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11.26.2014

Scenes from The Last Supper - Part 2: Life in God's Hope

In the eight-part series, I will be discussing the world and the characters of my upcoming book, THE LAST SUPPER, due out on 12/13/14. Original artwork by Justin Wasson. Pre-order paperbacks now. Kindle pre-orders due on 12/1/14.

Today, I want to talk about God's Hope, and other towns like it that populate the Supperverse.

The Last Supper Justin Wasson
Welcome to God's Hope. Population: You're Screwed
When I first envisioned a world where weeds and pollen had become something akin to viruses, I thought of the domed net system. A membranous material that could let the light in but somehow keep the pollen granules out, so new serpent weeds couldn't sprout in populated areas.

The Divine Rite has hundreds of such installations all over the world, and God's Hope is one of them. This is where John lived and where he has spent most of his life. As you can see above, the Divine Rite churches dominate the landscape as shining beacons. Most of the structures, however, are small, rudimentary, wooden, but everything is very orderly and neat under the net. There is just enough of everything to go around, to keep people content, which is why the Rite considers Justification is so vital, even if it is barbaric.

Of course, it isn't all a perfectly self-contained bubble. There are seeds of discontent sown in various places, people behaving in seditious ways. In a defunct military installation in the outskirts of Gods Hope lives an old man named James Turpin. He vividly remembers when the Rite took hold, and he was grandfathered in when the Justification program started, so he doesn't have to worry about taking a test or getting a Supper. This gives him room to dabble in verboten acts like reading banned literature and distilling alcohol.

Naturally, John befriends the man during a time of great need.
Depending on who you were speaking to, Turpin was an “evil atheist” who performed abortions and put hexes on local missionaries. Others claimed he shot intruders with devilish pre-Blight weaponry hidden in an underground cache somewhere on his property. But the most popular anecdote, and the one that was actually true, was that he ran a “poison factory.” That was God’s Hope lingo for booze.

He might have been the town’s answer to the urbane wizard with the taboo apothecary, but Turpin’s medicine came from copper kettles and unmarked mason jars rather than bubbling cauldrons. I’d never before taken a drink of any alcohol apart from the thimble of sour grape juice at Sunday Mass, and I had no idea what intoxication actually felt like, but now something within me craved a glut of Turpin’s poison.

I guess it was just a part of the natural progression of things that led to me sitting here now.

But why does the Rite allow this man to do these things, which run so counter to the culture? John has a theory:
Drinking and drugs, of course, were not part of the regimen of anyone who planned on passing Justification, and it was difficult to get any in large quantities outside a Sin Bin, facilities where people surrendered their last year of life so they could live in complete debauchery. But liquor was easier to get than one might think. Like most “forbidden” things in God’s Hope, it wasn’t exactly illegal. It was just another tempting piece of fruit the Rite liked to have lying around for the weak of will, and the price for succumbing to such things was deadly.
You may be wondering about the fates of other places in this future world. What about major cities like New York, L.A., or Chicago? Are they covered in nets as well?

While all these places aren't addressed specifically in this book --  since it's told through the eyes of John and his own scope of the world is limited, details are murky -- other stories in this world will reveal the fates of the great metropolitan areas. But I can tell you most didn't survive, and it wasn't just about the weeds. They were torn apart from within by people fighting to stay alive during the worse of the Blight and the battles that followed over food and other resources, the final blow being dealt by the Divine Rite's regime when they steamrolled over those who rose against them. But all that happened a long time ago in the context of this story. What's left now are these these protected areas, humanity's last stand against a very frightening and increasingly alien landscape.

And what of that alien landscape? Well, that will be for another blog.

To be continued . . .


11.24.2014

Scenes from The Last Supper - Part 1: What's in a Meal?

In the eight-part series, I will be discussing the world and the characters of my upcoming book, THE LAST SUPPER, due out on 12/13/14. Original artwork by Justin Wasson. Pre-order paperbacks now. Kindle pre-orders due on 12/1/14.

First, let's discuss what a Last Supper is in the context of this story.

The Last Supper illustrations Justin Wasson Allison M. Dickson
This is John's Last Supper. It has a salad. He's never much liked salad.

Put simply, the Last Supper is a death kit comprised of a poisoned feast. Citizens in this ravaged version of earth receive one when they fail Justification.

What exactly is Justification?

It is a yearly test citizens sixteen and over must take in order to prove their worthiness to society. In this ravaged world with so few resources to spread among the remaining population, the luxury of life is afforded only to the most worthy, those who follow the strict guidelines set forth by the ruling party known as the Divine Rite. Some of the guidelines include regularly attending church, not producing out of turn, fulfilling a minimal work and salary quota, and avoiding hedonistic pleasures like drinking, smoking, and gluttony. The test is conducted according to an algorithm that doesn't make exceptions, as John Welland and his family soon learned when his wife, who had been stricken by cancer earlier that year, received a Last Supper for failing to meet her work obligations.

Each Supper is designed according to specifications set in the Justification exam, although there is no guarantee you will get what you want. It comes in a box decorated with a facsimile of the famous Da Vinci painting of its namesake, and inside, along with the food, is a letter designed to remind the citizen that he or she is making a worthy sacrifice on behalf of the rest of the world.

To ensure a painless and dignified passing, we present you
with a meal handcrafted by our expert chefs to your exact tastes
as specified on your Justification Exam.

The Divine Rite will place your earthly remains in a planter
with a beautiful tree for one of our scenic Memorial
Gardens designed with the comfort of your eternal rest in mind.
The Holy Uniter would like to thank you for your service to our
nation and to the world.

The meal itself is, at best, of suspicious origin. Though it smells and looks tantalizing, the texture doesn't match. It all has a strange manufactured quality, which is not surprising given how rare things like meat and chocolate are in this a world ravaged by blight and serpent weeds. John's meal includes a hunk of meat (species indeterminate), some stale bread, a piece of chocolate cake, a glass of wine, and a salad.

John hates salad, but as he remarks in the beginning of his harrowing memoir, it's what he deserves. We soon learn why he feels that way.

Read Part 2: Life in God's Hope