Crystal World - by J. G. Ballard
What does time, leprosy, crystals and modernist architecture vs. rococo design have to do with anything? In this amazing book (part science fiction and part fantasy) all is revealed. Dr. Edward Sanders is traveling into the African interior to visit friends at a leper colony. He travels down river and is struck by the strange auroral gloom that seems to hang over the jungle along the river banks. Sudden flashes of light appear deep within the jungles gloom. When he arrives at Port Matarre, a stopping place before he continues on up river, he finds the place nearly empty, under the control of the authorities which seem reluctant to let him continue on. In the town square he purchase a beautiful crystal flower. It is only later that he realizes that the authorities are doing their best to intercept the strange crystal flowers and finds there are many carved crystal objects and that they are not carved but hold within their ever refracting depths actual plants and small animals. In the letter from his friend at the leprosy clinic said "The forest is the most beautiful in Africa, a house of jewels" and then about the changes taking place affecting people, "They walk through the dark forest with crowns of light on their heads". As Dr. Sanders learns more and more of the wondrous and strange changes taking place, he experiences the terrible beauty of the crystal world. The writing is superb and beautiful almost lyrical. Highly recommend to folks who like a unique story and beautiful prose.