We Are Them: The Apocalypse Syndrome

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We Are Them: The Apocalypse Syndrome by L.K. Samuels is a work of speculative fiction set in a peculiar and disorientating world that is just a little bit too familiar. It’s a world of bureaucratic madness, perplexing legislation, and stifling conformity, and with a new millennium about to dawn, the heavily self-medicated population is distracted by worries regarding the Y2K bug and the likely breakdown of society.

As just another cog in the wheel, low-level city administrator Spencer Crane is generally caught up in his own petty concerns. He spends his mundane working life surrounded by stooges and his equally mundane personal life surrounded by oddballs. He and his wife Sarah have been experiencing marital problems for years, and since neither of them can bring themselves to call time on the marriage, they have been attending counseling sessions with Dr. Everett von Hagen, who seems to favor Sarah’s perspective on things. However, deciding that the counseling is getting them nowhere, Crane is finally about to suggest divorce when something extraordinary happens: he spots a fireball blazing its way across the eastern sky.

Even more extraordinary, Crane suddenly starts to feel close to his wife again. Although a surprising number of his acquaintances somehow manage to miss the massive explosion that takes place in the sky above their heads, Crane isn’t the only one to undergo a rather dramatic change following the arrival of the fireball. Mayor Jessie Quinn decides that local citizens are being unreasonably selfish and anarchic by planning their own routes to places and so introduces a new program––spearheaded by the new Driving Efficiency Department––“to inform citizens about the best possible routes in their daily travels.” Despite being recruited to the new department and placed in charge of MAD––Mandatory Advisory Directions––enforcement, Crane finds himself drawn to the dissenters and anarchists who want to plan their own routes.

Spencer Crane is initially significantly more apathetic than the average literary hero. As his sister-in-law Rant puts it, “[Y]ou’re like this town—dead and listless. They could film a zombie movie here and nobody would be able to tell the difference between the morbid residents and the brain-eating stiffs.” He’s a cynical pessimist and egotistical to boot, but he does see through the bureaucratic nonsense more quickly and clearly than pretty much anyone else in local government. He’s a skeptic who happens to be one of the few to think that the fireball was something uncanny and, while he seems to be the architect of much dissatisfaction, he does offer a lot of humorous observations.

We Are Them: The Apocalypse Syndrome is a science fiction story that unfolds in a real-world setting characterized by the unreality of modern life. Something strange is definitely going on, but does it involve extraterrestrial shenanigans or the petty machinations of local despots? Whatever the reason, things take a turn for the extreme incredibly quickly and Crane has to balance leading secret civil disobedience with budgeting for additional surveillance and tactical weapons. There’s a seriously weird world out there.

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Star Count 4/5
Format eBook
Page Count 272 pages
Publisher Freeland Press
Publish Date 30-May-2021
ISBN 9780961589332
Bookshop.org Buy this Book
Issue July 2021
Category Science Fiction & Fantasy