Thursday, April 7, 2011

RTW: A Tourist's Guide to 2111

Wednesdays are 'blog carnival' days over at YA Highway, where readers respond to questions posted by the YA Highway team. Today's question is:

Assuming we make it through the 2010 apocalypse, what do you imagine the publishing world will look like 100 years from now?

Picture it. The year is 2111. A lazy afternoon sun dips across the scorching red wasteland that is the Australian outback. The dust stirs. One man - dressed all in leather, Mad Max style, despite the heat - zips across the landscape on a motorcycle like a black-and-grey wasp. But this is no joy ride. This is war.

Suddenly, on the horizon, shimmering, appear his pursuers. Even from a distance, they're high-tech in comparison to this Mel Gibsoneque vigilante. You can't see their faces because their vehicles seem to encase them in what looks like - if you're not afraid to have your fingers broken for making such an observation - a giant, flying silver egg.

Welcome, traveller, to the future.

Now, being from a pre-apocalyptic era you won't understand the complex political upheavals that led us to this sun-scorched Australian plain which, if you didn't know better, looks more like a shot out of a Hollywood movie than the dreary Australian Outback. But never fear! Because there's a whole lot of literature out there designed just for you and other time-travelling visitors to Earth, 2111.

So let's get started. You might want to read up, for example, on the reasons why the figures emerging from the egg-pods appear to be seven feet tall and entirely blue. For that you can consult the great and epic work


written by the lead Extraterrestrial (use the term 'alien' and it won't just be your fingers that are broken) in charge of Human - Extraterrestrial Relations. Find out how these marvellous beings came from the sky and saved Planet Earth in its hour of need!

...of course, traveller, you won't actually be able to access this epic work, seeing as you don't have a database chip installed in your brain to which the entire contents of this exciting tale can be instantly uploaded, but never fear! Our travel agency sells temporary chips which can be installed by our master surgeons in just two quick and relatively painless operations!

And once you've got your chip in and have devoured


in all of .06 of a second, you might wish to sample some of the other literature available to you in this exciting new world. Try, for instance,


or, if you're not a fan of the whimsical and politics is more your style, why not try


Perchance you are a fan of the classics? Then may I recommend that most beautiful of romance tales; one to make you weep, cry and even laugh. It's the tale of

THE TRAGEDY OF GLOOP AND GLOOP or, THE TALE OF TWO EXTRATERRESTRIAL FREEDOM FIGHTERS (with a full chorus of triumphant extraterrestrials, angry fathers, and subjugated humans.)

But if your appetite is but whetted by this experience, you may be wondering why the man on the motorbike is roaring through the Australian desert with a bulky backpack and half a tank left of oil.

This notorious man is the leader of one of the fiercest underground human printing presses. In this backpack are two leather-bound copies (priceless now that the cows have all died out) of Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice and Dante's Inferno (the Musa translation, in case you're wondering, not one of the unreadable ones) which are almost all that remain of real paper-and-ink books. He's in charge of ensuring that the human stories of the past two thousand years don't die out entirely. And at the moment, his prospects don't look too good. And while his human comrades fry their brains with Extraterrestrial propaganda, this one man is left to fight for the freedom of the press... and tell people how bad the aliens really are. He's carrying a top-secret manuscript by one of Earth's most brilliant and inspired underground authors, and he's going to get that manuscript to the masses if it's the last thing he'll do. Which, all things considered, it probably will be.

Well, that's all we have time here on this tour of Earth: 2111. Please make sure to take all of your valuables with you when you exit the time-travel pod. On behalf of all of us here at Earth: 2111 Tours, we'd like to thank you for your time and wish you a safe journey back to whatever time, universe or dimension you come from.


  1. Lovely! Would make a great first paragraph for a dystopian novel :-)

  2. Thanks Lara and Alicia! :) I had a lot of fun writing it. I'd only wanted to set the scene but, as usual, I got a little carried away.