Four inhabitants of a crumbling world, each with a story of their own:
A drug-addled boy, living in dank recesses, sets out in an ancient car to find his ex, who has mysteriously vanished overnight.
A privileged girl, obsessed with the past and exiled by her esteemed father, learns more about her long-vanished ancestors than she ever could have wished for.
An old man, on his 100th birthday, deserts his quiet post as an elevator operator, climbing the great shaft in hopes of seeing the fabled topmost level before he dies.
And a fisherman, seeking answers to why his once-vibrant wife is now chronically ailing and wasting away, begins a quest to find and confront the god of all gods.
These stories intersect and wrap around each other, revealing deeply disturbing truths about the artifical world they inhabit.
"Hayward's debut is a powerful, beautifully-written dystopian tale concerning four inhabitants of a gigantic but dying artificial habitat. Young Phister has lived his entire life on the radioactive lowest level, until he sets off in pursuit of a friend, and soon becomes lost among endless passageways. Ancient Mereziah, who's devoted his life to servicing the habitat's elevators, decides to hitch a ride on the outside of one of them, hoping to rise to the fabled top of the world before he dies. Tran so Phengh, a fisherman plying his trade on a polluted and retreating lake deep within the artificial world, leaves his dying wife and sets off on a quest to ask important questions of the Gods. Deidre, a pampered young girl who lives on the beautiful pastoral level at the top of the habitat, is wrenched away from her family by monstrous angels. Eventually, each learns some small part of the secret behind their claustrophobic artificial world and its impending collapse, though the tale ends abruptly, with no real resolution and little hope. With well-developed characters and four strong plotlines told through alternating chapters, Hayward delivers a fulfilling read." (Publisher's Weekly)
"Two men, one young and curious, the other old and as set in his ways as a grandfather clock, guide a beat-up car through a seemingly endless maze of uninhabited tunnels as they search for a missing girl. Young Phister (as he's known) works look-out as his cantankerous partner navigates the car, which keeps informing them via a voice box that they are grossly abusing a Public Works vehicle. When they are flagged down by an aging playwright also searching for a missing person, Phister is forced to question everything he has believed about the world and himself up until that moment. Why? Because the playwright, in his 50s, still has his hair and teeth, and everyone Young Phister has ever known has been toothless and bald since childhood. Brent Hayward's debut novel is full of such jarring moments, in which various characters stumble upon each other in the back stairwells, elevator shafts and forgotten corridors of a vast underground city that has fallen into disrepair over the centuries, isolating its citizens in a series of unique, parallel worlds. Is the city a crumbling bomb shelter? What drove its inhabitants underground? A plague? A nuclear firestorm? No one can remember, and some, like Young Phister, have lived for generations in total isolation. What makes Filaria so compelling is Hayward's innovative narrative structure, which effortlessly shifts between the interlocking journeys of four major characters, each from one of the underground city's radically different worlds. Hayward forces the reader to experience the four journeys through the limited perspectives and life experiences of his confused protagonists, and in doing so dramatizes the ways in which environment, history, disease, social hierarchies and technologies interact to create what seem to be self-evident truths about the universe and our place in it. Even better, the heady ideas are brought to life by an increasingly creepy story of artificial intelligence gone very bad, entire ecosystems of mutated creatures both organic and robotic, and a cast of all-too-human characters as frightened and curious as the reader." (James Grainger, Rue Morgue Magazine)
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Intriguing, but flawed
- Ryan "Gen-Xer, software engineer, and lifelong avid reader. Soft spots for sci-fi, fantasy, and history, but I'll read anything good."
Dystopic planet bound generation ship tale
- Michael G Kurilla