Creeping Hemlock Press / August 2008
Reviewed by: Blu Gilliand
Children of the New Disorder was originally slated to be the second in Creeping Hemlock’s series of post-apocalyptic novellas grouped under the banner “Unto Dust.” The first entry in the series, Jack’s Magic Beans, was pulled from the publisher by author Brian Keene. As a result, the series has been cancelled, and Disorder has been fast-tracked for publication as a stand-alone book.
After reading Disorder, I’m sorry Creeping Hemlock isn’t going to continue “Unto Dust.” Although losing work by an author with Keene’s pull has to be tough on a small press, I think Tim Lebbon and Lindy Moore have delivered what could have been a strong kickoff to the series.
Disorder is set in the aftermath of a man-made plague, itself an attempt by a shadowy group identified only as “the priests” to cure a wave of stillborn deliveries afflicting women. This cure, a mysterious elixir spread through the air, resulted in a rash of “plague babies,” monstrous creatures borne out of women’s fear and frustration, that proved to be a danger to all living children. The elixir also resulted in widespread infertility among the female population, sending mankind as a whole on the path towards extinction.
Chaylie is a “baby burner,” an outcast charged with a hideously necessary job in this new world. Along with her partner Ker, Chaylie spends her nights disposing of plague babies that are collected and dumped, still alive, into a pit on the outskirts of their village. Every moment on the job reminds her of her own daughter, taken at birth by one of the monstrous creatures. She’s a woman on the brink of madness, and the secrets her partner is harboring may be the final push over the edge.
Disorder is a tight, quick read, but what it lacks in length it makes up for in substance. With just a few broad strokes, Lebbon and Moore do an amazing job of creating a fully formed picture of a society collapsing in on itself. The loss of her child is Chaylie’s own personal apocalypse, and through it we get a better understanding of the disastrous events that are bringing this particular world to its grisly end.
Apocalyptic tales are bleak by nature, and this one is no exception. What sets it apart is the focus on Chaylie. Instead of following a group of survivors intent on restarting civilization, as is so often the case with stories of this kind, we journey with one woman whose suffering won’t be eased by the restoration of lights and running water. For this victim, salvaging a piece of her soul would be enough.
Lebbon, Moore, and Creeping Hemlock all have a winner on their hands with Children of the New Disorder. Hopefully enough success will follow to see the “Unto Dust” series live again.
Pre-Order/Purchase Children of the New Disorder by Tim Lebbon and Lindy Moore.