled, Jim takes it and shakes. Over the tops of the heads he can see Sonny trying to get away without giving offence. Johnny O’Halligan wouldn’t want to know about any negatives. Someone must have brought the man out from the big city, must have told him about the pair of vagrants, the one with the whistle and all the songs and this other one, the grizzled old Yankee harmonica man. O’Halligan’s sucking on this bloody great cigar, its blunt end turning dark red and then orange. Looking hard at the other half of his vanishing target for tonight the man takes the thing out of his mouth, points it at the back-lit bar with its miscellany of bottles, raising his eyebrows, asking the question. No chance, mister, not for Sonny, either. Not the old booze and not any of the other stuff, not any more. From behind her man’s cashmere back O’Halligan’s blonde is looking at him in the way they often do. He raises a hand, winks, says goodnight to Jim and, holding up a thumb, opens the door. It’s raining cold out here. He turns up the collar of his much slept-in ex-US Army officer’s coat, faded and dirty but quality and warm. He can just about feel through the lapel material the little plastic bag he’d sewn inside it three years ago, the bag with the bank card, since then unused; and the two clippings.
He looks up and down the street for the lady who, at the end, he’d been playing and singing for. She of all the chestnut hair and all the chest. He sees her white Audi just a little way down, just like she’d said. He thinks about the bed in the gentlemen’s club, aka the men’s hostel, aka the doss house, wondering for the first time if this Lucy has bargained on Sonny accepting the invitation as well as him. Well, if she says forget it, she says forget it. The rain’s getting through, beginning to flatten and straggle the raft of his hair and his beard. He takes shelter in a shop doorway. Almost at once Sonny comes out, right behind him the Blues Brothers. ‘Where the hell you think you’re going?’ Gabriel hears one of them say. He’s laid a large hand on Sonny’s middleweight shoulder. ‘Best not walk out on Mister O’Halligan,’ says the owner of the hand. ‘So, like he asked you, where’s the guy with the whistle gone?’
‘Right here, man,’ Gabriel says, ‘Can I help you?’ He steps out, puts the whistle to his lips, gives out with a breathy, wavering middle C then three staccato contras and a couple more long notes that disappear all a-quiver deep into this rainy night. The hard-man faces are cut across by the shadows of the brims of their hats but he can see they’re wearing that old, what the hell is this guy look. BB One says, ‘Hey, Gabe. Boss wants to know how to get hold of you, OK?’
‘No disrespect, but I’m Gabriel.’ He points at Sonny with the whistle. ‘And my friend here, he’s called Sonny, Sonny Ojitsu. Please tell Mister O’Halligan we don’t have any address but we’ll be playing the bus station tomorrow if he wants to hear some more. About mid-day?’ Sonny’s grinning again now because he’s not going to have to fight with anybody tonight, not going to get himself hurt. He puts up his battered old harmonica, breathes out the notes so you can almost hear the words, ‘It’s rai-ning vi-o-lets.’
BB number two shakes his head. Rainwater arcs out into the yellow street light. ‘The bus station?’ he mutters. ‘Shit. You fucking guys.’
Someone yells something probably insulting out of the window of a passing car. Peals of drunken laughter fade along with the scream of an over-revved engine. It’s that time of night in Aberford. It’s that kind of a small town these days. Sad, really. He wonders again about his old classics master. ‘That’s right,’ he says, ‘The bus station. We’ll see you, boys, OK? Come on, Sonny, there’s a lady over there wants to say hello.’
The lady does say hello and no, she doesn’t have a problem with Sonny coming along. Pulling out on to the rain-swept roadway, looking behind, ‘Why should I?’ she says, ‘I told you I’ve tons of room. It’s good to meet you, Mister Ojitsu.’
‘And yourself, ma’am,’ says Sonny from the back of the car.
‘So, Gabriel,’ she goes on, ‘Do I take it you now have an agent? Am I in the company of the soon to be rich and famous?’
‘No way.’ He laughs. ‘No, we’re happy with things just as they are. Right, Sonny?’
