Synopsis: An old man rides a workhorse through the night, across mudslides, past stores abandoned for decades, past the rotted corpses of automobiles invisible under mounds of blackberry. Rain courses from his rabbit skin poncho. He carries a sword and a spear. He knows where to find the murderer. He will face him alone.
“Since Tomorrow” is a novel of a world in the remaking. The old man, Frost, remembers the “good times”. Those who live on his “farm” among collapsed warehouses and the foundations of vanished houses struggle to maintain human values. But when others in this makeshift world are driven only by greed and the need for power, all values must ultimately be replaced by the simple instinct for survival.
In this full length novel Morgan Nyberg takes the reader to the West Coast of Canada, where the city of Vancouver has been transformed by climate change, pandemic, economic collapse and earthquake into “Town”, a squalid, lawless place inhabited the desperate, the diseased and the dying. Taking advantage of this state of affairs is the formidable Langley, who grows poppies to produce “skag”, a crude form of opium. Langley has amassed enough power to control a small private army. Now he is determined to acquire Frost’s farm for himself. Recklessly opposing Langley is Frost’s fearless but impulsive granddaughter, Noor.
Like Russell Hoban’s “Riddley Walker” or Cormac McCarthy’s “The Road”, “Since Tomorrow” demonstrates that there is room in the post-apocalyptic genre for exceptional writing. Morgan Nyberg tells nothing – he shows everything. In clear, sensuous prose free of commentary or explanation – prose as addictive as Langley’s skag – he leads the reader toward that climactic night with Frost on his horse, and farther, to the threshold of a new, perhaps happier, era.
Review Quote from Amazon
At the center of the story is Frost, a grandfather who is a leader and a fighter and a thinker. Frost and his group of refugees and survivors conduct a war of wills against the enemy, Langley, who wants to take away his farm for its good strategic location and solidly built stone farmhouse. It is a simple story, a struggle between good and evil.
The descriptions of clothing are given in such haunting detail, they might just stay with you forever: “She had on rubber boots and very baggy trousers of undyed canvas tied with nylon cord. She wore a flannel logger’s shirt on which the red and black plaid was just visible. Her white hair hung long and loose. She was badly stooped, and she used a length of rusted reinforcing bar to help her as she hobbled toward the boys.”
People trade broken scavenged objects for food, clothing, drugs or weapons. Addicts are strung out on a drug called skag. In this place and time guns are almost entirely absent, and typical weapons are a length of reinforcing bar or a two-by-four. Frost’s group develops bows and arrows while Langley’s soldiers are equipped with crossbows. Frost also has dogs, useful as sentries and in battle.
All the characters in Since Tomorrow are lovingly fleshed out, from old Daniel Charlie, maker of wagon wheels and arrows and bows, to Grace, who excels at amputating limbs when all else fails, to Will, the precocious grandson who has memorized “The Art of War” and counsels his grandpa on strategy. Will’s older sister is Noor, and she makes heads turn. Willow is the name of a woman who falls victim to the irresistible drug, skag.
Other women are called Salmon or Amber or Cloud. The men’s names are no less arresting: Pender, Nordel, Tyrell, Fundy, Wing, BC, Shaughnessy, Granville, Robson, Bailey. The author has created a world in which people’s story is suggested by their name, the way it was a thousand years ago. They don’t have much left, but they have a name, and there is dignity in these names.
If you like stories which portray an arduous and dangerous existence but end with a message of hope, however bleak, you will love Since Tomorrow. This book is highly recommended.
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