Louis referred to as The Sanctuary is home to a group of survivors who leave the safety of the walled city in hopes of a better future. We sat down with Percy to talk about The Dead Lands and the end of the world. It was the perfect way to conclude our look at the apocalypse in fiction and to honor a kick-ass novel, as Short Story Month continues. Where did the idea for this book come from? Thanks for reading. Glad you dug it. So I grew up visiting Fort Clatsop so often that I could have been a historical reenactor.
We attended the bicentennial with great fanfare. I always wanted to write about them. A historical novel would have been fun, but there are many already on the shelf.
But post-apocalyptic Lewis and Clark — that was a fresh angle — and a way to make the story feel new and relevant and perilous once more. Oregon appears time and time again in your writing. Was it fun to imagine the state as a post-apocalyptic oasis? I live in Minnesota now, but I grew up in Oregon and know its geography, history, culture, politics and myths better than anywhere else.
But this book has geographic scope, since it reaches from St. Louis to the supposed oasis of the Pacific insert sinister laughter here — since the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow might actually be full of ash and bone. No one should go to the book for a history lesson. You can read the novel without any knowledge of the expedition whatsoever.
But if you do know a thing or two, there are many Easter eggs. Suffice it to say that Arron Burr is an American villain, one so many love to hate, a strong advocate of slavery who conspired to make the Louisiana Purchase a separate republic.
ISBN 13: 9781455528219
The general take is this: here you have an infant nation, a new America, and this expedition might be the thing that determines its future. Exposure to radiation serves as the origin for some strange mutations: sand wolves, large albino bats, and even some extra sensory perception in the characters. First off, I prefer to think of them as human-sized albino bats, thank you very much.
The novel is chunked up into sections, each with their own epigraph. Everyone is overly familiar with the way the world ends. The Dead Lands takes advantage of this. There is a super flu, of course, and there is a nuclear apocalypse, of course. Another writer might have beat a hasty retreat, slunk back to the world of prestigious literary awards and tenure-track gigs, back to the tried and true tropes of realistic literary fiction.
But not Percy. This morning, as the sun rises and reddens the world so that it appears it might catch flame, Clark stands at her sentry post atop the wall. Around it reaches a burn zone of some seventy yards. Beyond this grows a forest with many broken buildings rising from it, black-windowed, leaning messes of skeletal steel and shattered stone. The remains of the St. Louis Arch, collapsed in the middle, appear like a ragged set of mandibles rising out of the earth.
In the near distance, where once the Mississippi flowed, stretches a blond wash of sand. By some freak miracle of fiction, a cluster of humans has survived all these years since by walling itself off in a place in St. William R. David L. The Curiosity.