‘Sure he is, ma’am,’ says Sonny. ‘Sure we are.’
In front of them a man staggers out of the shadows on to a crossing, forcing Lucy into a hard and noisy brake. Seemingly unperturbed, she glances across at Gabriel. ‘You are? You’re happy not being well known? I thought everyone was supposed to want the celebrity thing?’ The windscreen wipers slash away, dissolving, resolving, dissolving the man on the crossing. He’s just standing there, scowling, saying something probably unpleasant in words they cannot hear. He slaps at the front of the car with the flat of his hand, moves uncertainly off.
Sonny chuckles, says, ‘Hey man, you the lucky b - I mean, that was one very nice move, Ma’am. Great reactions.’
Gabriel repeats himself. ‘No, Lucy. Not the celebrity thing. Seems to me that’s just some rickety old peg made for the people by the media. You know, the one on which it hangs all its illusions, all its lovely money hat. That’s not for us, not even if that was for real.’ It’s not far to the house, Lucy’s house, their home for tonight. It’s a biggish house with one of those nicely gravelled semi-circular in/out driveways that reminds him of the much larger version he’d grown up in.
‘Come on in, gentlemen,’ says Lucy, unlocking the door, leading the way, switching on the lights. In the hallway stands a dog, wolf-like, silent, tail moving without conviction. Lucy reaches out to stroke its head, pull gently on one of its ears. ‘Don’t worry about Caesar. Now he’s seen I’m OK with the two of you he won’t bother you. Let him smell you.’
‘Oh sure, I’ll take your word for that, Ma’am,’ says Sonny.
‘Your man’s not here?’ Gabriel asks.
She looks at him. ‘Clive? Why would he be here? He’s not my man, as you put it, we were out on a dinner date. After last night I told him about you - the two of you. You were brilliant, the two of you. Have I said that? I’m sure your Showbiz friend would have told you as much. Anyway, Clive’s home by now, safe and sound in his marital bed. How about something to eat? Something to drink?’
Sonny says no thanks. Gabriel shakes his head. They’d already eaten. Chicken and fries out back in the pub.
‘I’ll show you up. If there’s anything you want in the night you’ll find the kitchen down there.’ She points past the dog. ‘Plenty of stuff in the fridge. Just help yourselves.’
‘Good boy, Caesar,’ says Sonny.
‘Thanks, Lucy,’ Gabriel says. ‘This really is very good of you. We don’t go a whole lot on hotels. Not even when we’re in funds. Or maybe they don’t go too much on the two of us. We travel pretty light. The hostels are mostly OK, Aberford’s is well above par, but I have to tell you the company often leaves something to be desired.’
Caesar grumbles again, unmoving.
‘Yeah, I think I’ll definitely be giving the kitchen a miss, Mrs,’ says Sonny.
‘Actually I’m a re-born Miss, Sonny,’ she says. ‘And travelling light? There’s light and there’s light’. She glances, smiling, at his satchel. ‘Anyway I know you’re not going to murder me or anything. Nobody doing your kind of music could be all that nasty.’ She laughs, takes off her coat, hangs it on the hallstand then starts up the stairs with Gabriel behind her and Sonny coming last. She knows what they’re looking at, perhaps giving it some extra wriggle under the grey silk dress.
Sonny glances inside his bedroom, turns around. ‘Wow! That will surely do. All right. So it’s good night to you, lady, and thanks again. He blows out the first couple of bars of ‘S’wonderful’ on his mouth organ. There’s a low pitched rumble from downstairs. He says, ‘Caesar, take it easy, man. No offence ... Gabe, just wake me up before you go-go, OK?’
‘Plenty of hot water,’ she says, ‘You each have a bathroom.’
Sonny grins. ‘You trying to tell us something, Ma’am?’
At the door into the room she indicates is his Gabriel leans forward to touch a kiss, quick and friendly to the cheek, meets instead the big, soft lips. She smells so great: Pernod liquorice, exotic perfume, a touch of bar-room nicotine, all that rude warmth of woman.
