A new science fiction and fantasy novel has the end of the world starting in Price.
In the book “Five Days Dead”, Price, as imagined more than 100 years in the future, is a virtual ghost town. Humanity has gathered in giant cities called Hubs all over the world and everything outside of the Hubs has been returned to the Wilderness, including Price.
Author James L. Davis of Spanish Fork said he knew from the onset that the setting for his apocalyptic science fiction novel would take place in Utah, and the coal mining communities of Carbon and Emery counties would play a crucial part in the storyline.
“Price and Castle Valley are more than just a setting in the novel, to me they are characters all their own. I couldn’t have written Five Days Dead without having it take place there. If I hadn’t called the area home for so many years the ideas that turned into the book would have never grown into something I could build upon,” Davis said.
Until Davis and his family moved to Spanish Fork two years ago, they lived in Orangeville and called the Carbon and Emery county area home.
Having been a part of the community for so many years is what he said led him to imagine some of the central themes presented in Five Days Dead.
“I love the Castle Valley area and the future worries me, for a lot of reasons. I mean, virtually everything we do there is tied to the fact that the area is an energy producer. From coal mining, to the power plants to the oil and gas fields, that is who we are collectively in that part of the world. So, one day I was driving from Huntington to Price, and it just hit me: what would happen to this area if one day we woke up and there was no longer any need for energy? And that was my ‘ahh haa’ moment. So, in “Five Days Dead”, the energy problems of the world have been solved. Cold fusion has become a reality, and there’s no more need for any of the things our entire culture is built upon. Energy is no longer a commodity; it is just always there and as free as the air we breathe. It is a right everyone has. I wanted to explore that and not from a world view, because I guess we could all imagine what might happen to the geopolitical landscape if the energy problems of the world were solved overnight. I wanted to focus on what it would do at a community level,” Davis said.
From there, the author focused upon the idea of “rights” people might expect in a new world where energy was free for everyone. So, in the world of “Five Days Dead”, not only is energy a basic human right, but so is medical, housing, transportation and even income.
“I just expanded on what I thought might happen if we keep going the way that it seems we are going as a society,” Davis explained. “So, in these Hubs where most of humanity has gathered, you have all these rights to every creature comfort you could imagine, and you are pampered and most of us spend our time online in a digital world of our making. We don’t have to work; we don’t even have to leave our homes if we don’t want to. I just wanted to explore what we might become if we were handed all of these ‘rights.'”
What Davis imagines is humanity slowly rotting and oblivious to a world that has turned against it. The author admits that he painted with a rather broad stroke some of the problems that face Utah and much of the West today, such as land right issues and wilderness designations. So, in his version of the future, everything that isn’t a metropolis has been returned to nature.
“I had some fun with that train of thought,” Davis said. “If we just said everything outside of these certain cities is now Wilderness, what might that mean? What kind of world would that create? And from there I decided that if it’s going to be Wilderness, let’s make it really insane wilderness. So, right from the start of the book you understand that nature has turned on mankind and every other living creature on the planet is hunting us. And when they’re not, super storms are destroying everything in its path. It is called the Rages.”
And for extra spice he introduces in the novel the Wrynd, a cult of drug addicted cannibals. “They’re basically zombies on steroids,” Davis laughed. “And they wreak havoc on Price.”
Davis said his approach for writing science fiction is to first create his imagined world and the rules for how it operates. Once his “world building” is done, then comes the fun part of putting complicated characters right in the middle of it to see how they will react.
“The central character in the novel, Harley Nearwater, is not a particularly nice guy and he does some really outlandish things. He’s a fun character to write, but he’s not someone I would bring home to have dinner with the family,” Davis said.
Although the book has some underlying social commentary, Davis said it was never his goal to write the book as a sweeping political statement.
“I grew up watching science fiction and horror movies and reading Ray Bradbury and Stephen King, so my imagination is pretty much a wasteland,” Davis said. “‘Five Days Dead’ to me is science fiction, action adventure and is just for fun. It’s the beginning of a series that I hope is good escapism for readers where they can immerse themselves in a world where nature has a definite bite and the end of everything is about to begin.”
The book is available as a paperback through Amazon or as an E-book on Kindle, Nook and iBooks.