I just finished the book over the weekend in (yee haw) Texas. I've got a lot to say!
The thing that struck me time & again was the blood. There's so much of it in this novel. There's figurative, mythical, and literal blood and flesh everywhere. I think the most disturbing blood references are not the literal ones (though Trigg is seriously twisted and I might have to post separately about his lucrative blood and tissue business), but the ones examining the idea of sangre pura or blue blood.
Clinton, the homeless Vietnam vet prone to scary outbursts and professorial rants, says toward the end of the book, "Nothing could be black only or brown only or white only anymore. The ancient prophecies had foretold a time when the destruction by man had left the earth desolate, and the human race was itself endangered. This was the last chance the people had against the Destroyers, and they would never prevail if they did not work together as a common force"(747).
I think that this is the ultimate message of Almanac, if there is indeed one single message.
The characters in the book who claimed some of that "only"ness really, as Clinton says, cannot "be". The blue bloods are the most damaged and dangerous characters. Beaufrey is my idea of a real nightmare; Serlo is a Nazi and 100% insane, and Judge Arne fucks his "Beloved Basset Hounds" when he wants to relax. These folks are so convinced that the blood running through their veins is superior that they aren't even intelligible to the rest of us:
"So much for blue blood. Those with sangre pura were entirely different beings, on a far higher plane, inconceivable to commoners. They might crave roasted human flesh. What of it? There was nothing in the world that money could not buy" (535).
These men "cannot be". They play with people, with commoners, like pieces on a chess board. They are so damaged, so inhuman, that they have no human connection. Serlo's pleasure comes from mental torture. His sexuality consists of masturbating into steel tubes so that his pure seed can be preserved for his rocket ship blue blood paradise. Beaufry is a sadist, and hates women -- "Beaufrey had started by hating his mother; hating the rest of them was easy" (102). And Judge Arne, well, I've said it above -- he's the freakiest of the freaks.
I'll write more on this as time goes by -- I just had to get my initial thoughts out before they left my mind!