In celebration of this 5th Anniversary of the Premial Atonement blog site, my mind travels yet further back to 1974 (through the marvels of TARDIS technology) and the arrival of Doctor Who in Sector 27 of a planet being newly colonized by people threatened by the criminal encroachments of the Interplanetary Mining Company (IMC). Yes, it’s the same old same old story tragically repeating itself on one virgin planetoid after another—many a courageous community of settlers attempting a sustainable livelihood, being literally undermined by ravenous companies out only for outsized profits at any cost, including that of ‘mere’ human life. You know the routine…unless you’re a devotee of FOX so-called news:
‘The big mining companies don’t bother about people’s rights,’ said Leeson, full of bitterness. ‘They move in, rip the minerals out of a planet, and move on somewhere else. It happened to the planet we got our seed from.’…
…’If it happens here and we even have time to complain to Earth Government, there’ll be no decision from Earth till the miners have finished their job. There won’t be anything left to have rights about!’ [p. 29]
The plot unfolds with growing intrigue as forces of good and evil entwine and tension builds. In chapter 15, “Primitive City,” an instructive dialogue unfolds between the Guardian, a doll-like humanoid figure anciently charged with protecting some fateful structure inside the planet, and Doctor Who, along with his young female assistant, Jo Grant, who had been getting bored with her stalled career plans to become a spy. Their conversation gets embroiled in issues of personal sacrifice, condemnation of the innocent, just laws, the value and purpose of life, the right to continue living, etc.—just what you’d expect from a Time Lord desperately laboring to outwit the grim ratiocinations of legalistic security personnel. Thus a discourse is set up that will play out dramatically in the denouement.
‘I am the Guardian,’ said the little doll figure that seemed to float in the flames. ‘Why have you entered this place?’
‘I was brought here,’ answered Jo.
‘And I came to take her back,’ said the Doctor. ‘May I ask what it is that you guard?’
The Guardian ignored the Doctor’s question. ‘All intruders in this city must die. That is the law.’
‘The race who built this city,’ said the Doctor urgently, ‘were intelligent and civilized. Their laws would not condemn the innocent.’
‘The law must be obeyed,’ said the Guardian.
‘Surely all true laws must be based on justice?’ the Doctor argued. ‘We are strangers to this planet. All we ask is to be allowed to go.’
The Guardian seemed to consider this point. Then it spoke again: ‘You are of superior intelligence, so you may go free.’
Jo hugged the Doctor. ‘Thanks,’ she said to the Guardian.
‘But you,’ the Guardian said to Jo, ‘are of no value. I shall give you to the servants for a sacrifice. It amuses them.’
‘I refuse to leave without her,’ said the Doctor. ‘I am responsible for her safety.’
‘And I,’ said the Guardian, ‘am responsible for the safety of that which I guard.’
‘Does the amusement of your servants warrant the death of an intelligent being?’ said the Doctor.
Again the Guardian seemed to weigh up the doctor’s words before answering. ‘I was sacrificed, and I still live.’
‘Not all are like you,’ said the Doctor, ‘so that is no argument.’
‘I appreciate logic,’ said the Guardian. ‘Is this creature you protect of some value?’
‘She is life,’ said the Doctor. ‘That which is living is always of value. It cannot be replaced.’
‘Therefore,’ said the Guardian, who seemed to be enjoying this debate, ‘do you not eat?’
‘I regret, sir,’ said the Doctor, ‘I do not understand your question.’
‘If you eat flesh then the life of that flesh ceases to exist,’ said the Guardian.
Jo clung to the Doctor’s arm. ‘Tell him we’ll be vegetarians from now on.’
‘I understand your remark,’ said the Guardian. ‘But if one eats vegetation, that too dies. What is your answer to that?’
Jo whispered desperately to the Doctor. ‘Doctor, just plead for my life! I have a right to live!’
‘It’s no good,’ whispered the Doctor. ‘The Guardian only understands logic. Leave this to me.’ He turned back to the little doll creature that floated in the white hot flames. ‘I concede your point, Guardian. All nature kills to eat, but that is for the purpose of continuing life in another form. To throw this girl into those flames would be to extinguish life totally.’
