Early next week I have the opportunity to interview Hugh Howey, author of Wool. I stumbled upon his book in the New Titles list and had no idea that the author was quite such an internet sensation. It wasn’t until I had finished the book and wanted to find out if he had more titles that I came upon his blog and Facebook page. Here I learned that that Wool had been self-published as a novelette in e-book format, and demands from customers had encouraged Howey to continue writing this series which has spent considerable time on the Amazon top 100.
Random House has published the hardback version and the film rights have been optioned by Ridley Scott. What intrigues me about this book is that not only is it a great read, but also the process by which it has become a bestseller, as it has skirted the usual channels of traditional publishing. I am looking forward to discussing some of these issues with Howey next week.
Wool is set a few 100 years in the future. The inhabitants of this future live in a silo – a massive silo in fact. It takes days and days of hiking to go from top to bottom via a staircase. Generations have now lived in this environment, life is considered normal and everyone is presumably going about their business from the mechanics on the lower levels deep underground, to the hydroponic gardens and farms further up, IT who keep the computers going and the nursery where the babies are born. Top level consists of screens where the outside world can be seen. Outside is uninhabitable, the air poisonous, tall buildings (perhaps the residue of a city) crumble in the distance. It is a wasteland.
Life in the Silo is safe – organised, and controlled. Strict rules are adhered to, and if not then you are sent outside to die, but before the poisonous air takes you everyone who goes outside cleans the screens with a piece of wool so that the residue of dust and film is cleared, and for a while at least the view of the outside is uninhibited. Why people sent to their death choose to clean the screens doesn’t make any sense, but as this and other questions are answered and the characters develop a really good mystery/science fiction/adventure book emerges. The strength of Wool to me was that is doesn’t fit a genre, it’s a bit of everything and it rollicks along at a great pace.
The Library has the prequel Shift on order where we learn why the silos were set up in the first place. Keep an eye out on the blog for the interview next week.