Gollancz pre-empts SF thriller about a post-apocalyptic taxi driver

Gollancz Deputy Publishing Director Simon Spanton has pre-empted world volume rights in Barricade by Jon Wallace via Ed Wilson at Johnson & Alcock in a three book deal. The novel is a fast-moving and filmic SF thriller whose central character is a post-apocalyptic taxi driver.

Barricade takes us into the near future where a war between the artificial humans (the ‘Ficials’) and the humans they were meant to serve (the ‘Reals’) has left the world in ruins. The Ficials are holed up in the barricaded cities fighting a war of survival (or destruction – it depends who you believe) against the Reals who hold the devastated countryside.

Our ‘hero’ is Kenstibec. Like all Ficials he is loaded with nano-tech that makes him very hard to kill and an attitude that makes him very hard to like. Before the war he was an engineer, now he does taxi runs in an armoured Land Rover taking other Ficials between the fortress cities. But Kenstibec’s latest job looks like being his last. Just when he was beginning to find out how we all ended up in this mess too…

Wallace, who lives in London, began the book when he was at university in Edinburgh but set it aside, returning to it when he was struck with the central idea of a ‘post-apocalyptic taxi driver’.  He kept the book’s opening setting in Edinburgh but added elements of other genres to create a pulpy page-turner with a thoughtful undercurrent.

“As an editor you’re always looking for ‘it’ in a debut submission, without ever really knowing what ‘it’ exactly is. But Jon Wallace has ‘it’ in spades,” said Simon. “Taut pacing, outrageous characters you nevertheless believe utterly and a future that is all too likely. As a ‘Real’ I’m not sure I want to live in Jon’s future but I absolutely LOVE reading about it.”

Barricade will be published in early 2014 by Gollancz.