The Unreasoning Mask

Philip Josť Farmer
The Unreasoning Mask Cover

The Unreasoning Mask


Philip Jose Farmer's 1981 Science Fiction novel The Unreasoning Mask is actually my first dip into his work - last year I read my way through his series The Dungeon, but as he was more a guiding force on that series, and didn't actually author any of the six titles included, it's not quite the same.

The novel is definitely space opera, as much of the plot follows a spaceship captain who has stolen a holy relic from one planet and spends the majority of the story on the run from the inhabitants of that planet, as well as his own government, and finally a world killing being that appeared as soon as he removed the item in the first place.

Captain Hud Ramstan, a non-practicing Muslim, is in charge of a shape-changing spaceship with a rudimentary sense of intelligence and a fierce loyalty to him. Initially painted as a straight-forward, morally black-and-white character, Ramstan's world is through into turmoil when he steals an idol from a world his ship is visiting for no conscious reason, even the captain is unable to understand why he has taken the item, called the glyfa, until it begins talking to him and lets him know that together then must work to save the universe.

The book does get pretty metaphysical, exploring questions of godhood and different levels of reality, but I found it to be a pretty solid science fiction novel, and one that definitely has me interested in reading more of the author's work.