‘Goodnight, Gabriel.’ Her voice shakes a little.
‘And goodnight to you, Lucy, thanks again.’ As the bath fills he searches inside the pockets of his backpack for toothbrush and comb. His body looks very white in the hard bathroom lighting, white but still OK considering the traveller’s eat-when-you-can-what-you-can diet. He leaves the tin whistle on top of his pile of clothing, steps into the tub. In his head is still the music. Always the music for without it the panic. Right now it’s Gentle On My Mind. He lies back, listening inside his head to the words. Great words, great tune. There’s the push of hot water into the beard beneath his chin and into the long hair at the back of his head. Tonight had been good. Sonny must have picked up a hatful. No problem getting wherever they decide to go tomorrow. I still might run in silence, tears of joy might stain my face and the summer sun might burn me ‘til I’m blind. So, tomorrow? Where would they be sleeping tomorrow night? Not that it matters so long as you keep on the move, he tells himself, so long as you can keep playing and singing. So long as nobody knows who you are or what you’ve done - helped to do. How about going back to mainland Europe? Nice down south in France or Italy at this time of year. The States? Maybe even the States? They’d need a good few nights like tonight for that, and for sure they’d have to smarten themselves up to get through US Customs. Without pre-consideration Campbell’s classic song switches off as his mind begins the construction of a verse metre and a tune to accept the developing lyrics of When Tomorrow. Sometimes, like now, the title comes first. He climbs out of the bath, towels himself dry, humming the opening bars.
‘Is everything all right, Gabriel?’
Easing out of the surreality of his dream he can just make out the shape of her, darker within the darkness of the room. He reaches out from the warmth of the bed, finds her hand, feels the sag of the mattress as she sits down, the brush of filmy nightdress against his arm. ‘You were shouting out,’ she says.
‘Yes? I’m sorry about that. Bad dreams. But a whole lot better now.’ There’s this dryness in his throat, this hoarseness in his voice.
‘It was something - something about messengers. Messengers? And a ladybird, I think,’ she whispers. ‘Crazy. Anyway, I thought my guest might like to tell me a little bit about himself? What says Mister Gabriel Whoever?’
He feels the press of what he knows to be a foil wrapped condom on the palm of his hand. ‘Well, as a matter of fact I was just thinking about that,’ he murmurs. ‘You can tell I was thinking about it, can’t you?’
Her hand no longer in his she says, ‘Oh, is that what it is? It can actually think!’
‘Lucy, lady, do you mind if I switch on the light?’ His voice sounds different.
‘Why not?’ she breathes, ‘All the better to see you with.’
‘Make love’ is without truth for you cannot make love, can you? Whatever love is. And the word intercourse is even worse than fuck and have sex is much, much worse than anything. But as unspecial as this may be, it is more than just a combination of movements and it deserves a better word. Does he not love this Lucy? She him? Even if just a little bit?
Afterwards he wants to sleep but she wants to talk. ‘So come on, Gabriel, tell me, how old are you?’ she whispers. Her fingers are teasing the hairs on his chest. He turns his head on the pillows to look into the pixie face supported by a hand on a bent elbowed arm, fingers buried in all that red, red hair shining damp and tangled in this soft bedside light.. Smiling, he reaches up to touch the tip of her freckled nose. ‘You are beautiful, Lucy,’ he says, ‘But I’m tired and you’re allowed only three questions and I’ll ask three of you. After that you can watch over me whilst I sleep or you can sleep with me if you like. Or I’ll see you in the morning.’ He chuckles quietly, ‘Hey, what the hell am I saying? It’s your bed, your options. I was thirty two at the last count, and yourself?’
The smallest hesitation, ‘Thirty three. Why do you - I suppose you’d have to say - ‘travel around’? You never said anything much about that. It’s obvious to anyone you aren’t, well, born to it. You must know you have a really great talent, Gabriel. For music, I mean.’ There’s the quick play of a return smile around the corners of those lips and those eyes.
He sits up to kiss her forehead. ‘Thank you. I mean, for liking my songs and stuff. And everything. The ‘travelling around’? How else would you and I have met?’
