open
Upgrade to a better browser, please.

Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Books

Julian Comstock:  A Story of 22nd-Century America
Purchase this book from Amazon.com Purchase this book from Amazon.co.uk Purchase this book for Kindle Purchase this audiobook from Audible.com

Book added by: Administrator
Last updated by: illegible_scribble

Julian Comstock: A Story of 22nd-Century America

Synopsis | Excerpt | Reviews | Images

Author: Robert Charles Wilson
Publisher: Tor, 2009
Series: Julian Comstock: Book 1

0. Julian: A Christmas Story
1. Julian Comstock

Book Type: Novel
Genre: Science-Fiction
Sub-Genre Tags: Apocalyptic/Post-Apocalyptic
Dying Earth
Dystopia
If you liked Julian Comstock: A Story of 22nd-Century America you might like these books.
Awards:
Lists:  
Links:
Avg Member Rating:
(82 reads / 54 ratings)


Synopsis

In the reign of President Deklan Comstock, a reborn United States is struggling back to prosperity. Over a century after the Efflorescence of Oil, after the Fall of the Cities, after the Plague of Infertility, after the False Tribulation, after the days of the Pious Presidents, the sixty stars and thirteen stripes wave from the plains of Athabaska to the national capital in New York City. In Colorado Springs, the Dominion sees to the nation's spiritual needs. In Labrador, the Army wages war on the Dutch. America, unified, is rising once again.

Then out of Labrador come tales of a new Ajax-Captain Commongold, the Youthful Hero of the Saguenay. The ordinary people follow his adventures in the popular press. The Army adores him. The President is... troubled. Especially when the dashing Captain turns out to be his nephew Julian, son of the falsely accused and executed Bryce.

Treachery and intrigue dog Julian's footsteps. Hairsbreadth escapes and daring rescues fill his days. Stern resolve and tender sentiment dice for Julian's soul, while his admiration for the works of the Secular Ancients, and his adherence to the evolutionary doctrines of the heretical Darwin, set him at fatal odds with the hierarchy of the Dominion. Plague and fire swirl around the Presidential palace when at last he arrives with the acclamation of the mob.

As told by Julian's best friend and faithful companion, a rustic yet observant lad from the west, this tale of the 22nd Century asks- and answers-the age-old question: "Do you want to tell the truth, or do you want to tell a story?"

This novel is a greatly-expanded version of the Hugo- and Sturgeon-nominated novella, Julian: A Christmas Story.


Excerpt

Chapter One

In October of 2172--the year the Election show came to town--Julian Comstock and I, along with his mentor Sam Godwin, rode to the Tip east of Williams Ford, where I came to possess a book, and Julian tutored me in one of his heresies.

There was a certain resolute promptness to the seasons in Athabaska in those days. Summers were long and hot, December brought snow and sudden freezes, and most years the River Pine ran freely by the first of March. Spring and fall were mere custodial functions, by comparison. Today might be the best we would get of autumn--the air brisk but not cold, the long sunlight unhindered by any cloud. It was a day we ought to have spent under Sam Godwin's tutelage, reading chapters from The Dominion History of the Union or Otis's War and How to Conduct It. But Sam wasn't a heartless overseer, and the gentle weather suggested the possibility of an outing. So we went to the stables where my father worked, and drew horses, and rode out of the Estate with lunches of black bread and salt ham in our back- satchels.

At first we headed south along the Wire Road, away from the hills and the town. Julian and I rode ahead while Sam paced his mount behind us, his Pittsburgh rifle in the saddle holster at his side. There was no perceptible threat or danger, but Sam Godwin believed in preparedness--if he had a gospel, it was BE PREPARED; also, SHOOT FIRST; and probably, DAMN THE CONSEQUENCES. Sam, who was nearly fifty winters old, wore a dense brown beard stippled with white hairs, and was dressed in what remained presentable of his Army of the Californias uniform. Sam was nearly a father to Julian, Julian's own true father having performed a gallows dance some years before, and lately Sam had been more vigilant than ever, for reasons he hadn't discussed, at least with me.

Julian was my age (seventeen), and we were approximately the same height, but there the resemblance ended. Julian had been born an Aristo, or Eupatridian, as they say back east, while my family was of the leasing class. His face was smooth and pale; mine was dark and lunar, scarred by the same Pox that took my sister Flaxie to her grave in '63. His yellow hair was long and almost femininely clean; mine was black and wiry, cut to stubble by my mother with her sewing scissors, and I washed it once a week--more often in summer, when the creek behind the cottage warmed to a pleasant temperature. His clothes were linen and silk, brass- buttoned, cut to fit; my shirt and pants were coarse hempen cloth, sewn to a good approximation but clearly not the work of a New York tailor.

