Get a glimpse of the future in ‘Trashlands’ | Way of life

You have to do what you have to do.

Anyway to survive, nothing is excluded in a crisis. Hunting, scavenging, collecting, you would if necessary. Everything to have a roof over your head and food in your stomach, a few dollars for the most part, maybe an unnecessary gewgaw for comfort. Do whatever you have to do in the new novel, “Trashlands” by Alison Stine, … or die.

Fresh, clean water from a pipe and heat from the ground.

Mr. Fall was the only one in Trashlands who was old enough to remember these things, and so most people were skeptical. Coral, however, had known Mr. Fall all his life, and she knew he wouldn’t make up such things. She figured that at The Els, where flood damage was minimal, people had clean water and heat, but as a gatherer in Scrappalachia, the only thing Coral knew for sure was the plastic.

Picking, in fact, was the only way for her to make any money. Her partner, Trillium, did tattoos for the girls who worked at Trashlands, the brightly lit club that gave its name to the junkyard where everyone lived. Mr. Fall was running a school for children who might show up. From ready-made summer clothes, Foxglove danced for the men, they all relied on plastic for currency and so Coral spent his days picking recyclable plastic from the brackish water of a nearby river.

She had to. She needed to save money to buy her son’s freedom.

Shanghai was small when it was ripped off, and that was the point: children’s hands were more adept at sorting plastic. Coral thought he would still be in a factory, but which one was to be guessed. She often wondered what he would look like now; back then, when he was living with her and Trillium, the boy was angry and dangerous and she always wanted him back.

He made her what she was. She loved him. He was the reason she stayed in Trashlands.

So are you a little concerned about climate change? So take this warning and buckle up tight, because “Trashlands” is about to scare you.

Not in a jump-out-and-boo! sort of, either: author Alison Stine maintains an eerie calm and quiet here, with just enough unfilled blanks to leave readers feeling the kind of cranky discomfort that happens when you anticipate something wrong and, oops , it’s tomorrow. The story is not even really dystopian; it’s more futuristic, taking place in a possible time when society is almost entirely wild and the gulf between a and a nothing is as wide as an ocean filled with plastic waste.

Start it up and you can smell the tale from your reading nook.

The prose is sandy, but not pleasantly.

Have fun thinking that you know how this book ends, but forget it, you don’t.

“Trashlands” isn’t exactly science fiction, but just to its left and a notch higher. It’s a book to share with someone, quickly, to discuss. If you like good future fiction, you must read it.


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