Books are a passion of mine, and sometimes, I’ve discovered that some of the best gems are books published by smaller publication firms or independent authors. It’s actually one of my favorite things about going to conventions: I get the chance to meet self-published authors and those who write with smaller publication firms. Because each new author I meet, each new author I read, expands my mind and allows me to encounter new friends, new enemies, and new worlds. With this thought in mind, I’d like to take a moment and introduce you to author Eric Johnson, his series “A Life in After World.” The following is a book review of Roe, just one of many stories from After World.
For those of you who saw my first video blog, Eric Johnson’s Life in Afterworld is the source of that gorgeous bookmark I use near the beginning of the video.
After World is just that: a post-apocalyptic world where the sun has gone red and the humanity has changed. After a disaster in the cosmos, the solar system became irradiated, and the planet Mercury fell into the Sun. The sun grew, took on a red color. Electronic devices on planet Earth failed, and within a few months, 95% of humanity died. The poles shifted, plants and livestock died, and humanity changed, evolved. For a thousand years, the red sun slowly killed off the planet, only allowing the heartiest to survive. One morning, the world awoke to find the sun had returned to its familiar yellow glow, producing “After World.”
The series “A Life in After World” is available through Smashwords, Barnes and Noble, Amazon, and Create Space. Anyone seeking to purchase his novels can find them here, at his website along with links to the variety of different places one can find them. The books are available in both paperback and e-format.
The world of After World is no longer completely human, as we know it. Each of these races evolved from the human stock that survived through the Red Sun millennium, with distinct cultures and evolutionary advantages and disadvantages. There are humans, but there are also giants, “Mice,” which are small humans that resemble rodents, and “furries,” humanoids with fur-covered skin. Evolved humanoids have different life spans than standard humans
The main character of Roe is a female furry born “Me’An.” When Me’An is quite small, she is out with her mother, who is murdered by a hunter named Judas. At the begging of his furry slave “Muck,” he takes in young Me’An, shaves her hair, and then renames her “Roe” as short for “rodent.” Roe is a tale of how Roe escapes slavery, returns to her people, and how her people are changed after her time in slavery.
The book feels like it is two different stories. The first half of the tale is of Roe the Slave: Roe who has to do as her master bids, who fears growing her fur back because her master might then skin her for his trophy room, who goes through a number of indignities because her master believes that all non-human humanoids are blasphemous and should be destroyed.
The second half of the tale is about Roe after she returned to her people. She fell in love, had children. She still used the name given to her by her master: Roe, not Me’An. When her son is kidnapped, Roe must find a way to save him.
That’s about all I feel safe telling you without spoiling the novel.
The novel is a quick read, just shy of 200 pages. There are themes of racism (most notably the slave-owner Judas), survival, and triumph. Despite choosing to use her slave-master assigned name of Roe, the titular character is a positive female role model: she finds a way to escape the bonds of her slavery, move on to develop a strong sense of self and pride, and learns to love herself for who she is. She is a daughter, slave, wife, and mother who also learns to accept and love herself despite overwhelming and overbearing odds. All this without being too graphic.
Ordinarily, I do not really enjoy post-apocalyptic tales, as many of them involve the Zombie Apocalypse or create a weird futuristic dystopia with machines ruling the world. Humanity might change or evolve in many post-apocalypse worlds, but much of our own current cultural influences, religion, for example, gets lost within the disaster that starts the crisis.
However, I loved Roe. This is a post-apocalypse story that I actually enjoyed. Society has gone back to nature. Humans have evolved from being ‘just human’ to other options. And there are references to current society culture, technology, and religion. Slave Owner Judas justifies his hatred of furries with the Bible. There are multiple references (towards the end) of cloning and computer technology.
One the hardest problems I have with getting into new Science fiction and fantasy series is getting into the world. This problem does not exist with Roe. There is a wonderful preface to the book, explaining how the world ended and what changes happened to humanity. This preface eliminates much of that period of adjustment that I encounter with any new books series (even The Wheel of Time, arguably my favorite books took some adjustment).
Legal note: I received a free copy of Roe for review purpose. The free-ness of the book did not influence my review in any way.