Howard V. Hendrix (Lightpaths, Standing Wave) weighs in with this very philosophical tale of an altered and divided humanity in the aftermath of a plague of apocalyptic proportions. Dabbling with the idea of multiple universes, Empty Cities of the Full Moon leaps back and forth through time -- in the prologue, all the way back to 1966 for a very brief moment. Most of the story's action, however, takes place just as a bizarre and deadly shapeshifting disease is beginning to take hold in the early 2030s, as well as in the year 2065, as the grandchildren of the plague's survivors try to redefine the shape of the world and the meaning of "human."
Some of the Empty Cities territory will seem familiar to fans of Hendrix's "Tetragamatton" series, but readers new to the Pushcart Prize-nominated author's work will no less enjoy immersion into this tale of a devastated and decimated human race. Hendrix screens his meditations on the shamanistic ideal through a nearly sheer bio- and nanotechnology end-times adventure story. It's Left Behind for the mystically agnostic yet rational set.
A pandemic with its origins in a biotech "cure" for mental disease decimates (squared) the human population of Earth. A group of survivors handpicked by one of the wealthiest and power-hungry men in the world sequesters itself on a Caribbean island, safe for the most part from the manifestations of the plague's madness. Civilization is destroyed, and the great works of man are reduced to rubble and ash by insane victims of the disease.
When the dust clears, humanity is sharply divided -- the Trufolk, or Ur, like those chosen few on a paradisical island; the tribal Werfolk, shapeshifters seen by the Trufolk as primitive, even subhuman competitors who must be destroyed; and the immortal but barren aquatic Merfolk, created by Cameron Spires, president of the island nation, to guard his last small bastion of technological culture.
When one of the island's elder scientists voluntarily exiles himself to the East Coast of the former U.S., he starts a chain reaction of investigation and discovery into the plague's origins that will absolve some and damn others. The scientific cum spiritual enlightenment his abjuring ultimately brings about will put Cameron Spires' carefully laid plans for a race of uberhumans on a far different course -- one that intersects with nothing less than the universal consciousness that is the plague's ultimate meaning and reason.