‘Facetious doesn’t count as any answer, sir.’
‘Don’t dodge. Not allowed.’
He brushes back the crinkled strands from in front of her eyes, feeling the coming back of it and as unwelcomed as always. ‘Why am I travelling around?’ He thinks for a moment. ‘Long story, short version, OK? I was working at something a lot of people think quite important and something happened that I didn’t know how to handle.’ He laughs at her expression. ‘Hey, no need to look so worried, Lucy. I’m not dangerous.’ Not now, not really, and not to you, he thinks. He goes on, ‘So off I went. To Europe. France, actually, which seemed as good a place as anywhere else to disappear for a while. I travelled about a bit, got myself a job on a fishing boat out of Marseille. That was enough of a shock to the system for anyone, probably just what I needed. The good bit is, that’s where I met up with Sonny, him and his harmonica. One thing led to another and another thing led to here and you. Have I told you how much of a beautiful woman you are, Lucy?’ He means it. ‘You are or have been married?’ He hopes casually. ‘Any kids?’
‘Yes, and yes. My husband died five years ago. Two boys. They’re away at boarding school.’
‘I’m sorry. About your husband, I mean.’ He pauses, sits up. Disturbed by the reference to children he tried to lighten things up, ‘And do you often take in waifs and strays, lady Lucy?’
‘Please don’t be bloody insulting,’ she says, too quietly. Embarrassed by his own clumsiness he leans over to her, feels the slight turn away of her face.
This après sex, so tender the flower. He says, ‘Yes, sorry. That was just plain stupid of me.’
‘Yes,’ she says. ‘Right then. We’ve had our questions and we’ve even had some answers so now you’ll want to get to sleep.’ He can tell she’d been going to add something else but has changed her mind about that and there is an extra shine in the eyes that will no longer look at his. She leans over to pick up her nightdress from the floor, pulls it over her head and her chest and gets out of bed. ‘Just one more thing, what about in the morning?’
He says, ‘That sounds suspiciously like an invitation to move right along. Yes, we’ll be up and away. But listen, can you hang on a minute?’ He gets out of bed himself, pads into the bathroom, comes back with the pennywhistle. ‘I’d like to do this song for you,’ he says, ‘Actually it’s one I started on in your bath. Bear with me because it’s just a start.’ Naked, sitting up on the bed with his back to the headboard he plays the first introductory notes, low and husky because you can do low and husky on a pennywhistle if you know how. And it’s coming out OK. He closes his eyes, finishes off the intro, takes the instrument from his lips and starts with the lyric of When Tomorrow. He finds all the words of the first verse in place, most of the second verse too and when he’s run out of it he turns to assess how she thinks and he can see the answer without the need for words. He reaches out to touch her. ‘What’s with the tears, Lucy?’ he whispers, ‘Wasn’t all that bad, was it?’
‘It’s beautiful - I’ll not forget …’ The nipples beneath the diaphanous yellow nightdress rise and fall as the woman takes a deep breath. For a moment he abandons the idea of sleep. ‘So tell me, what was it, Gabriel?’ she asks. ‘Do you want to tell me what happened that you couldn’t or didn’t want to try to handle?’
‘What happened?’ He thinks about it, about Dr Gabriel Nicolson and Professor Richard E Smith and the two others at The Oxford Centre for the Molecular Sciences. And he thinks about Ladybird. ‘Tranmittable spongiform encepalopathies happened,’ he whispers, appalling himself just through the saying of it even though he knows she’ll fully understand neither the words nor what lies behind them.
‘Oh right, of course,’ she says, ‘Mad cow disease?’ She’s half smiling, looking at him carefully, unsure of his seriousness.
‘Yes, that’s right.’ He takes a deep breath, ‘Proteinaceous infectious particles happened.’ Now he lies himself down, draws himself up into a foetal ball. ‘And six point five thousand millions of us happened,’ he murmurs, sotto voce. ‘But that wasn’t anybody’s fault, was it? Good night, sweet lady.’
