The Coming of a New Messiah – Axel Cain

Background to New Messiah

John Frank Marshall’s latest novel New Messiah is a dystopian urban fantasy. The year is 2070. Global confederations war over ever-shrinking resources, and the last hope for a polarized society is to utterly change. The combined forces of AI and Biotechnology control the world and decide what is true. The planet is spiraling to destruction when a saviour named Axel Cain appears who speaks with the voice of Gaia[1], and all the rules change.

Read the first chapters

Summary of New Messiah

Messiah Axel Cain was born in Isoland, a vast expanse of darkness, desert, storms and suffering. Created by oligarch Maxim Vorn for AI-Biotech research, Isoland encloses the tribal lands of the Navajo (Dineh). 17-year-old Axel tells of a great change that will re-wild the Earth and restore the biosphere, and his magical words create compelling images that can’t be ignored. Witnessing Axel’s amazing abilities, Maxim takes him prisoner, slaughtering Axel’s village and his family. He intends to break Axel and bend him to his will with the help of psychiatrist Cat (Patricia Tollen), but Gaia has other plans for her Messiah.

Axel affects everyone he meets, including Maxim’s teenage daughter Heidi. The Messiah remains a prisoner in Homested[2] and is tortured physically and psychologically for five years. Under his influence, Heidi escapes her father and becomes a journalist in London, working for a radical organisation seeking to change the world order. Despite her new experiences and relationships, Heidi can’t stop thinking about Axel.

A year later, Axel miraculously escapes with the help of his followers and finds his way to London, the last free city on Earth. Axel’s magical gifts soon amass a following around the world, but sinister forces want to silence the new Messiah. Heidi intends to save him, whatever the cost. The novel reaches a breath-taking climax in the burning Amazon, where Axel must choose between saving the planet or the woman he loves. At the end, a new threat arises from the glowing embers of AI-Biotech. The war to reclaim the Earth is not over yet.


[1] Gaia is the living mind controlling the Earth’s biosphere. A concept from Ancient Greece and the Navajo, popularised by the writings of James Lovelock and microbiologist Lynn Margulis in the Gaia Hypothesis.

[2] A research station and prison at the heart of Isoland, also the luxurious home to the Vorn Dynasty.

Synopsis

The Vorn Dynasty rules over Homested, the biotech factory at the centre of Isoland. Rebellious Heidi Vorn is the seventeen-year-old daughter of oligarch Maxim Vorn. She learns of a boy named Axel Cain, who is uniting the warlike Isoland tribes with golden words and magical deeds. Known as the Messiah, the boy has other strange qualities including resistance to the sickness controlling Isoland rebel forces. Preparing for leadership, Heidi travels with Maxim’s troops to capture the boy. Tragedy follows as Axel’s family die, leaving her deeply troubled.

Axel grows into a resourceful and charismatic young man as five years pass. Forced to survive in the brutal conditions of Homested, his powers are growing. Heidi remains fascinated by him, but Axel blames her for his suffering and the death of his family. At the same time, he can’t stop thinking about her.

Maxim is both curious and fearful of the new Messiah. He develops a conflicted relationship with Axel whilst trying to discover his secrets. Maxim uses psychiatrist Patricia (Cat) Tollen to help unlock Axel’s mind. Cat was imprisoned in Homested a long time before, having witnessed the killing of her climatologist husband John. She agrees to help Maxim with the promise of freedom but finds herself drawn to Axel. Cat concludes he is not delusional and denies Maxim further help, knowing it will cost her life. Psychotic Amica Bright, Axel’s main tormentor and torturer, also falls for the mesmeric young man, but her love is cruel and his rejection leads to a deep hatred as she plans revenge.

The fight for remaining resources and viable habitats has led to war between the two dominant federations AmRus and E-Fed. Abandoning her family and her past, Heidi Vorn is recruited by trillionaire Adam Jovas and joins a radical organisation with a new web channel ‘TheTruth’. Adam was a former colleague of John Tollen and believes he can prevent global catastrophe. Exploiting revolutionary hyper-chaos quantum tech, TheTruth piggybacks on existing networks to reach a global audience. Adam’s blueprint for global survival is based on a book written a century earlier – Small is Beautiful – a Study of Economics as if People Mattered, written by E. F. Schumacher. However, Adam’s version retains a global authority and he wants to be part of it.

