Reviewed by Alex Binkley
Novels set in the aftermath of the collapse of civilization due to war, environmental catastrophe or even alien invasions have an honoured place in science and speculative fiction.
The Road, The Day of the Triffids, On the Beach and Hunger Games have been made into movies. The Canticle of Leibowitz, Earth Abides and Oryx and Crake are on a long list of stories that have attracted many readers to their disquieting visions of how humanity would deal with or fall apart after the breakdown of the social order.
Toronto author Matt Mayr has joined the post-apocalyptic novel community with Bad City. He paints a grim but plausible picture of grinding poverty, endless violence and revenge. The novel's protagonist, Simon Gray, seeks a way out of the urban chaos of South Town in order to return to the small farm of his parents.
South Town and neighbouring North Town have been inundated with massive flooding, an event known simply as the Fall. No one knows much about what exists beyond this little world. The law of the jungle has taken over. The residents are kept in a constant state of fear and dependence on their masters. Survivors grow food to sell in the market or provide other services without incurring the wrath of the thugs that run the communities.
South Town is in the grips of the dictatorial Eli Baxter, whose underlings kill anyone who stands in his way except for the priests, who are plotting to overthrow him. North Town is under the iron fist of the equally vicious Fisher gang. Both sides have spies and informants in the other camp.
Simon Gray has to walk a fine line between the two sides. His talent as a thief brings him to Baxter’s attention. A courier is carrying a mysterious computer hard drive that Baxter wants. Simon delivers it, but Baxter can’t make it work so Simon has to track down the courier and retrieve a code. In the process he meets Anton, whose older brother was murdered by Baxter. Simon is dragged into his plot for revenge.
Meanwhile the mysterious Eva has caught his attention and she shares Simon’s desire to escape the madness. First he has to team up with Anton to settle old scores with Baxter and his thugs.
Mayr has a small-town, outdoors background, which he puts to good use in the story. In his depiction of South Town, the reader can see an urban area decaying under the control of a local tyrant. Thin indeed was the veneer of law and order.
Bad City is published by Edge Science Fiction and Fantasy Publishing, a division of Hades Publications of Calgary. It has already been published on Amazon and will be released in other e-book platforms in November, and in print next year.