The Last Plutarch - Available now!
Death is not enough to break Meric’s faith in the Plutarchs; only the Truth can do that.
The city of Panchaea is the last bastion of civilization in an electrically-dead world. Three hundred Plutarchs rule the thirty-thousand Plebians within. The Fog provides all they need–vehicles and homes congeal from the gray haze as needed–but only the Plutarchs can control it. In return, the Plebians yield two things the Fog cannot: food and soldiers.
As a Plebian soldier, Meric is eager to prove himself in the Wildlands, where savages and worse things prowl. But the Fog is not what he's been told, and when Meric stumbles into the truth, the Plutarchs cannot suffer him to live. Nor can Meric stand by while his family and friends remain their unwitting slaves. He has a plan to topple the rulers he once worshiped and save the one man who told him the truth, but its success may leave him with a choice: to destroy the source of Plutarch power–or rule as one of them.
What is a Utility Fog?
A utility fog is a theoretical technology proposed by Dr. John Storrs Hall. It's basically a network of microscopic robots capable of connecting, making limited computations, and transferring electricity. On a macro scale, those basic abilities could (ideally) translate into the formation of new goods and structures upon command. A "fog" of such micro-bots could be programmed to form almost any solid object, even changing color (by reflecting different wavelengths of light along a surface), and simulating different materials. Foglets could combine to form a "steel" wall, for instance, then change to a curtain on the fly, before dissipating back into fog.
Although certainly exciting, there are dangers inherent in any new technology, and the Last Plutarch focuses on ways a utility fog might be misused by a power-hungry plutocracy to repress those under their rule.
What are the major themes in this novel?
Beneath the action, the novel explores three underlying themes:
(1) the wealthy/elite class vs the plebian masses (aka abuse of power by society's upper echelon) - illustrated by the power differential between the Plutarchs and the Plebians. The upper class restricts information and technology to maintain their power, rationalizing its usage by viewing the lower class as being inferior and unfit for its potential.
(2) technology VS nature - illustrated by Meric's lifestyle in Panchaea and the Wildlands, and the fear and hostility with which the Panchaeans view the natural world
(3) god-as-institutionalized-religion VS god-as-the-universe - shown through the difference in views toward religion/God by the Plebians and the "savages." The Plebians have been trained to see the Plutarchs as God's Chosen, and to see God as essentially an untouchable, unreachable, external being. The tribes in the Wildlands instead view God as the natural world itself; as the trees and the rocks and the rivers, not a separate entity but a thing of which they are all a part; theirs is a more internal, holistic view.
Is there any hidden symbolism in the novel?
I like novels with layers, and there is some hidden and not-so-hidden symbolism for anyone who cares to find it. In the first chapter, for instance, several animals are marched past in the procession before the Plutarchs' show themselves. The animals represent different eras in the rise and fall of western civilization. The most obvious two are the she-wolf and the eagle. The she-wolf suckling twin cubs is a symbol of Rome, being tied to the myth of Romulus and Remus, and represents the Roman Empire. The bald eagle is obviously the symbol of America (which is why, since the US has fallen long before the start of the book, its wings are clipped and talons shackled). The owl is meant to stand for the Renaissance, the lion of English rule, the "screeching monkeys and mischievous lemurs" for the chaos of the middle ages, and finally the sheep for the farmers of pre-Greek cultures (such as the Etruscans).
What does the last line mean?
It's partially a tribute to "The Last of the Mohicans" by James Fenimore Cooper, paralleling Tamenund's last-page speech about the rise and fall of his people, although it's meant to apply to Meric's people and the rise and fall of civilization up to that point.