And yet we were friends, and had been friends for three years, ever since we met by chance in the hills west of the Duncan and Crowley Estate. We had gone there to hunt, Julian with his rifle and me with a simple muzzleloader, and we crossed paths in the forest and got to talking. We both loved books, especially the boys' books written by an author named Charles Curtis Easton. I had been carrying a copy of Easton's Against the Brazilians, illicitly borrowed from the Estate library--Julian recognized the title but vowed not to rat on me for possessing it, since he loved the book as much as I did and longed to discuss it with a fellow enthusiast--in short, he did me an unbegged favor; and we became fast friends despite our differences.

In those early days I hadn't known how fond he was of Philosophy and such petty crimes as that. But I suppose it wouldn't have mattered to me, if I had.

Today Julian turned east from the Wire Road and took us down a lane bordered by split- rail fences on which dense blackberry gnarls had grown up, between fields of wheat and gourds just lately harvested. Before long we passed the rude shacks of the Estate's indentured laborers, whose near- naked children gawked at us from the dusty lane- side, and I deduced that we were headed for the Tip, because where else on this road was there to go?--unless we continued on for many hours more, all the way to the ruins of the old oil towns, left over from the days of the False Tribulation.

The Tip was located a distance from Williams Ford in order to prevent poaching and disorder. There was a strict pecking order to the Tip. It worked this way: professional scavengers hired by the Estate brought their pickings from ruined places to the Tip, which was a pine- fenced enclosure (a sort of stockade) in an open patch of grassland. There the newly- arrived goods were roughly sorted, and riders were dispatched to the Estate to make the highborn aware of the latest discoveries. Then various Aristos (or their trusted servants) rode out to claim the prime gleanings. The next day the leasing class would be allowed to sort through what was left; and after that, if anything remained, indentured laborers could rummage through it, if they calculated it was worthwhile to make the journey.

Every prosperous town had a Tip, though in the East it was sometimes called a Till, a Dump, or an Eebay.

Today we were lucky. A dozen wagonloads of scrounge had just arrived, and riders hadn't yet been sent to notify the Estate. The gate of the enclosure was manned by an armed Reservist, who looked at us suspiciously until Sam announced the name of Julian Comstock. Then the guard briskly stepped aside, and we went inside the fence.

A chubby Tipman, eager to show off his bounty, hurried toward us as we dismounted and moored our horses. "Happy coincidence!" he cried.

"Gentlemen!" Addressing mostly Sam by this remark, with a cautious smile for Julian and a disdainful sidelong glance at me. "Anything in particular you're looking for?"

"Books," said Julian, before Sam or I could answer.

"Books! Well--ordinarily, I set aside books for the Dominion Conservator..."

"This boy is a Comstock," Sam said. "I don't suppose you mean to balk him."

The Tipman promptly reddened. "No, not at all--in fact we came across something in our digging--a sort of library in miniature--I'll show you, if you like."

That was intriguing, especially to Julian, who beamed as if he had been invited to a Christmas party; and we followed the stout Tipman to a freshly-arrived canvasback wagon, from which a shirtless laborer was tossing bundles into a stack beside a tent.

The twine- wrapped bales contained books--ancient books, wholly free of the Dominion Stamp of Approval. They must have been more than a century old, for although they were faded it was obvious that they had once been colorful and expensively printed, not made of stiff brown paper like the Charles Curtis Easton books of modern times. They had not even rotted much. Their smell, under the cleansing Athabaska sunlight, was inoffensive.

"Sam!" Julian whispered ecstatically. He had already drawn his knife, and he began slicing through the twine.

"Calm down," said Sam, who wasn't an enthusiast like Julian.

"Oh, but--Sam! We should have brought a cart!"

"We can't carry away armloads, Julian, nor would we ever be allowed to. The Dominion scholars will have all this, and most of it will be locked up in their Archive in New York City, if it isn't burned. Though I expect you can get away with a volume or two if you're discreet about it."

Copyright © 2009 by Robert Charles Wilson


Reviews

Julian Comstock: A Story of 22nd-Century Ame...

- illegible_scribble
  (12/20/2014)
Julian Comstock: A Story of 22nd-Century Ame...

- justifiedsinner
  (12/13/2016)

Images

No alternate cover images currently exist for this novel. Be the first to submit one!