Lauren Razavi’s amazing story on Medium about Rwanda highlights the incredible potential of Africa in the 21st century. In the second half of the Eupocalypse, the Horn of Africa is the focus for the flourishing catallaxy which emerges when the prop of petroleum and plastic is yanked out of the existing world order. Rwanda has done it in the real world, by opening to intellectual and economic exchange with Asia, and more importantly, by removing barriers to innovation and entrepreneurship. The importance of this step cannot be over-emphasized. Once humans are freed from swimming with the cinderblock of command and control, there is no limit to what we can accomplish.
There’s a reason the first chapter of Machine Sickness starts in the South. There’s a reason Deirdre Davis is a southerner. That wasn’t by chance, and it wasn’t solely because I chose to follow the classic writer’s advice to “write what you know.” I have lived in the southern USA for more of my life than anywhere else, but I was born in the West, grew up in New York City, went to undergrad school in Chicago, got my Doctor of Chiropractic degree in Atlanta, and now I live in Mexico.
The shame and rage that Americans feel about the hypocrisy of a nation supposedly based on freedom that compromised that principle for political unity, is othered and alienated and transferred to the South. To read mainstream media, you would think that slavery, legally-mandated segregation, racial massacres, and lynching were isolated only in the South and performed only by Southerners, whereas the truth is that these abhorrent practices were common in the North even after slave importation was banned and even after the passage of the 13th Amendment. Reading mainstream media, you’d imagine that the people whom it is still okay to refer to by ethnic pejoratives like “redneck” and “hillbilly” (usually preceded by the word “ignorant”), were the ones responsible for slavery, when the “poor white trash” of the South were overwhelmingly not slave owners and some suffered from a job market depressed by slave labor. While the elite generals of the Union were wined and dined by plantation owners, the 1-percenters of their day, they were not. The plagues of domestic violence, alcoholism, and learned economic helplessness descended through generations.
The historical awareness among Scots-Irish descendants of being on the losing side of the Civil War is exacerbated by the tradition of military honor and clan loyalty passed down from their gaelic-language-speaking ancestors of the British Isles. The sense of unfair play of small holders, sharecroppers, and agricultural workers, whose red necks came from exposing white skin to the Southern sun while growing the raw materials for Northern factories, yielded a coarse and sometimes grim sense of humor, so that DD remembers her mother saying she was “always one to call a spade a goddam shovel.”
In DD, you have a character somewhat like Detective Clarice Starling in the Hannibal Lecter stories. In one prison interview scene, Hannibal gets under Clarice’s skin by pointing out that she is only a couple of generations removed “from poor white trash.” DD is a brilliant scientist, a highly educated woman, but she will never completely shake the hypervigilance and pragmatism of her background; her family relationships reflect a modern alienation as well as epigenetic dysfunction; she doesn’t design or engineer, she tinkers. She’s acutely aware of physical threats to her safety in ways that people who’ve always felt safe are not, but what goes unstated is that she’s also aware of those who are superlatively safe and don’t feel like it.
Yet, the Eupocalypse is an opportunity to start over in a world where notions of class and wealth, risk and safety, are recalibrated. It’s a world where the materials of modern life are lost, but the ideas are not.
Excerpt from Watch It Burn, Chapter 40:
When it’s mid-January in the Midwest, you’ve packed away the ornaments and burned the brown dry tree on the Epiphany bonfire. You wake up and realize it’s staying dark a little later this morning than yesterday, and it will be another week until the days start to get longer again. You cringe and pull the covers up over your head, but then you take a deep breath and throw them off, putting your sock-clad feet reluctantly on the cold floor. You stagger out to start the fire in the woodstove before you even go to pee.
But, when it’s May in the Midwest and the dawn comes brightly in the window, but the birds are silent and the snow is above the bottom of the windowsill, and dammit, it’s snowing again, you might want to get up. You might want to find something to do. But the hollow in your stomach is a gaping, burning chasm and the shakes start as soon as you move your hands to throw back the covers. Your hands are like icicles and your feet are cold inside two pairs of socks. You haven’t felt your toes in weeks. It’s May, you’re on a farm. You should have plenty to do: animals to tend, fences and stalls to mend, vegetables to transplant, mulch to lay, rows to hoe. But there is the snow. The bud tips of the trees are thick but brown; they tried to leaf out when it thawed for a few days in April, but no.
The second book in the Eupocalypse series, Watch It Burn, is available now for pre-order on Amazon, with a release date of April 2nd. If you thought Machine Sickness was exciting and mentally stimulating, wait until you read Watch It Burn! The Eupocalypse continues to unfold in the USA as D.D., Jeremy, Jessica, and the rest struggle to survive and thrive in the new world, but now you’ll zoom out to see people in China and the Horn of Africa grappling with old religions and new realities…
This could be it! The Eupocalypse could be underway right now! The Sanchi oil tanker was breached and created one of the most massive oil-transport spills in history! Lurking within the chemical and biological agents being sprayed to contain that spill are genetically-modified hydrocarbonoclastic bacteria.
This is so much like what happens in Machine Sickness and the soon-to-be-released sequel, Watch It Burn, that it’s positively eerie.