The Guardian thought for a full minute before replying. ‘You make good argument. Both of you may now leave. You will not be harmed.’ Slowly the Guardian faded back into the flames. [pp. 119-121]
We pick up the thread again after events further complicate. Chapter 19 begins:
John Ashe [the acknowledged older leader of the colonists] lay in bed, trying to read in order to calm his troubled mind. He had brought two books with him from Earth: one was on agriculture, from the days before all Earth’s food was taken from the seas; the other was a copy of something written thousands of years ago, and was largely about someone called God. It was this second book he now tried to read, not because he really understood it, but because the strange language fascinated him. It contained four versions of a story about a man who sacrificed his own life for the sake of others. It was this part of the book that most interested Ashe, because it was so difficult to understand. Why, he asked himself, should anyone willingly give his own life for other people? [p. 137]
Hold that thought. After several more chapters, the plot brings us back to the underground chamber, facing the hatch of the white-hot electronic furnace where the Guardian first appeared.
The Guardian addressed itself to the Doctor. ‘Why have you returned?’
‘I was brought here against my will,’ said the Doctor.
The Master [a malevolent renegade Time Lord bent on ruling the universe] still couldn’t believe his eyes. ‘What is it?’ he asked the Doctor quietly. ‘How can it live in that heat?’
‘I think it’s the ultimate development of life on this planet,’ the Doctor whispered.
‘You,’ said the Guardian, looking at the Master, ‘what do you want here?’
The Master smiled. ‘To restore this city and this planet to their former glory. You have here a wonderful invention. With it we can bring peace and order to every inhabited world in the Universe. Your planet will be the centre of a mighty empire, the greatest the cosmos has ever known.’
‘This invention,’ said the Guardian slowly, ‘has destroyed us. Once the weapon had been built our race began to decay. The radiation from its power source poisoned the soil and even the upper atmosphere.’
‘Exactly,’ said the Doctor. ‘The weapon has only brought death.’ He pointed at the Master. ‘This man wants to spread that death throughout the Universe. Only you can stop him. You must destroy the weapon.’
‘I am the Guardian of the weapon, and its radiation gives me life.’
‘Then I am afraid,’ said the Doctor, ‘you must give up your own life so that others may survive.’
‘Don’t listen to such rubbish,’ said the Master. ‘You can continue to live, and I shall protect you! With the Doomsday Weapon, I shall protect all the Universe.’
‘Against what,’ said the Guardian, ‘will you protect the Universe?’
The question took the Master off balance. ‘Well,’ he said, ‘against anyone who tries to attack it.’
‘But the Universe is all matter in Space,’ said the Guardian. ‘So what can attack that which is everything?’
‘I…I shall protect it against itself,’ said the Master, desperately wishing to get out of this discussion. ‘I shall protect it against evil-doers.’
The Guardian said nothing for some moments. Then, it spoke again, ‘The price is too high, the risk too great. The weapon is too terrible to be under the control of any creature that might use it.’
‘Surely it is under your control?’ said the Master, who clearly now doubted whether the Guardian actually controlled the weapon.’
‘No,’ said the Guardian. ‘I am only the Guardian. I have the power, as you saw, to destroy that small metal weapon with which you menaced your companion, but I have no power to destroy you. The controls of the Doomsday Weapon are at your side, there for you to command.’
The Master looked at the control console. ‘Then I am now the master of the Universe,’ he said. He strode over to the controls filled with a sense of victory and total power. ‘That planet you so favour,’ he said to the Doctor, ‘the one called Earth, can become a cloud of ashes at my touch. Even the Daleks will tremble when they know my power!’
‘But this is not to be,’ said the Guardian. It turned to the Doctor. ‘This man proves you are right. The Doomsday Weapon is not only evil, but it creates evil in others. It must be destroyed. And therefore I must die.’
The little doll-like figure of the Guardian began to fade back into the flames. The Master swung round to the open hatch. ‘Just a minute,’ he shouted, ‘you and I can make an arrangement, I didn’t really mean to use the weapon, only to frighten a few worlds.’ The Guardian was already only half visible in the flames. ‘Please come back,’ screamed the Master. ‘I am very clever. I may be able to restore you to the creature you were before you get so small and lived in those flames.’ Only the head of the Guardian was now visible. ‘Let’s discuss this a little longer! Please don’t go away!’ But the image of the Guardian had now vanished completely. The Master turned away from the hatch, angry that he had shown himself so upset in front of the Doctor. ‘Well,’ he said, ‘I’ve still got the Doomsday Weapon. Do you wish to share it with me?’
