Anyone familiar with Pendell’s other work, especially his unique Pharmako trilogy, will be somewhat prepared for this dense little condensation of reverie and fact, poetry and science, occultism and pithy common sense.

But where the Pharmako books indulge themselves luxuriantly among the mysteries of the botanical and chemical worlds, The Language of Birds, a study of divination and chance, is terse — as brief as the moments it hopes to inspire, when we feel we can slip through the gap between order and randomness, sensing spontaneous significance.

Seamlessly stitching together quantum physics with the history of divination, Chomskian grammar alongside the deft symbolism of esoteric emblems, Pendell’s talents and affiliations — software engineer, poet, psychonaut, student of Norman O. Brown — seem to make him eminently qualified to present the world with such a concise and rich summary of such a slippery topic. A particular sentence perfectly expressed for me the wry wisdom that ensures the success of this book:

Dice seem unnecessary, and slightly vulgar: reason is chancy enough.

Published in style by Daniel Schulke’s Three Hands Press, it’s a fine little work.