Jan 28, 2020

Kate A. Hardy -- Londonia

Our friend Kate Hardy has a serious novel out with a serious publisher printed as a serious hardcover:

The book

The author
We are intensely jealous, of course.

(From the press release:)

Londonia is a magnificently immersive page-turner. Set in 2072, it seems at first to be a dystopia in which the internet and other modern technologies have collapsed. An elite have sealed themselves up in Central London, while everyone else has to get on as best they can, making-do, bartering, and cooperating with their neighbours. Moving between the two societies is Hoxton, a "Finder" of desirable objects, her own past a mystery to be solved, with the help of new friends. Can hope and friendship survive in this strange new world? . . .

(This is how it starts:)

‘Oi! Second floor. Is Tom Ov-Brixton in there?’ Tom takes a drag on the clay pipe and squints at me through the  smoke.  ‘Scrote. That’s  my  hitch—gotta  get  to  the  Forrist  before  darking.’  He  abandons  the  pipe,  rolls  on  top  of  me  and  kisses my forehead. ‘Beauteous, you are.’ I trace a finger over his lips. ‘You too.’ As  we  gaze  at  each  other  a  brassy  note  sounds  in  the  street,  followed by the same voice, now more insistent. Tom leaves the bed and starts stuffing things into his kitbag.  ‘Merda! Can’t find my wrist-clock.’ I  hold  the  weathered  disc  out  to  him  as  he  hops  about,  one  leg  trousered,  the  other  a  naked  white  streak  in  this  dim  room.  ‘Here—it was under your felty.’ He pulls on the rest of his jeans, yanks the belt’s teeth into a well-used notch and takes the timepiece from me. ‘Wouldn’t want to go without that.’ ‘What’s the point of wearing it?’ ‘Hands  still  move,  don’t  they?  Useful  for  calculating  how  much work time’s been done—aclockface,two,three. . . any lane, it was Dad’s. Not worth nothing but it’s a . . .’ ‘Mascot? Talisman?’ ‘Where d’you come from, wordsmith dame?’ He grins at me, face still rosy after the activity that has made this bed so warm. I risk the icy chill, slip out from the covers and scoot to the win-dow,  a  blanket  about  me.  A  makeshift  carriage  waits  outside fronted by two horses, their breath pluming white. A man sitting behind  them  looks  up  at  this  window,  waves  his  arms  in  a  gesture of frustration and yells. ‘I foitling said, is Tom Ov-Brixton in there?’ Heaving up the sash I call down. ‘Just coming.’ Tom  snorts  a  laugh,  shoves  the  last  item  into  his  bag  and  envelops me, blanket and all into a hug. ‘Sorry, I gotta go, and so sorry you can’t stay here.’ I  kiss  his  now-anxious  face.  ‘It’s  fine.  I’m  ready  to  explore  this . . . Londonia—find my way.’ ‘D’accord. They’ll be here soon-time. Tell ’em thanks for the loan of the room.’ ‘I will.’ ‘Can’t xacly take your address, can I?’ ‘Not until I get one.’ He  smiles  sadly.  ‘Write  me,  p’raps.  Ov-Brixton,  Hepping-forrist—might  find  me.  There’s  a  horse-letter-mec  what  goes  in  that direction—from Bethy-green.’ The  brassy  note  shrills  again  and  I  look  out  to  see  the  now  furious-looking man, trumpet in hand. ‘Pizzin’ come  on—got  three  more  to  pick  up  and  Clasher  territory t’get through.’ Tom  shouts  out  a  response,  hugs  me  tight  once  more  then  he’s gone, footsteps clattering on the stairs. I consider the vast everything and nothing before me. I should perhaps  layer-up  and  get  out  there  to  pace  the  streets  and  find          .  .  .  the  next  piece  of  this  life,  but  the  bed  beckons  again  even  with its biting population. The people that own these two rooms will  return  when  the  sun  is  directly  overhead  but  as  the  sky  is  once   again   a   sullen   mass   of   cloud,   it’ll   be   impossible   to   anticipate  their  arrival.  Tom  said  the  merde-mec  always  passes  late morning with his cart of shit-filled buckets, so I’ll wait until then. The bed is still warm. I burrow down into the crackling straw and sweet-stale wool covers; curl, foetus-like, try to remember—anything  from  before  these  last  few  days  of  his  kindness.  A  limpid  blankness  stares  back  at  my  mind’s  eye  before  somnolence fills my conscience. A rattling sound from the street disturbs my slumber. Merde-mec? His call affirms. ‘Bring out yer merde, an’ scraps. Egg for a pail.’ Least I can do for the owners of this place. Hopping out from the covers I cram on shoes and coat and go into the tiny kitchen. The bucket of peelings is full, the other vessel, about half, judging  by  its  weight—no  desire  to  lift  the  lid  .  .  .  I  take  them  and  join  the  other  residents  walking  down  the  stairs  with  their  own  various wastes. The conversation is of never-ending cold, a possible arrival of some charitable and benevolent outfit and scoop-trucks. As we reach the downstairs hall, I ask a man in front of me what these are. He looks at me beneath impressive eyebrows as if I am from a different planet—which I could be. ‘Just don’t be out on the street if you hear a sound like this.’ He  emits  a  wailing  cry  to  which  another  resident  prods  him—‘Nah—more  like  this.’  The  hallway  is  filled  with  eerie  moans  until an old woman clangs her pail with a walking stick. ‘Foitlin’ shut it! Don’t we fear it enough wivout you lot doin’ a re-run.’ 

(You can order the book here, or here; enjoy!)

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