‘I somehow think,’ said the Doctor, ‘that very shortly there will be nothing to share…’
The Doctor’s words were swamped by a terrible roaring sound from within the furnace. A blistering wave of heat swept out from the hatch. Then the first sheet of flame burst from the hatch. The whole room started to tremble! The Master stared unbelieving at the now belching furnace. ‘You fool,’ he screamed, ‘you’re destroying yourself! You’re destroying the Doomsday Weapon!’
‘And it’ll destroy us if we don’t get out of here,’ said the Doctor. Another great sheet of flame burst from the furnace. The room trembled violently and a huge crack appeared down one of its silvery-coloured metal walls. ‘If you don’t mind, I’m leaving before we get roasted to death. I suggest you do the same.’
The Doctor ran to the doors, then realized the Master was not following him. He turned back to see the Master still staring at the furnace as though mesmerized. ‘Come on, man,’ he called, ‘you’ll be killed!’ The room trembled again as in an earthquake. Flames were now bursting from the furnace. ‘We’ve got to get away!’ called the Doctor.
The Master turned to him. ‘The Doomsday Weapon,’ he said, ‘it will never me mine.’ Then he followed the Doctor. As they left the room flames spewed out from the hatch engulfing the control console. [pp. 156-159]
‘Doctor?’ It was Jo, running down one of the corridors towards them, Caldwell [IMC’s mining expert, who had lost confidence in the legitimacy of its mission] behind her. ‘Are you all right?’
‘None of us is all right,’ said the Doctor, trying to read the map and understand it, ‘not while we’re down here.’
‘What’s happening?’ said Caldwell.
‘I think the whole place is going to explode,’ said the Doctor. He looked up from the map, ‘I think we may find an exit this way.’ He grabbed Jo’s arm and started running again. As they left the spot, the rock wall fell in. [pp. 159-160]
‘So much for your interest in science,’ said the Master, hurrying along behind the Doctor and Jo. ‘The most powerful machine ever created in the Universe, and you let that fool Guardian destroy it all.’
‘Science like that’ said the Doctor, ‘is something we can all do without.’
Captain Dent [Captain of the IMC spaceship] stepped out from behind a boulder, his gun raised. ‘Stop!’ He signaled with his free hand. IMC men carrying their high-powered guns appeared from all sides. Dent turned to Caldwell. ‘Thank you for leading them to us. Now stand over there.’
Caldwell stood speechless. Jo knew by his expression that he had no knowledge of the ambush. Resigned, he walked over to the spot indicated by Captain Dent. The Master walked up to Dent.
‘Congratulations, Captain Dent,’ said the Master. ‘You’re just in time. Put these people under arrest.’
‘Get back with your accomplices,’ ordered Dent, and pointed his gun directly at the Master.
‘You don’t understand,’ the Master protested, ‘I’m the official Adjudicator, sent here by Earth Government.’
Morgan [an ambitious younger officer] stepped forward, also armed. ‘You’re an imposter. Now get back.’ He pushed the Master back in line with the Doctor and Jo. Then he turned to the IMC guards. ‘All right, firing squad, step forward!’
Six IMC guards lined up in front of the Doctor, Jo, and the Master. They raised their guns, ready for the order.
‘You’re insane,’ said Caldwell, speaking to both Dent and Morgan. ‘You’re murderers!’
Dent turned to him. ‘Caldwell, if we didn’t need you as our mining expert, you’d be over there with them. So shut up!’ He turned to the IMC guards. ‘Take aim!’
Suddenly Winton’s [a young leader of the colonists] voice called out from somewhere among the surrounding boulders. ‘Drop those guns, all of you!’
Dent turned and fired wildly. All around colonists rose up from behind the boulders shooting at the IMC men. The Doctor grabbed Jo to pull her to safety. The IMC men fired at any colonist’s head they could see appearing over the boulders. But they had to fire from crouching positions in the open, whereas the colonists all had the protection of the ring of great rocks. Morgan fell dead as a colonist’s bullet hit him, and Captain Dent’s gun was shot from his hand. Within moments half the IMC men were either dead or wounded.
‘Surrender,’ called Winton. ‘You will not be killed.’
‘We give in,’ Dent shouted. He called to what remained of the IMC guards. ‘Throw down your guns!’
The IMC men dropped their guns, and raised their hands in surrender. Now, from all sides, colonists appeared from behind the boulders. Winton ran forward to the Doctor and Jo. ‘Are you two all right?’
