This was a hard one to write (find it on Smashwords; within a week or two of the publication date of this entry it will also appear with other ebook sellers linked in the right sidebar of this blog).
It wasn’t hard to write because of the subject matter. Crowded Earths are a common feature of science fiction and have been for decades. I crowded this one more than any other that I can think of, leaving even Asimov’s metal-paved galactic capitol of Trantor looking like a half-deserted podunk town. Perhaps you’ll think I crowded it to an implausible degree, or perhaps humans are as ridiculously clever and adaptable as I imply when I describe the world of A Hell of Heaven.
And that brings me to what I mean with that title I put up there at the top of this entry. Yes, this is a story about a crowded future, two societies in that crowded future, and how they interact. But ultimately, in less than 5,000 words, all I’m able to show you are outlines. And I like that, outlines give the reader’s imagination a lot of room to roam in.
But this is less a story about population pressure and more about human flexibility, adaptability, and just how far humans can and will go to preserve a way of life. The main character, Willem, is barely recognizable as human, and the society he is a member of is even less so. But he is human and the society is human. Maybe you’ll read this and say to yourself, ‘there is no way human beings would ever tolerate living like that’. But maybe, too, I’ll have told the story well enough that you will come away questioning whether or not you’re right, and whether or not the progress of a few dozen centuries could warp human life into something you wouldn’t believe if you saw it.
This story takes place somewhere around 5,000 years in the future. To a person living 5,000 years ago, WE are the far future. Most of the human race then were hunter-gatherers or nomadic herdsfolk; cities were far and few between and we’d be scandalized by the heinously unsanitary conditions even there. Imagine what one of those nomads would think if we showed them a skyscraper full of office workers, a factory farm, a highway, a satellite launch, a modern war.
They wouldn’t even think we were people, living like that. They’d think we were gods, demons, or something else entirely, but not people.