What is Free?

17 Nov

I am, of course, by now ( one accrues some credit for durability in the book world, if for nothing else) the recipient of multitudes of books. Much has been  and continues to be said about  the wonder of a life surrounded by books —which I would second if not for the times when I uproot myself and have to move to a new abode (How many of you own a two wheel hand truck?) One of the pleasures of  a quotidian  activity such as opening packages from book publishers is the delight of discovering   unusual books on unusual subjects by unusual people occasionally retailed (I used this word loosely)in unusual ways.

Such was the case when I  received a new novel by Scott Phillips (Ice Harvest, Cottonwood) Rut, published by Concord Free Press.  What caught my attention was Concord Free Press’s claim to be giving  the entire press run of Phillips’s Rut (5010 copies) away for free. Which is a good deal if Phillips’s dystopian look at the near future is worth reading— which it was (is).

If large clusters of Americans of the United States variety (remember Mexicans  and Canadians and Nicaraguans are also Americans)are rabidly disappointed now with their lives —which has led to wildly irrational politics and the rise of dubious demagogues—the near oil peak future (see James Kunstler’s The Long Emergency) will not be any relief or improvement. Phillip’s novel hints at unexpected political reorganization to meet the waning (carbon based) energy supplies withing an interesting and dramatic narrative set in a small town in Colorado struggling after its tourism revenues disappeared with the shift of tourism to activity of the very wealthy.

Along with Kunstler’s fictional companion novel, A World Made By Hand and it sequel The Witch of Hebron, Rut may signal a burgeoning sub genre, the post oil peak novel.  Such fictions would give readers a sense to what the 21st century may devolve— not an unworthy past time.

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