Jo let Winton help her to her feet. ‘But the spaceship,’ she said, ‘it exploded.’
‘Captain Dent left one lookout to make sure no one should escape by leaving the ship,’ said Winton. ‘I stayed behind and knocked him out. That let all the others get out of the ship to safety before it took off.’
‘Did you make it take off by remote-control?’ asked the Doctor.
Winton shook his head. ‘No. John Ashe went up with it. He insisted on doing so. He gave his life for the sake of the rest of us.’ He shrugged. ‘Maybe he was a bit crazy.’
‘Perhaps,’ said the Doctor, ‘or a saint.’ [pp. 160-162]
The colonists stood in a circle around the big grave they had dug a little way from the main dome. Most of the IMC men had been safely locked up in their spaceship, ready to be sent back to Earth. But Captain Dent, Caldwell, and three guards were present at the ceremony to bury their own dead. Colonists and IMC guards killed in the final battle were laid side by side in the grave. Gentle rain fell from the clouds, soaking the colonist’s poor clothing and making the dusty soil turn into mud. When all the bodies were in the grave everybody turned to Winton, expecting him now to speak as John Ashe had done before. He turned to the Doctor. ‘You say something,’ he pleaded.
‘No,’ said the Doctor, ‘it has to come from one of you. This is your land now.’
Winton turned to face the colonists and the IMC men who stood sullenly as prisoners on the other side of the communal grave. ‘I don’t know how to make speeches,’ he said, ‘but I can tell you how I feel. Our people didn’t die for nothing. To get anything worth having, like freedom, sometimes you have to fight, and sometimes you have to die. So now it’s up to us to make this colony work, for the sake of the people who died.’ He paused, then turned to the five IMC prisoners. ‘Your people died for the wrong things, but I’m still sorry they got killed.’ He looked down into the grave. ‘There’s one man missing—John Ashe. We can’t bury him, but we can always remember him. He died so that we could live.’ [p. 164]
It was soon time for the Doctor and Jo to leave the brave pioneers to their tasks.
The Doctor thanked the man and then hurried over to Jo. “I know where the TARDIS is. I think it’s time to go.’
Jo was busy pouring tea for the others. ‘But there are so many things to do here, Doctor. Are we in a hurry?’
‘Stay if you want to,’ he said to her. ‘But I’ll never be able to explain it to the Brigadier [Lethbridge-Stewart, of the United Nations Intelligence Taskforce (UNIT), at whose headquarters the Doctor operated a laboratory].’
Jo Smiled. “All right. I’ll just say goodbye to everybody.’
The Doctor checked her. ‘No. They’ll all start asking where we came from again. Let’s just slip out while they’re enjoying their victory.’ He took Jo’s hand and together they went out of the dome. The rain had stopped now, and the sun was shining brilliantly.
‘Look!’ said Jo in wonder. ‘It’s all green!’
As far as the eye could see the one-time impoverished land was shooting up tiny blades of grass. Even the little shrub plants had grown new leaves.
‘We’d better be quick getting to the TARDIS,’ the Doctor laughed. ‘The speed things can grow here, we may find ourselves having to cut through a jungle!’
They hurried away from the dome. [pp. 165-166]
*London: A Target Book/the Paperback Division of W. H. Allen & Co. Ltd, 1974. Based on the BBC television serial Doctor Who and the Colony in Space by Malcolm Hulke, by arrangement with the British Broadcasting Corporation.
Ah, well, I suppose I should have issued a spoiler alert since I’ve given away the climax of this surprising book. My daughter dropped no hint about these plot elements when she gave me the used paperback, although she read it before passing it along. I hope I will be forgiven for giving away the ending of this old series of TV episodes, especially in view of its age. I confess, stumbling across a reference to the central theme of Jesus’ career in this extremely popular British science fiction/adventure/comedy series—the longest-running series in television history—was startlingly unexpected, and delightfully so. Many fine screenwriters have contributed to its success, including Douglas Adams (who, coincidentally was also born on March 11), originator of the outrageously funny The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.
So why would a writer fetch way back to the first century for a theme? For one thing, it’s perennial. Western civilization is profoundly influenced by the New Testament narrative. This author gives it a fresh twist by situating his own story far into the future and by indicating that by then it had become forgotten out of memory as the common heritage of the colonists’ civilization. Science, exploitative industries, doomsday weapon—sure, these we know. But Jesus?
