MILES Hudson’s new novel, 2089, is set on and around the River Severn, in a gently post-apocalyptic future. Society has chosen to publish everything you see and hear online.
The hero of the story, Jack Smith, believes this constant surveillance is a bad idea, and that people should be able to have privacy. So, he blows up the ‘old’ GCHQ building in Cheltenham and goes on the run.
An old flame, Vicky Truva, joins up with Jack, and they are chased by a ragtag posse that includes her two brothers. The chase moves onto the river near Gloucester, and the story is filled with details of how the landscape has become abandoned, and how climate change has affected the region.
The only boats available to the posse are canalboats from Sharpness marina. They force these on to the river, but one thing that hasn’t changed sixty years from now is the size and power of the tides on the Severn. The Severn bore comes up, one of the narrowboats is capsized, and Vicky’s brother is lost in the river.
Jack and Vicky escape the posse in the darkness of night and the immensity of the estuary. Finally though, the surveillance network is fixed, so that the posse’s job is suddenly easy again. Or so they think….
Whilst the River Severn forms a glorious setting for the action in this story, there are greater depths for the reader to plumb. The themes addressed range from possible causes of a societal meltdown in the next decade (you can probably think of a few potential political flashpoints) to how we should rebuild society from scratch, once the apocalypse comes.
Along the way you get to consider our over-reliance on technology, the arguments about privacy versus security, and how climate change might actually end up affecting us here in Britain. Will we really be able to grow coffee here soon?
As the book’s story has such a strong connection to the Cheltenham and Gloucester areas, Hudson has set up a book tour that reflects this. Alongside the standard bookshop and coffee shop type events, he will be talking about the development of the story in some of the places that are in it. Highnam Court, the Severn Bore Inn, and the Anchor Inn at Epney. The Gloucester Docks Waterways Museum is also a venue on the book tour.
Beyond the book tour, there will also be the ‘2089 Trail’. This is a big competition, supported by local tourist offices, in which you can follow the route of the chase – although you don’t need to be waterborne! En route, you pick up clues to finally solve the puzzle keyword. Of all the correct entries, three will finally be drawn to win prizes directly related to the book.
Book signings will take place at the following venues in October
11.45am Nottingham Waterstones
5pm Caffe Nero, High St, Cheltenham
2pm Waterways Museum, Gloucester Quays
3.30pm Highnam Court
4pm Caffe Nero, Southgate Street, Gloucester
7pm Caffe Nero, Gloucester Quays
8pm The Anchor Inn, Epney (Severn bore passes at 8.50pm)
8.30pm The Severn Bore Inn, Minsterworth (Severn bore passes at 9.40pm)
6.30pm Caffe Nero, Silver Street, Durham
4.30pm Caffe Nero,St Mary’s Place, Newcastle
7.30pm Hildbede College SCR, Durham University
Towpath Talk will be reviewing 2089 in a forthcoming edition.