, , , , , , , ,

Power is not a means; it is an end.
― George Orwell, 1984

Author Terry Tyler is scary. Seriously scary. As I’ve been reading her dystopian Project Renova and Operation Galton series over the past few years, I’ve enjoyed her fantasy world-building for the zombie apocalypse thinly disguised as a flu pandemic and/or as the breakdown of civil liberties.

I was amused but skeptical as she unraveled her tale of a deadly lab-developed flu ‘accidentally’ released into the general population. In Tipping Point, set in near-future 2024, the massive death toll is oddly focused on older, or economically or physically disadvantaged people. Access to health care or vaccines has to be rationed among the most ‘deserving’. Those who have been vaccinated receive a bracelet confirming their lucky status.

Survivors must choose between a life of deprivation and hardship, or sheltering in population centers where basic civil and even human rights are relinquished in return for safety, food, and shelter. As I said in my review of that first book, Tipping Point: what if Big Brother really IS watching you? What if ‘they’ know every single thing about you, your family, your favorite brands of coffee, chocolate, porn? Nothing new here, right? Well, then what if ‘they’ want to do more with that info than try to sell you more things? What if ‘they’ are going to use that info to decide who gets to live and who will die?

An amusing premise, I thought at the time. Then came 2020 and the flu pandemic. And all of a sudden, Terry Tyler isn’t just a creative writer pushing her point to the extreme. Now she’s a prophetic writer making some scary-accurate predictions about how the world works. Now our real world shrinks into lockdown, we’re ‘vulnerable’, our own family/friends/neighbors become our potential killers. We’re suspicious of strangers who might infect us. We call police hotlines to report our neighbors who are violating the new regulations. We don’t touch.

Now we’re hearing debates about how to ration scarce medical support and supplies. We’re seeing news stories speculating on whether those who have already survived should get some kind of proof—bracelets, anyone?—showing they are ‘safe’.

And we willingly give up the civil liberties our ancestors died to achieve for us as we huddle in our houses, avoid all contact, give up our jobs, freedom, and personal space. We do it because our government tells us to. Because they will keep us safe.

Terry’s newest release, Wasteland, continues to push the edges of current events to horrifying conclusions.

BLURB: Wasteland (Operation Galton Book 2) by Terry Tyler

Those who escape ‘the system’ are left to survive outside society.  The fortunate find places in off-grid communities; the others disappear into the wasteland.

The year: 2061. In the new UK megacities, the government watches every move you make.  Speech is no longer free—an ‘offensive’ word reaching the wrong ear means a social demerit and a hefty fine.  One too many demerits?  Job loss and eviction, with free transport to your nearest community for the homeless: the Hope Villages. 

Rae Farrer is the ultimate megacity girl – tech-loving, hard-working, law-abiding and content – until a shocking discovery about her birth forces her to question every aspect of life in UK Megacity 12.

On the other side of the supposedly safe megacity walls, a few wastelanders suspect that their freedom cannot last forever…

Wasteland is the stand-alone sequel to ‘Hope’, the concluding book in the two-part Operation Galton series, and Terry Tyler’s twenty-first publication.

My Review: 5 stars out of 5

In Wasteland, Terry Tyler’s latest volume set in 2061, she continues the tale two generations on from the initial story in Hope. As with her earlier dystopian series, there are sinister forces seeking control of society, in this case known as Project Galton. In the megacities, and for those willing to comply with restrictions on speech and personal freedom, life is safe, entertaining, and relatively easy. But deviation from the regulated norm is punished immediately and without appeal. Repeated deviation results in loss of everything and transfer to the antonymically-named Hope Villages.

Rae is a young woman who has been raised in a government creche to be the perfect megacity dweller. She’s happy enough with her job, vacuous boyfriend and friends, and willing to accept restrictions in exchange for her safe life. But when she discovers the truth about her past, Rae decides to risk everything to look in the Wasteland outside the city for the family she never knew she missed. That journey takes her out of her protected life as she meets first the curated Wasteland version orchestrated by the megacity, and then further escapes to the real thing.

There’s so much I want to find out, like why my parents couldn’t settle. About the world they knew before. What it was like to be able to just get in your car and travel where you want. To be able to eat pizza three nights running without some nasty little ping on your boss’s com. Most of all, though, to have the right to make decisions about your own life.

But as Rae comes to terms with the realities of life outside the cities, she realizes that a romanticized view of Wasteland’s rugged loners is no more accurate than the faked megacity version. The family she came to find is no exception, as her search leads to both joyful reunion and bitter disillusionment. It leads to the fragile beginnings of love and the realization of loss.

Even as Rae’s search plays out, however, events are unfolding with horrifying speed. In moves echoing both the nineteenth century’s heartbreaking “clearances” in rural Scotland and Ireland, and twentieth century Nazi Germany’s Final Solution, huge construction projects are underway in twenty-first century UK, and Wasteland residents rounded up with ominous intent.

“The Clearances” is a painting I picked up for our Scotland house. In this seemingly-idyllic scene of people embarking on a new life, it takes a few minutes to notice the house in flames on the lower right, or the heartbreak of being forced to abandon possessions and way of life.
[Image credit: The Clearances by Philip Thurstans.]

On its own, Wasteland isn’t a perfect book. The beginning is slow world-building with a lot of Tell and not enough Show. That’s a pity, because very few writers can beat Terry Tyler’s ability to show an entire world by focusing on the tiny universe of one character. Luckily for readers, she soon swings into the character-driven mode in which she excels. Through Rae’s eyes and those of a few other characters, we see what happens when absolute power meets absolute entitlement. “Power is not a means; it is an end,” as George Orwell warned in dystopian trope-defining 1984. Or, as the cynically corrupt Uncle Caleb Bettencort puts it in Wasteland:

Let us drink to Operation Galton, and all who have been functional in her success—and remember that to the victors go the spoils!

Wasteland is a rollercoaster. It starts slowly, climbing a steep slope only to plunge into an ever-increasing series of drops, fake-outs, and ascents. Sure, you could read this as a standalone. But you deserve more. As the last book of this little series and even more as the latest book of a story arc with disturbingly accurate echoes of current events, I want more too. I want to give it more than five stars. I want more stories. More about these characters. Just as we get satisfying bite-sized endings to the stories of characters from earlier books, I want to know what happens to Rae and to the family she’s both found and made.

Terry Tyler is the author of twenty books available from Amazon, the latest being ‘Wasteland’, the sequel to ‘Hope’. She is currently working on ‘Safe Haven’, a post-apocalyptic murder mystery set in the same world as her Project Renova series. Proud to be independently published, she is also an avid reader and book reviewer, and a member of Rosie Amber’s Book Review Team.

Terry is a Walking Dead addict, and has a great interest in all things post-apocalyptic, history (particularly 14th-17th century), and sociological/cultural/anthropological stuff, generally. She loves South Park, Netflix, autumn and winter, and going for long walks in quiet places where there are lots of trees. She lives in the north east of England with her husband.