Seed by Rob Zielger
Night Shade Books, San Francisco, 2011
From my library TBR list. With a recommendation from Paolo Bacigalupi, author of The Windup Girl, I wanted to read this one when I first saw it on the Night Shade Books website.
At the beginning of the 22nd century most of the United States has become a dust bowl, ravaged by violent waves of unpredictable weather. Migrants, ragged and hungry, travel from place to place, on foot or in rigged-up vehicles,gathering Seed from government depots and hoping to find a place to grow and harvest a crop, enough food to last until the next harvest, never knowing when that will be. They are swayed by prairie saints and harassed by La Chupacabra, a gang of violent thieves.
Seed is bio-engineered and precious, marked by a tiny barcode. Made by Satori, a living, growing animal of a city, controlled by the Designers, and genetically coded to be sterile, it is the only source of food available, and the Government struggles to control it. Satori’s Designers, bio-engineered themselves, have minds of their own and have created modified humans as laborers and security forces. And there is Tet, a deadly virus slowly spreading through the population.
Ziegler has written a dystopian western, filled with shoot-outs and clipped dialogue. His use of imminent climate change and terminator technology turns this first novel towards speculative fiction. It is messy, violent and I found it a quick, disturbing read.