SF & Fantasy

Darin Bradley’s “Noise”


Darin Bradley’s “Noise”

In the wake of the nation’s transition to digital television, a shadowy group called “Salvage” seizes control of abandoned analog airwaves. Warning of a coming collapse, Salvage instructs viewers in the steps that they must be willing to take to survive.

College students Hiram and Levi, have taken Salvage’s lessons to heart and when the chaos begins, they begin their journey to Amaranth: a sanctuary where they will usher in a new world even as the old one crumbles around them. The path to Amaranth isn’t easy, though, and Hiram and Levi will have to leave behind who they were to become what this brutal new world requires them to be.

They’ve saved the lessons of Salvage in a document they call “The Book.” It instructs them to shed their old names, wear masks and to kill without hesitation. Outsiders are threats to be eliminated or resources to be “foraged” for the good of the group, which is ultimately to be placed above the needs or concerns of any one individual. The new world looks a lot like something the old world called fascism.

Hiram and Levi lived half their lives in a fantasy world even before Salvage and the collapse: one of secret societies, amateur Ninja training and marathon Dungeons & Dragons games. Adult society held little for them, and in some ways, the promised collapse offered a second chance to return to the Eden of childhood. Tellingly, Hiram compares the post-collapse world to a Renaissance faire. This is an abandonment of an adulthood that never began and a return to make-believe. Is it not surprising, then, that the bloodshed required of them comes all the more easily? This is the dark side of Never Never Land.

Noise is not an easy read, but it is a very rewarding one, and sure to touch a nerve among those of my generation: we that came to age in the shadow of the Cold War, when the possibility of annihilation was whispered from every television set showing “The Day After” and a handful of dice and graph paper offered the possibility of escape, if only for a few hours.


One Response to “Darin Bradley’s “Noise””

  1. Jay Swartzfeger says:

    Thanks for the review, Matt. You’ve mentioned some ‘post-collapse’ in your twitter feed; do you have any post-collapse spec fic recommendations?

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