It's one of the bleakest things I've written, set in one of the more evocative settings--a sprawling, windowless factory filled with massive oily machines. Picture it. Smell the grease and the warm metal and the mysterious grimy filth. Within the factory, there are hundreds, possibly thousands, of rooms, most of them sealed behind locked doors. And within these rooms, you'll find the saddest child slaves you've ever imagined, rag-draped Dickensian wretches doing endless menial tasks day after day.
Cruel robots called Watchers guard them, punish them when they fail to work, and feed them hideous gray food bricks once a day. Doesn't that sound uplifting? I actually think it is one of the more uplifting things I've written.
The book introduces us to four main characters.
Bik, a mostly hairless, tiny thing in the filthiest scrap of a robe you've ever seen. He spends his days polishing mysterious purple rocks using a harsh chemical polish.
Hen, an emotionally disconnected girl who does her best to avoid personal interaction, she spends her days climbing up and down a towering contraption called the Mechanism, like a little bug.
Ekir, a bent-backed boy, much abused by an older supervisor named Ous, he spends his days preparing and serving meals on a nice table in a lush dining room and then cleaning up afterward when nobody eats the food. Nobody ever eats the food.
Kuo, a damaged and possibly disturbed young man who spends his days climbing up and own the enormous fat folds of a headless monster called the Grong, feeding it meat paste from a bucket. He might be losing his mind.
These four eventually cross paths and descend into the bowels of the factory, uncovering secrets and horrors beyond description.
If you've never read the book, let me encourage you to do so.
For a deeper look at the meaning behind the story, check out this luscious article!
To check out the book, click on the book cover above.