Not sure if you’ll like the Eupocalypse books? For a low-risk intro to the series, the first book will be available at Amazon for 99 cents until the release of Watch It Burn in April, 2018.
Can’t get enough of the Eupocalypse world? Download the free short story Nefertiri’s Warriors, a dreamlike fantasy that takes place thirty years in the future. and also receive e-mail author updates.
As a special promotion to celebrate its redesigned cover, Machine Sickness will be free on Amazon for two days only: Sunday, November 5, and Monday, November 6. This is your opportunity to read Book 1 of the Eupocalypse series for free.
From Eupocalypse, Book 2:
And what a storm it was! The ozone from the lightning, borne on the frigid whipping breeze, scoured the aroma of man-sweat and vomit from his awareness. He grasped a rope tied to the cabin wall. The lightning itself branched, over and over again, in dazzling revelation, its beauty gone before his eyes could drink it in, followed much too fast —much too close—by the earsplitting bang of thunder. The ship was arcing into the air on one wave and crashing down on the next, bringing torrents of seawater across the deck that washed unsecured shipmates overboard. A blinding flash came, at one with the thunder, raising his hair, and he looked up and saw that one of the sails was on fire.
Then a jolt knocked Li’s hand loose of the rope and sent him sprawling against the rail. The ship had stopped moving, but the brutal force of the furious ocean had not. The next wave broke over the deck in frothing madness and took the stunned Li with it.
Watching my friends on social media trying who are slowly recuperating from Harvey’s devastation, I recall the beauty of the Bolivar peninsula, east of Houston. I was so enamored of the beauty of the area when I visited there about three years ago that I located much of the early part of Machine Sickness in the area. The people of the area struck me as deeply self-reliant and resourceful, and that was part of why I set the beginning of the global catastrophe as occurring in the offshore oil platforms of the Texas Gulf Coast. While disaster fiction can be entertaining, it is heartbreaking to think of a real-life disaster striking the area described in the book:
Right? Or left? To her left, a jacked-up pickup truck was parked on the sand about a quarter mile away, but she didn’t see the occupants. She turned right instead and picked a random destination for her walk. Half a mile or so south was a cheerful apricot-colored house right across from a head of sand pointed into the water; that was her mark. She started towards it, savoring the sun on the left side of her face. The mid-morning temperature was just right for a walk, with a breeze that was cooling but not icy, and she settled into a soft-kneed, easy pace on the sand. Low wavelets broke with soft sighing sounds. A lone pelican cruised by, south-to-north, perhaps fifty feet above the waves. She swung her arms as she walked, making huge circles like 3D snow-angel wings, trying to release the road tension from her neck. She paused and shaded her eyes, turning in a circle.
The distant truck’s occupants turned out to be a white man and woman, now seated on a blanket and watching a small beige child play with a pail and shovel. DD spotted the oil rigs, just far enough out that one could see them only on the clearest of days, like today. And there was something moving near the rigs, a boat, too far out even to get an idea if it was a small, slow, close craft or a large, fast, far one.
And another snippet about the ferry between Galveston and Bolivar:
At the boarding station, she obeyed the ferry crew, who gestured with neon-yellow gloves for her to take lane number three. She pulled her little SUV in line where it was eclipsed behind a customized Ford Expedition, and lilliputianized next to an F-350 (yes, I’m in Texas, truck capital of the USA). She cut off the engine. The sun was two fingers’ breadth from setting and the bay was choppy, with steely gray waves in sharp regular rows like a bastard-cut file. The fall air was fresher now that the sun was low. A dolphin’s supple back gleamed briefly among the waves. Pelicans circled and dropped, lunging into the water with flapping feet.
The ferry’s motor was running, a slowly oscillating bass growl she could feel through the soles of her feet and up into her hips. She returned to her car and checked her e-mail: nothing pressing. She watched a tiny tugboat push a gigantic oil platform towards the cluster of refineries ashore. A group of laughing children ran along the beach. She glanced back down at her phone, then looked up and slammed her foot on the brake in panic, briefly disoriented seeing the dock pylons moving past her as the boat left its berth. The ship’s start had been so gradual she hadn’t felt the movement.
She got out of the car again and circled the walkways around the deck. Reaching the rail at the bow, she stood next to a bronze-faced Hispanic family: dad, mom, and three girls with silky long black hair, the youngest’s in two long braids. The sunset comprised utterly saturated, extravagant streaks of lemon yellow, apricot, and lavender. Another dolphin! The latex-shiny grey fin and back were gone, back below the whitecaps, even as she exclaimed aloud, “Dolphin!” The family scanned for it in vain, the little girl bouncing on her toes. DD smiled, thinking of her own innocent little girl, years ago, and a familiar pang of grief-guilt-fear shot down the smile, just as quickly.
The lights of Houston twinkled to life on the horizon below the sunset. She checked her phone again; five full bars of coverage, but still no response from Tim.
I know the people in the area are part of a strong and caring community, and they will help one another recuperate from the storm. As a believer in radical decentralization, I am always looking for local groups which put most of their resources into love in action. Accordingly, I made a donation to the Cajun Navy, and I encourage you to donate as well.
Peri Dwyer Worrell