debut novel from Todd Wheeler heralds the arrival of a new creative star in the long-fiction universe. This e-published work of speculative fiction offers readers a delightful full-course banquet from a writer who previously whetted appetites with contest-winning short fiction in Writer's Digest and contributions to several topical anthologies. Wheeler is an alumnus of the Southern California Writers' Conference in Los Angeles.
Garbageland presents the imaginative story of main character Esteban (Steve) Quiroga in a future America staggering through a "long economic plateau." As a result of his involuntary civil service assignment to the world's largest waste recovery facility, Steve learns first-hand the consequences of being an indifferent individual detached from larger society. He also uncovers a stunning confluence of personal greed, corporate malfeasance, and government corruption.
The devolution of a democratic society where government is undermined by nakedly profit-motivated commercial interests would seem less likely to the modern reader if only the impacts of the "too big to fail" world banking crisis were not still echoing. The frequent mainstream media reports on SuperPac influence in the current presidential campaign might actually be seen as a precursor to Wheeler's dystopia. Springing organically from a tradition including Orwell, Bradbury, and Vonnegut, Wheeler skillfully deploys satiric humor around the issue of trash versus recycling to critique contemporary consumer consumption culture while still entertaining with a delightfully well-paced story.
It is most appropriate that this work be released exclusively in digital format today. When a major story question is just how much waste materials can be captured and repurposed on a planet daily carrying more inhabitants, a reader can feel a certain justifiable ecologic smugness in toting an entire novel that didn't destroy a single tree in making the electronic journey from virtual bookstore to e-reader.
Finally, in the interest of full disclosure, I readily acknowledge that the writer of this novel and I have been friends since high school! On my honor, my unreserved recommendation of Garbageland is based on the compelling characters and excellent story-delivered by a true craftsman. Please buy this book today, it is available now for the bargain price of $1.99.
Friday, March 23, 2012
Tuesday, March 20, 2012
Black and White, the debut novel by Wes Albers officially released today by ZOVA Books, is such a gripping story that I wanted to put on a uniform and ride patrol with John Hatch. In this story, veteran San Diego cop Hatch struggles with breaking in both a wonder-boy new supervisor and a freshly minted rookie partner while keeping a lid on crime in the rough Mid-City area of America's Finest City. Albers leavens his story setting with authentic details drawn from more than two decades in law enforcement.
In John Hatch, Albers presents a complex protagonist with whom the reader heartily identifies. In a grim story world short on positive role models, Hatch is one of the good guys. His motives are noble even when his methods are questioned.
When Hatch and partner Stevie are the first arriving officers at the scene of a homicide, Hatch can't shake the feeling there's more to the crime than meets the eye. Unwilling to settle for the easy answer to the question of whodunit, his investigating on patrol takes his partner and the reader deeper into the case. Albers uses the followup after the crime to weave in true-to-life elements about street-level policing and challenges facing the thinning blue line of San Diego's finest in a way that deepens story tension.
The reader who signs up to ride along with Hatch gets a fascinating companion on an intense journey of suspense and action. This novel rewards the reader looking for a thinking person's adrenaline rush. Albers, who also serves as Director of the Southern California Writers' Conference, is a gifted story teller. Without giving away the ending to the book, I can honestly say that when I go to sleep in San Diego tonight, I hope there's a cop like John Hatch keeping watch over my neighborhood.
This must-read work of contemporary fiction is now available in print and eBook format.