Heidi is recruited by Adam and is taken to London, where TheTruth operation is based. England is still an independent country, benefiting from its position as the dominant global financial centre following the drowning of New York. Heidi embarks on a series of disastrous relationships in her attempt to forget Axel Cain and her father, whilst her research forces her to confront the truth about her family and the future of the planet.

Desperate for overall control of AmRus, Maxim turns to Axel. The Messiah’s growing powers divine what is intended and he escapes from Isoland as earthquakes, tidal waves and tornadoes savage the land and destroy cities. Maxim’s wife Sirena dies in a tornado attack that also destroys Homested, and he finally believes in Axel Cain’s gifts, and realises what he has done.

Assisted by his disciples and his brother Wakiza, Axel escapes from Homested. After a grueling chase, he makes it across the wall and leaves Isoland, heading east for the drowned city of New York. Further chaos and catastrophes follow as earthquakes strike, allowing Axel the means to escape by passenger copter, destination London. The centre of global finance, London is the last free city where the truth can still be spoken. Axel does not know Heidi is also there.

Following further twists of fate, Axel joins one of the biker gangs trading in vaccines, and they also become his followers. This particular gang has links to the media and a webcasting channel competing with TheTruth. Having heard Axel’s story, they agree for him to give a live webcast to the world. The threat of Axel Cain’s broadcast is too great a risk for his enemies and death squads are sent in pursuit, led by Amica.

As trailers for the programme appear, it’s not long before many are following the new Messiah. Everyone is talking about the mysterious stranger and the magic of his words. Heidi sees an advertisement for the webcast with a studio audience. She attends with Tom Jovas, Adam’s son, with whom she is having an awkward affair, watching from the front row. Axel speaks, sharing the truth of the world and sowing the seeds of change using compelling images. The interviewers asks if he is the reborn Christ. Axel knows nothing of such things, but he does know that the interviewer’s daughter lies in a coma, and tells her the child will recover. Moments later, the child awakens.

At the end of the interview, Amica Bright attacks the studio. A bomb explodes and kills many. Heidi escapes with Axel and persuades him to hide with her. During this time, they reveal their love for each other. She begs him to stay with her but Axel cannot remain in hiding. He tells Heidi he must travel to the Cradle of Gaia, the remaining Amazonian Rainforest.

While the confederations conspire against each other, a new AI power is in ascendence, able to exploit natural systems (mycorrhizal networks spanning continents, social insects – ants, bees, wasps), and is truly adaptive, using the full power of hyper-chaos. This new intelligence calls itself Tessie, the manifestation of Theresa Vorn, Heidi’s 7-year-old twin who died from an E-Fed viral attack. Maxim invested in creating Tessie with no understanding of the implicationss, but Tessie sees herself as part of the biosphere, and she intends to help Axel. That includes assimilating the AI powering AmRus and E-Fed, and decimating humankind.

Axel is a threat to the world order. The Messiah’s followers around the world are prepared to die for him, destroying data centres and paralysing artificial intelligence. Governments want to understand the source of his power. It becomes clear to Heidi that TheTruth has its own agenda, and Axel alone can save the world from itself.

Deposed Maxim Vorn has suffered greatly and is now convinced that Axel must speak. Assisted by Maxim and Tessie, Axel flies to the Amazon with Heidi and her father, determined to save the last few indigenous peoples and persuade the world to change, in a final live webcast. In a last twist, the psychopathic Amica and her team follow, and shoot down Maxim’s copter. Axel and Heidi survive the crash, along with some of Maxim’s squad. However, Maxim is fatally injured. Before he dies, he is able to tell Heidi that he loves her.

Axel and Heidi must find their way through the jungle to the Crucible, a village deep in the forest. Amica and her team try to follow, despite several deaths. Axel and Heidi are found by Megaron, a revered shaman. When Axel is taken to the village by him, Amica takes Heidi hostage. They torture her and send Axel a simple message. He must choose between saving the world or the woman he loves.