World Running Down

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Pub Date 14 Feb 2023 | Archive Date 14 Feb 2023

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Description

A transgender salvager on the outskirts of a dystopian Utah gets the chance to earn the ultimate score and maybe even a dash of romance. But there's no such thing as a free lunch…
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Valentine Weis is a salvager in the future wastelands of Utah. Wrestling with body dysphoria, he dreams of earning enough money to afford citizenship in Salt Lake City – a utopia where the testosterone and surgery he needs to transition is free, the food is plentiful, and folk are much less likely to be shot full of arrows by salt pirates. But earning that kind of money is a pipe dream, until he meets the exceptionally handsome Osric.

Once a powerful AI in Salt Lake City, Osric has been forced into an android body against his will and sent into the wasteland to offer Valentine a job on behalf of his new employer – an escort service seeking to retrieve their stolen androids. The reward is a visa into the city, and a chance at the life Valentine’s always dreamed of. But as they attempt to recover the “merchandise”, they encounter a problem: the android ladies are becoming self-aware, and have no interest in returning to their old lives.

The prize is tempting, but carrying out the job would go against everything Valentine stands for, and would threaten the fragile found family that’s kept him alive so far. He’ll need to decide whether to risk his own dream in order to give the AI a chance to live theirs.
A transgender salvager on the outskirts of a dystopian Utah gets the chance to earn the ultimate score and maybe even a dash of romance. But there's no such thing as a free lunch…
–––


Valentine Weis is...

Advance Praise

“Full of adventure, charm, and deeply human insights, the world in Hess’s World Running Down is an apocalypse you won’t want to leave.”

– Seth Fried, author of The Municipalists

“Full of adventure, charm, and deeply human insights, the world in Hess’s World Running Down is an apocalypse you won’t want to leave.”

– Seth Fried, author of The Municipalists


Available Editions

EDITION Other Format
ISBN 9781915202239
PRICE $17.99 (USD)
PAGES 400

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Average rating from 22 members


Featured Reviews

This really feels like a case of writing the book that you want to read and reaping the rewards. It's more empathetic, more romantic, and more fun than the Mad Max, Blade Runner, dystopian stories that have come before it. The characters are likeable and feel fully realized. The pacing is quick. The sci-fi ideas are interesting, while never bogging down the adventure. I think my one complaint is that the climax is a bit scattered as it ties up each of its plot threads, but that doesn't ruin the adventure as a whole.

Frankly, I think there needs to be more books like this, about kindness and love, and I'm thankful I got to read it.

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I'm so happy this book exists, and I can't wait to start making people read it. I've thought about it a great deal since finishing it, and keep bringing it up to friends I know will love it as much as I did.

Loveable cast of characters, tons of representation that felt authentic, a compelling quest, and a vibrant setting.

It took a few pages for me to get into, bc the beginning exposition was a tad clunky. There were also a few moments where I was confused as a lot happened in a short period of time, and it almost felt like I'd skipped some pages? But once I went back and purposefully slowed down and reread, the confusion went away. Honestly pretty minor nitpicks, though, and I look forward to reading many more books by Al Hess.

(ARC provided by Angry Robot)

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For what sometimes seems like a very pessimistic take on a possible future, World Running Down is a heartwarming read. I adored the characters, and the way the android and AI characters' search for self-realisation mirrored the similar journeys of the human characters. Though I'm perhaps not best placed to comment, I thought the trans masculine representation here was brilliant - the depictions of Valentine's dysphoria felt accurate. Al Hess also isn't afraid to confront tougher aspects of this world, but there's a wonderful undercurrent of care and empathy throughout.
The plotting becomes a tad erratic towards the end, but overall this was a highly enjoyable book - it felt like a refreshingly new take which can sit alongside the canon of other semi-apocalyptic road-trip through the desert tales.

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