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Drop by Drop
by Morgan Llywelyn
Tor, $25.99, 319pp
Published: June 2018

This is Morgan Llwelyn’s first foray into science fiction and a very interesting foray it is. In a not too distant future, technology is an even bigger part of everyday life than it is currently.  People all have “AllComs” to do everything from video-calling to opening their doors and huge 3D wall screens for interactive media viewing.  Until “The Change” that is.  It started slowly, bank cards melted in ATMs, pens disintegrated in people’s hands, mild annoyances at first but growing until technology starts to break down because well, pretty much everything we use and depend on in day-to-day life is petrochemical-based and all those items were disintegrating making the technology useless.

We experience this creeping catastrophe with the people of small town Sycamore River. Our cast includes Jack, an international “fixer” home to visit his aunt Bea who works at the local bank, the fired chemist, the ruthless chemical plant owner and his wife, the vet, the bar owner, the hermit and their families.  They cope with the “Change” in various ingenious ways while learning to count on each other instead of technology. For people’s day-to-day lives this might have been a blessing as people give up their devices and start talking to and interacting with each other.  And without the constant instant news, the disasters of faraway seem just that - far away.

This book is as much, or possibly more, of a character study of how people deal with a radical societal change than it is science fiction. The liquefying plastic causes the changes in people’s lives but we are more immersed in how the people cope and interact with each other than worrying about the causes of the problem. I cared about these people and their problems - both those related to the Change as well as those just related to being humans interacting with other humans. The ending  was a bit of a letdown unless Ms Llwelyn intends to write the sequel; this book screams for a sequel to let the reader know how the people of Sycamore River continue to fare in this new world. Highly recommended. ~~ Stephanie L Bannon

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