Sam Winston’s novel What Came After is a different type of post-collapse story. It is set around 2050 and only the old-timers remember the world the way it was “before.” The United States has devolved into only 3 categories of people- Ownership, Management, and the “generics.”
Ownership is made up of the ultra-rich, mostly those whose position and money presumably were passed down to them from their parents because moving up in this caste system is pretty impossible.
Management is made up of everyone who works for Ownership. It’s possible to work your way up some within this group, but life is brutal nonetheless.
The “generics” are those who insist on trying to live on their own, outside the system. They do much of the physical labor and grunt work, but reap few benefits. The cost of living makes almost everything they grow or make beyond their reach to buy. But there are dangers if they try to live too independently.
In this future America, there are just a handful of businesses that run everything. There is one food production giant, PharmAgra, and they own all the seed that can be planted for food. And it is so chemically laden and genetically engineered that it poisons anyone who eats it without it first going through a decontamination process to render it safe- that will keep those generics from trying to skim off the top!
The story follows the efforts of one of these generics, Henry Weller, who dares to hope for a better life for his daughter.
I found this book to be a fascinating vision of how Big Ag could control and destroy the food crops they are already hard at work patenting and altering. I also found Sam Winston’s ideas of how the population sorts itself out to survive interesting. Best of all, the human spirit lives on because there continue to be a few renegades who just won’t resign themselves to the life imposed upon them. That bit of American determination is what made our country great in its beginning and what will one day return it to its origins.
Have you read this one? What did you think? Could America be headed to this kind of future if things aren’t headed off?