Malcolm Hulke (1924-1979), whose “scripts for Doctor Who were known for avoiding black-and-white characterization and simplistic plotting” and “were noted for providing a wealth of additional background detail and character depth” (according to Wikipedia), evidently saw an intriguing way of giving the old, old story a bit of a comeback. “Man Bites Dog”—now there’s a headline that might still make the news. But the heart of the Gospel may by now have become somewhat hackneyed even by comparison with that old cliché. However, I don’t have to try too hard to remind myself that multitudes of American schoolchildren are migrating through our educational system without even a passing acquaintance with the old Story. How is “The Bible as Literature” faring in schools these days? And that’s not even taking into account immigrants of Islamic heritage who may never be “forced” to confront the Bible firsthand in school. And if not there, then where?
So I’m cheered by Hulke’s venture into ancient recollection and re-framing. I’m one to cheer on further adaptations, too. Naturally, certain elements may get highlighted and others dropped for artistic purposes. This process raises questions about the motivational effects of any particular blend of narrative elements. Such attempts suggest interesting questions about the shape of the original narrative, and whether even traditional theological processing has really done that Story justice.
Hulke necessarily gives his own context for the “four versions of a story about a man who sacrificed his own life for the sake of others” that John Ashe reads “in order to calm his troubled mind.” He accomplishes this in the conversation among the Guardian, the Doctor, and Jo. The Doctor insists that all laws should be based on justice, so any arbitrary sacrifice of human life is out of the question. The Guardian alleges that he was sacrificed yet managed to stay alive, but the Doctor counters that the Guardian is a different form of life than most in the universe, so is an exception to the observation that sacrifice kills life.
However, it is interesting to note that the Guardian, having survived being sacrificed (which the novel does not explore further) is indeed an exceptional form of life that can endure the conditions of the electronic furnace. (In the excerpt that followed, the Doctor ventures the opinion, “I think it’s the ultimate development of life on this planet.”) Not exactly the sort of immortality we may wish for, but evidently a superior sort of survival than before. So although this is not resurrection in the fully Biblical sense, it is an artfully contrived demi-form that moves the narrative suggestively along to its finale.
The ‘logic’ of the Doctor finally prevails when he argues that the sacrifices of life we observe in the plant and animal realms are “for the purpose of continuing life in another form,” and not simply “to extinguish life totally.” This dialogue should be kept in mind as the plot unfolds.
John Ashe found it difficult to understand why anyone should “willingly give his own life for other people.” The supplied earlier context hints at why, but he was not in on that exchange. Yet the very difficulty of understanding the reasoning of the story is what makes it so intriguing for him. The following page of this chapter explains that the colonists had become alienated from Ashe, but he “believed that with patience he could win back the support of the colonists. He knew Winton meant well, but the colony needed Ashe’s calmness and maturity. He got back onto his bed, and tried once more to read his book” (p. 138). He was pondering how to conciliate his fellow colonists.
The third excerpt above brings the evil Master into the conversation with the Guardian. In the interests of his takeover of the Universe with the assistance of the Doomsday Weapon, the Master attempts to ingratiate himself with the Guardian, declaring his intention “To restore this city and this planet to their former glory.” Ah, yes. To make it “great again!” Where have we heard that before (well, if not before 1972, when this novel actually appeared, certainly before 2972, when this episode is fictionally set)? Fat chance of that happening during this guy’s watch!
However, here the Guardian reveals that the planet’s previous civilization built the weapon. But the leaking of radiation from it has actually poisoned the planet, including its former inhabitants, except for a few primitives and mutant priests, so that it only sustains most living forms with great difficulty. And although the Guardian itself thrives on this energy, it is eventually deadly to other forms. Accordingly, the Doctor issues a gentle and noble but unwelcome ultimatum to the Guardian” ‘[Y]ou must give up your own life so that others may survive.’ The Master’s response is faintly reminiscent of Genesis 3: ‘Don’t listen to such rubbish,’ said the Master. ‘You can continue to live….’
During the course of the ensuing dialogue with the self-aggrandizing Master, his dastardly intentions are betrayed when the Guardian unreels enough rope to let him hang himself by his own words. It then becomes all too evident that the Doctor was, strictly speaking, correct. And since the Guardian is a creature of strict logic, he faces the Doctor and unemotionally concludes, à la Spock: ‘This man proves you are right. The Doomsday Weapon is not only evil, but it creates evil in others. It must be destroyed. And therefore I must die.’ In short order, the Doomsday Weapon starts to self-destruct, and the others flee for their lives.
