Set four hundred years in the future, Frederick Turner's epic poem, The New World, celebrates American culture in A.D. 2376. As the book opens, the nation-state has been fragmented and replaced by new political forms: the Riots, violent anarchistic matriarchies, whose members are addicted to psychedelic joyjuice; the Burbs, populations descended from the old middle classes and now slaves to the Riots; the Mad Counties, religious theocracies dominated by fanatical fundamentalists; and the Free Counties, Jeffersonian democracies where arts and sciences flourish.
Within this setting, Turner's epic tells the story of a tragic family feud involving Ruth Jefferson, daughter of the political leader, Shaker McCloud; Antony Manse, a handsome aristocrat; Ruth's half-brother, the ambitious Simon Raven McCloud, who is under the influence of his grandmother, the witch Faith Raven; and the hero, James George Quincy. When banished from the Free Counties, the vengeful Simon Raven transforms himself into a messianic figure who inspires a league of Mad Counties to launch a holy war to annihilate the Free Counties.
Turner's epic calls for a cultural commitment to transcend the contemporary choice between blind faith and hedonistic relativism. This bold work challenges many conventional assumptions about modern poetry and its relationship to other literary forms and the culture at large.
Praise for Frederick Turner
"This is a grand, glowing poem.... A thousand bravos!" - James Merrill, Pulitzer Prize winning poet
"The New World may be the first straight-forward heroic epic since Tennyson that really works. Turner's stroke of genius was to place the story in the future and tell it in a science-fiction mode. Suddenly all the epic formulas become not only permissible again but credible." - Dana Gioia
"What astonishes me most is the way this poem builds and builds. To begin with, I was taking note of particular things that I found thrilling or delightful, but the deeper I got into the narrative, the more sustained the richness of it as a whole, and the seamless coherence of the tragic horror with the joyousness that I see as its central meaning. The poem inspires us to go back to the epics of the past, whose roots it shows us to be so much alive after all." - Amy Clampitt
"If the use of epic poetry is to be more than a conceit, it has to be in the service of a tale for which it is better suited than the novel.... [The epic poem] has historically enjoyed a greater ability to convey a culture's character and spirit through language. Turner uses the strengths of the epic form to good effect.... The New World is an ambitious work and Turner pulls off what he set out to accomplish: He's written good science fiction while creating and presenting a possible future in a way that a novel could not have accomplished. It's good poetry, too." - Dani Zweig
"Myth, religious parable, and science fiction are genetically recombined into lyrical new forms of being. Turner has taken up the most ancient challenges of the poet, delivering work as intellectually charged as formally challenging." - Paul Lake
"Frederick Turner comes across in his poems as a man of impressively broad experience, intellectual brilliance, and originality. His vocabulary alone is a tour de force. He's at his best when he unleashes his extraordinary powers of observation." - Richard Tillinghast