A future, medievalesque society in the remains of New England faces a new barbarism in this debut sci-fi novel.
Two centuries after a “Cataclysm” laid waste to humanity, the former Connecticut coast is now a patchwork of settlers and “scavs” (scavengers), subsisting and preying upon one other among the ruins and shattered technologies of ancestors now seen as demigods. Many of the region’s denizens cleave to religious sects that evolved from ill-remembered pre-Cataclysm ideas. “Greens” aren’t environmentalists, but degraded followers of a military commander named Kevin Green, whose (allegedly) transcribed words comprise their sacred text. The Greens rule the “Grotons”—heavily armed, weapons-obsessed invaders from the old nuclear submarine base, where one doomsday device may still be operational. Haven is a Catholic-style abbey, risen from a long-gone college community; its monks worship no gods, but they do venerate rare written knowledge (“Logos”) and protect it from periodic raids by “Burners,” who seek to destroy all written matter. The monks are under increasing attack by Groton fanatics, and they send out an emergency party to seek the aid of a powerful duke. It turns out that a vital “key” to some exceptionally dangerous technology has been stolen by a Gollum-like scav called Skrimshanks. Meanwhile, Jeremiah Ford, the rebel son of a religious zealot, carries heretical intel that could undermine the Kevin Green cult. Although Perldeiner’s novel is published by a small press specializing in post-apocalyptic fiction, his saga of retro-medieval violence and intrigue may appeal to a readership looking for more than mere body counts. It doesn’t lack for mayhem, but it also shows fealty to Walter M. Miller Jr.’s 1960 classic of a revived Dark Ages, A Canticle for Lebowitz. There are rather a lot of quests and MacGuffins in play that result in characters scurrying furtively about—until a third-act conflict of J.R.R. Tolkien-like proportions with a Tom Clancy-like twist. The author has also invented a Latin-influenced argot for many of the characters (with a helpful glossary upfront), but it doesn’t detract from the rousing yarn.
Creative anachronisms abound in this exciting tale of a post-apocalyptic future.