Meanwhile, the colonists, who had been forced by the IMC troops into their old spacecraft in preparation for staging a takeoff that would deliberately doom the occupants, had all been secretly rescued. However, it was deemed necessary for liftoff to occur as scheduled in order to mount a surprise attack on the IMC’s armed forces. John Ashe volunteered to undertake this diversion…at the calculated cost of his own life. His suicide mission accomplished, the colonists proved victorious and regained possession of the planet.
Now notice how the author handles this heroic deed:
‘Did you make it take off by remote-control?’ asked the Doctor.
Winton shook his head. ‘No. John Ashe went up with it. He insisted on doing so. He gave his life for the sake of the rest of us.’ He shrugged. ‘Maybe he was a bit crazy.’
‘Perhaps,’ said the Doctor, ‘or a saint.’
Ashe gave his life for the sake of the rest…so that they could live. He had determined to follow in the steps of the Man he read about in the old book. Such a deed may still look “a bit crazy,” especially if a remote-control takeoff could have been engineered to pre-empt its necessity. This is worth a bit more analysis.
Books on the nature of the Atonement will often criticize the so-called exemplary theory of atonement as deficient on the grounds that if Christ had merely intended by getting crucified to set an example of divine love for us to follow in his steps, such a deed still would not have actually “dealt with the problem of sin.” Such a deed is likened to a person plunging into a deadly rapids in order to demonstrate love…but without actually managing to save another person from otherwise certain drowning in those rapids. Something more is called for.
Point taken. It would indeed be “a bit crazy” to risk death unless it resulted in life for others. Lifeguards are trained (full disclosure: I was so trained) to save others without losing their own lives in the bargain. But the point, in any case, is precisely to save lives, not to die unnecessarily. If there is to be a crucifixion, it must be necessary somehow so as to save other lives, not simply as a gratuitous spectacle of self-immolation. It must be efficacious for the sake of others. Such a self-sacrificing deed would be worthy of a “saint.”
In the story before us, if the spaceship could have been launched successfully by remote-control, without compromising the ultimate mission of saving the colonists and neutralizing their enemies, then for John Ashe to pilot it to its fiery end was merely suicidal without being necessary. For him to “insist” on going up despite knowing it was unnecessary would have been truly “a bit crazy,” and not “for the sake of the rest of us.” A nagging ambiguity therefore attends the above quotation.
That said, I would give the author the benefit of the doubt on this point. Perhaps Ashe wanted this liftoff operation to be more fail-safe than the old rickety ship—for that’s how it’s described in the book—seemed to justify. That would make his risk more necessary.
In any case, if Ashe, realistically speaking, can be assumed to have had sufficient time behind the scenes to delve into the four versions of the story that so captivated him, he could have arrived at the answer to his question, “Why…should anyone willingly give his own life for other people?” For Christ well knew that by surrendering to the benign will of his Father, and accordingly surrendering to the murderous will of those he came to save, God would avenge him of that heinous injustice by doing him the justice of raising him from the dead to superabundant immortal life, first of all, and thereby supplying him with an overflowing bounty of the Holy Spirit to give away in graciousness to anyone who would believe this life-giving Proclamation! For the Gospel explicitly promises believers our own individual resurrection from the dead—this is the very essence of our salvation. This fact puts a rational spin on the sacrifice of this present life. And all the more so if it means that others can continue to live out more of their present lives rather than dying prematurely.
If this scenario be granted, then the force of Winton’s final solemn words at the graveside is preserved at full value: ‘There’s one man missing—John Ashe. We can’t bury him, but we can always remember him. He died so that we could live.’
However, significantly, I think, Malcolm Hulke does not end his story there. The final lines of my last excerpt above has new life overtaking the whole planet at record speed! Interestingly, although this seems more a result of the self-sacrifice of the Guardian, it fits hand-in-glove with the self-sacrifice of John Ashe. This elegant little novel has a double-barreled resurrectionary punch! Like the two goats on the ancient Day of Atonement, they unite to tell a singular story of PREMIAL REDEMPTION without a hint of penal subtext. Herein is love. Neither the Guardian nor John Ashe suffered punitively, but voluntarily, in expectation of a vivifying outcome for others. There was no penal substitution in this fine story—only premial inclusion. This, moreover, is my premial conclusion.