Fiction - Novels
Bea's five-year old daughter, Agnes, is slowly wasting away in front of her. The smog and pollution of the City--the over-populated, over-built metropolis where most of the population lives in buildings on top of buildings, where there is no room for parks or plants--is destroying her lungs. If they stay in the City, Agnes will die. Across the country is the Wilderness State, a huge swath of protected land, remote and unwelcoming, a refuge for wildlife with nowhere else to go. It is a place of open spaces and clean air, wild animals, trees, forests, desert plains. No people have ever been allowed into the Wilderness State. Until now. Bea and Agnes will be among the first. Along with a handful of others, they are invited into the Wilderness State, to live as nomadic hunter gatherers. This motley group of twenty people are part of a study to see if humans can co-exist with nature and not just dominate it as they have always done. Can they be part of the wilderness and not put too heavy an imprint on the land? They spend their days wandering through this grand country, hunting, gathering, avoiding animal attacks, bickering among themselves, and doing a surprising amount of paperwork. Their nit-picking overseers, The Rangers, wrangle with them and badger them into adhering to the rules of the Government, the most important being Leave No Trace. They slowly learn how to live, and survive, on the unpredictable, often dangerous land, and they build a new kind of community, fighting among themselves for power, betraying and saving one another. Each day they will walk to another point on the horizon and try to make sense of new lives they now spend closer to their animal soul. Bea discovers that fleeing to the Wilderness State to save Agnes means that she loses her in a different way. Agnes grows wild and belongs to the landscape while Bea, raised in the City, will always be of that place and drawn to it, no matter how many deer she skins. The real bond between mother and daughter will be tested by their growing difference. As these modern nomads come to think of the Wilderness State as home, this land will come under attack from the Government which plans to develop it. Do the Settlers stay on as renegades, or move back to newly created urban areas?