Friday, January 2, 2015

Book Review: Apocalyptic Organ Grinder by William Todd Rose

Apocalyptic Organ Grinder: A Dystopian Novella by William Todd Rose

In this dystopian future, the human race has divided itself into two factions--the clear-skinned survivors who are not infected and the "spewers" who have been infected by the Gabriel virus. The virus causes puss-filled sores which erupt with some nasty fluid that infects others. Being infected isn't a death sentence, it's just a change of status (and eventually complexion). Except that it is a death sentence if one of the clear-skins' Sweepers run across a spewer. The Sweepers patrol near their colonies and keep the infection at bay by killing any Spewers they find. The only way to get rid of the virus is to get rid of all the carriers, right?

When the virus first broke out, a war broke out as well. The war between the spewers and the clear-skin was seemingly futile. The spewers abandoned the old cities and the war when one of their own realized a better way. Living apart and in harmony with nature as much as possible is a much more viable option than a war that leaves everyone dead.

All this history is far enough in the past that it is referred to by the characters in a heightened, fairy-tale like way. The novella begins with this fairy-tale told in a mythic style, though that soon gives way to a straight-forward narrative of one Sweeper who comes into conflict with a Spewer woman whose family had been killed by him.

The story weaves an interesting history with a compelling conflict. The conflict is more compelling because the view point (and the sympathy) switches between the two sides. Both sides are shown with some truth on their sides. Both sides see the other as a danger to be dealt with quickly. Issues of revenge, humane treatment, and innocence naturally flow from the narrative.

This novella is a fascinating study of two sides of a war and of two people who struggle with the horrors in their life. It isn't perfect but it is very interesting to read and think about.

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