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.