Barricade. Book Review

barrBARRICADE by Jon Wallace
Gollancz, p/b, £8.99
Reviewed by Matthew Johns

Barricade is set in a post-apocalyptic world in which the “Reals” – humans gradually dying from radiation sickness and other diseases, fight the “Ficials” – artificially engineered, genetically superior life-forms who were created to serve mankind.

Kenstibec is one of the Ficials – a Rover Power Nine model, created for construction duties. The book intersperses flashbacks of his past – where he worked on enormous tower blocks, and his present – where he’s working as a chauffeur of kinds, ferrying people around the war-torn landscape of the UK, trying to help wipe out the remaining Reals. His current job is Starvie – a pleasure model, who is now working as a journalist, who needs him to get her from Edinburgh to London.

This is an intense novel, filled with action, violence, humour and generates real pathos for the Ficials – created expressly to serve and treated as slaves. Their rise against mankind is depicted sympathetically – Kenstibec is initially unwilling to move from construction to murder, but is forced to by the all-powerful Control. The philosophical debates that this could spark are many, but Wallace addresses them adeptly in his writing.

There are a great many post-apocalyptic tales out there, but this one stands above most.

About Phil Lunt (799 Articles)
Hailing from the rain-sodden, North Western wastelands of England, Phil has dabbled in many an arcane vocation. From rock-star to conveyor-belt scraper at a bread factory, 'Dairy Logistics Technician' to world's worst waiter. He's currently a freelance designer, actor, sometime writer/editor and Chair of the British Fantasy Society. He is on the Global Frequency and is still considering becoming an astronaut when he grows up.