I’m pleased to welcome Grant Price with a guest post. Grant’s second novel, By The Feet Of Men, a dystopian story set in Germany, has just been published. Here’s the synopsis from Goodreads…
WANTED: Men and women willing to drive through the valley of the shadow of death. The world’s population has been decimated by the Change, a chain reaction of events triggered by global warming. In Europe, governments have fallen, cities have crumbled and the wheels of production have ground to a halt. The Alps region, containing most of the continent’s remaining fresh water, has become a closed state with heavily fortified borders. Survivors cling on by trading through the Runners, truck drivers who deliver cargo and take a percentage. Amid the ruins of central Germany, two Runners, Cassady and Ghazi, are called on to deliver medical supplies to a research base deep in the Italian desert, where scientists claim to be building a machine that could reverse the effects of the Change. Joining the pair are a ragtag collection of drivers, all of whom have something to prove. Standing in their way are starving nomads, crumbling cities, hostile weather and a rogue state hell-bent on the convoy’s destruction. And there’s another problem: Cassady is close to losing his nerve.
Book links ~ Amazon UK | Amazon US | Waterstones
Now over to Grant…
Choosing a different road
When human beings are faced with a crisis, one of the most tantalising options is to do nothing. If you close your eyes or walk the other way, there’s a chance the crisis will resolve itself. If it does, you praise yourself for being strong-willed and shake your head at everybody who leapt into action unnecessarily. What you don’t do is concede that you were lucky – and that next time the crisis may spiral out of your control.
Early on in By the Feet of Men, my dystopian climate fiction novel, the two protagonists, Cassady and Ghazi, are driving through the blasted, bleak landscape of Germany in their indomitable truck Warspite. After deciding to head to a town half a day’s drive away, they take Warspite onto the Watched Road, a highway in passable condition which is guarded by a loose association of men and women calling themselves the Agis. The Agis don’t leave their posts except to destroy those who would threaten the road. As the description in the novel states:
“They were married to the highway and the system they’d created and so they simply waited, contending with the heat and the flies and the monotony and the sudden violence, until death came for them.”
The name Agis is, perhaps obviously, taken from the Greek word ‘aegis’, meaning ‘protection’. What might not be so obvious is that I christened the group out of a sense of irony. Despite the world changing around them and new rules being written, these people stubbornly cling on to the old ways, watching over something that doesn’t need protecting, in the hope that life will one day return to ‘normal’. What they don’t understand is that this climate-ravaged world is the New Normal.
While on the highway, Cassady and Ghazi discuss rumours that the Agis are starting to charge drivers a higher toll to use the road. Of course they are: there are fewer drivers with each passing year, so they have to make up the shortfall somehow. This is the downward spiral the Agis are trapped in – yet they ignore it. In real life, the climate crisis is gathering speed, but the true crisis we face (at least in the West) is one of inertia. As long as we, like the fictional Agis, remain married to the system we’ve created – one in which political squabbling, simplistic solutions, populism and the relentless pursuit of destructive economic growth are the norm – we’ll be unable to make meaningful progress in ‘saving’ the planet.
The Watched Road may seem like the simplest, most stable option available. But this is an illusion. It is protected by people too afraid to look beyond the horizon to see what the alternatives are. Its purpose is one of convenience, not of necessity, and it is open only to those who can afford it – and that number is dwindling all the time. What the Agis, like some of us in the real world, don’t realise is that when there’s no longer anyone knocking at the door to use the road, all you have is a desolate strip of tarmac leading nowhere.
Thanks so much for that, Grant