She stands up, switches off the light, bends over to kiss him lightly on the mouth. ‘You talk in riddles and it’s all gobbledegook to me, Gabriel. But whatever, does it really, really matter? Must you really keep moving on? You have to go with the flow. You can’t change the world’
‘No?’ he says.
‘No. Good night.’
He hears the closing of the door, shivers. Oh yes you can, lady, he thinks. Yes you can. No longer tired he gets out of bed, goes into the bathroom, switches on the light to replace his pennywhistle, take a piss, get rid of the condom. As the stream of urine hisses and gurgles into the toilet bowl he thinks about the piece in Microscience that’s sewn into the lapel of his coat. He fetches the coat, sits on the edge of the bath, uses the nail scissors he finds in the cabinet to tease out the old stitches. No longer tired, for some seconds he stares at the plastic envelope then takes out the three years old newspaper cutting and the folded sheet of shiny paper. He reads the extract from MicroScience Magazine, headed, ‘Patterson Lecture, Paris’
‘Professor Richard E Smith of The Oxford Centre for the Molecular Sciences failed to complete his delivery of this year’s Patterson Lecture, ‘The Two Problems of Man’
The Professor began by pointing out that July 6th, the day of the lecture, was the 117th anniversary of Louis Pasteur’s first treatment of a case of rabies. He quoted Pasteur: ‘I beseech you to take interest in these sacred domains so expressively called laboratories… these are the temples of the future, of wealth and well-being. It is here that humanity will grow, strengthen and improve. Here, humanity will learn to read progress and individual harmony in the works of nature while humanity’s own works are those of barbarism, fanaticism and destruction.’
Professor Smith said there was little evidence that today’s worldwide plethora of laboratories has inspired humanity to behave in any way less barbarically, fanatically or destructively than in 1885. In fact science may well have encouraged the reverse. On the other hand, since Joseph Meister recovered from his attack of rabies humanity had indeed grown and was still growing, from 0.5 billions in 1885 to today’s 6.5 billions. Of these, the overwhelming majority continued to suffer educational and physical deprivation whilst the minority were consuming a vast over-share of Earth’s diminishing resources.
Increasing populations and imbalanced, escalating over-consumption. These were the ‘Two Problems Of Man’ that now threatened many forms of life on earth, Mankind himself not excepted.
The Professor said it would be unrealistic to expect any lessening of an individual’s urge to own or to consume, by all means moral or amoral, lawful or unlawful, as much as might be available to him. Fiscal economics - the means by which the planet’s resource is systemically grazed by individuals - was probably too deeply embedded within most societies. In fact personal greed was expected, indeed applauded, to the extent that it had today largely replaced religion as Man’s key raison d’etre.
Human over-population was another matter, he said, one for which microscience may quite soon be able to provide a solution.’
Reading it again now, Gabriel remembers how, at this point, his professor had looked up to where the young Doctor Nicolson was seated in the gallery, had nodded and smiled that gentle, very occasional smile. Gabriel shakes his head, reads on …
‘But, he went on to say, the willingness of people and their governments to take such remedial action as may today be available was far from certain. Be that as it may it was this, the need and the modus for self control of human populations that the Professor said he would be addressing in today’s Patterson Lecture.
The response from a particular section of the audience was vociferously hostile. Proceedings rapidly degenerated into general uproar. Several physical confrontations ensued and the police were called before a clearly disturbed Professor Smith left the podium, unable or unwilling to attempt any further delivery of his paper.
However a complete transcript of the 2008 Patterson Lecture may shortly be accessed through www.mcrosci/Pasteur/2002.
Marc Vandevoorde: L’Institut Nouveau des Sciences Naturelles’
Now he unfolds the yellowing newspaper clipping, not wanting to read it, compelled to read it one final time. History, history … no
Tuesday 19 Nov, 10:31 AM
LONDON (Reuters): The Centre for the Molecular Sciences, Oxford, has announced the death of micro-biologist Professor Richard E Smith. Professor Smith headed a team well known in scientific circles for its work in the field of transmittable spongiform encephalopathies including BSE in cattle and its CJD human equivalent.
