It is 2050-a time of limited resources where all energy and water supplies are strictly controlled, each garment is recycled and every child is an eagerly-awaited prize.
Twenty years since Division when the Magnamater pioneered ASO – a new self-sufficient society, divided into three cohering parts, forged from the wreckage of old Britain.
To the west in Abovo, Maters rear all children before they graduate at eighteen to one of the fifteen provinces in Suris, where they will live and contribute until at fifty-five they are obliged to resort to Olim in the east.
It has taken ruthless dedication for overworked Fidelis officer Rachel Develin to achieve her elite status and uphold the principles that her office represents.
Her latest assignment begins with a routine interrogation but when the unaccountable death of a lifelong friend forces her investigations in a more unpredictable direction, she finds herself at the centre of a brewing storm. All her previous loyalties are irreversibly challenged as she uncovers devastating secrets that threaten the stability of ASO itself.
This is the story of who the faithful must become when their causes betray them.
ASO came as a surprise to me. I had not attempted any speculative fiction before this but having written the short story ‘Olim’, I realised I had the makings of an interesting and potentially bigger idea.
It is primarily about the unwilling but necessary separation of a mother and her child and explores how sustainable such separation could be when it so fundamentally challenges the natural order.
I have learned since writing ASO that the concept of retirement communities is not unique. Firhall village near Inverness in Scotland and Whitely village in Sussex are both examples of such a way of living. Sit on the beaches in Florida and witness the satisfaction of older people electively living together.
I wanted to ask whether this would be better than living in a society where one feels irrelevant and invisible.
The word here of course, is ’elective’.