Written by: Jon Wallace
Jon Wallace’s dystopian epic Barricade is a welcome jolt to the system for this genre. In the future where genetically engineered artificial beings called “Ficials” have thrown off the shackles of servitude and taken over from their human masters (or “Reals” as they are now known.) Faced with the logical reality that the planet can no longer sustain human life for much longer, the Ficials decide to cull what remains of the Real population.
Meanwhile Kenstibec, a Ficial sent on a cross-country mission across Britain gets more than he bargained for, and as events unfold, is forced to make some serious decisions about who he is and not only his future but the future of both Ficials and Reals.
Accompanied by Starvie his Ficial passenger, a pleasure bot-turned-journalist the pair embark on a gritty fast-paced journey that’s part Bladerunner, part Mad Max, with a little Running Man for good measure. With flashbacks to Kenstibec’s participation in the initial takeover by the Ficials, we get a chilling glimpse of their clinical outlook and dangerous efficiency.
Along the way they form a rather abusive yet mutually beneficial relationship with a Real, who they charmingly name “Fatty” and while Kenstibec continues to blindly follow his orders he soon begins to question the motives of those around him as things take a surprising turn for the worst.
Barricade’s pace trundles along nicely and the often-stunted character development works a charm considering the subject matter and the nature of the relationship between the main players. This in turn greatly enhances the more poignant moments, contrasting the emotion and tragedy of unfolding events. It also benefits greatly from a wonderfully wry sense of humour throughout with plenty of wisecracks in the most unexpected of places, and there are more than a few jabs at today’s modern media and technology trends. With a sequel due soon, Barricade is a highly entertaining debut well worth checking out.
4 out of 5 nerds