The Professor’s controversial views on the possible direction and control of human population often led to protests. Direct actions have been mounted against him and other members of his Oxford team. Several of the protesters have been arrested and fined and in two cases have received prison sentences.
The police statement on the Professor’s death makes clear that foul play is not suspected. Professor Smith, 55, is survived by his wife, Maria, and by his three adult children.
He stands up, lifts the toilet seat, tears the papers into small pieces, drops them into the bowl. If only getting rid was this easy. He levers the flush, watches the pieces swirl and go.
He leaves the light on and the bathroom door ajar. He doesn’t like pitch black, for his demons inhabit the darkness.
The Ross-shire Journal
WESTER Ross-based writer Bryan Islip's second novel, Going with Gabriel, does not disappoint.
From a slow start where he builds up the main character, Gabriel, as a nomadic musician who shuns the limelight, he draws you into an entirely believable scenario with underlying threats of Big Brother watching over you.
Gabriel went underground, to try and escape from the frightening reality of his own scientific discovery, and into his preferred world of music and the street.
He tries to remain anonymous moving along the open road with his friend Sonny Ojitsu, whom he had met during his travels on the continent. But the celebrity hungry media will be loath to let this happen, especially if they hear anything at all about his abandoned science.
With the media and other agencies following his every move, Gabriel is drawn into searching his conscience and to thinking about freedom and the lack of it and about love and no love.
That the author researched many of the scientific ideas is plainly noticeable throughout the rather frightening story of the demise of life as we know it.
Gabriel, hero or anti-hero, you choose, is definitely a man who sticks to this principles in a novel which keeps you guessing until the very end.
The writer's ability to draw the reader into the story is excellent - a real must-read book.
Michelle Frost, Author
'Going with Gabriel'... what would you choose?
There are no stereotype "good guys" and "bad guys" in this story, no clear black and white, only our flawed humanity mirrored in an equally complex lead character - Gabriel the wandering musician. Gabriel's survival may lie in staying invisible, but his magical musical talent makes that near impossible. As he weaves the people he meets into his songs, he tries to keep them from being woven into his heart, but is that possible? Gabriel seems to be hiding from his past, but is he actually trying to run away from his future... How long before the secrets he is running from finally catch up with him? Where is Gabriel really going and does he have any choice?
Gabriel's secret fears are not the stuff of fantasy, they are based on genuine concerns facing this planet as we sit here reading. That's what makes this book more than merely an enjoyable adventure story - the research that Bryan Islip has used to place his fiction upon a foundation of fact. Whether you agree with Gabriel's choices or are appalled by his decisions this book is bound to change the way you look at the world... and that, in my opinion, is the sign of a really good story.
Thought-provoking and provocative in its theme and theories, 'Going with Gabriel' is definitely worth reading.
Dr Paul Burgoyne
Paul Burgoyne, Ph.D,F.Med.Sci is an MRC/National Institute of Medical Research Group Leader working in London on the link between sex chromosome anomalies and infertility.
I enjoyed Going with Gabriel, which is a thoroughly good read but also carries a serious message - it provides a ‘wake up call’ as to the consequences of man’s failure to adequately control human population growth. I first became convinced of the urgency of the problem as a PHD student some 40 years ago, when I heard Professor Aubrey Manning give a Workers Educational Association sponsored lecture on the consequences of unchecked human population growth. It is ironic that today China is being pilloried for rapidly increasing CO2 emissions that contribute to Global Warming, but their enforcement over several decades of a one child policy has been tackling the root cause. Steps such as energy conservation, although essential, are temporary fixes. I earnestly hope that this book goes some way to undermining the taboo that prevents public discussion of socially acceptable ways to limit our numbers before the fiction of ‘Going with Gabriel’ becomes a reality.
It was Paul Burgoyne’s Mill Hill lecture, The rise in human infertility - tragedy or godsend? which I read on-line in 2002 and that helped crystallise the thinking behind the storyline of my novel. It is still worth a look