All in all, this is a deliciously low-key take on post-apocalyptic science fiction, set in a Britain that has suffered economic collapse, lost a major war and become shunned by the rest of the world. Even the nature of the apocalypse is suitably British, involving a failed political venture never properly described (we are, after all, too polite) but referred to as ‘the great experiment’. Either way, it reads as an excellent reminder about the dangers of accepting extreme political ideologies.

As a result of this crisis, England becomes fragmented, reverting to anarchic-communist communities controlled by individuals who present themselves in the fashion of mythical beings.

The story starts in the southeast country town of Down-Bourne, ruled over by a self-styled Green Man. The village is raided by a violent gang of skinheads from London, now a dangerous urban wasteland. Most of the village women are taken to London.

The prose is excellent, jumping between two POV’s, that of the almost-hero Fen Morris and his wife, who has been kidnapped and taken to a London council estate/ fortress, where she begins to fall for the rugged leader of the gang who captured her. Fen Morris makes a particularly appealing character. Despite the breakdown of his marriage he is still motivated by a strong sense of duty to rescue his wife, and his character shines through. Allusions to the Pilgrims Progress and Campbellian myth construction are abound, but there is never any overt hint of pretension, and Fen is wonderfully useless in a crisis.

Many hoary old issues of British society are also wryly discussed, the city/country divide, racism, the upper middle classes, appalling writers and the train system!

Recommended, as is other work by the author

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