The Girl With All the Gifts author M.R. Carey has shared the first excerpt from The Boy on the Bridge, his forthcoming prequel set in the same post-apocalyptic world as Gifts but taking place about a decade earlier:
Once upon a time, in a land blighted by terror, there was a very clever boy.
The people thought the boy could save them, so they opened their gates and sent him out into the world.
To where the monsters lived.
The book will be available May 2 from Orbit Books, but in the meantime, you can watch Carey read the first chapter on his official Facebook page.
While The Girl With All the Gifts begins at a heavily-guarded research facility, The Boy on the Bridge begins in motion—on the Rosalind Franklin, a massive armored motor home carrying scientists and soldiers, making its way across a ravaged England. Its mission: take on the mantle of its predecessor, the Charles Darwin, by retrieving key specimens. Here’s a taste:
The bucks have all been passed and the arguments thrashed out until they don’t even bleed any more. Finally, after a hundred false starts, the Rosalind Franklin begins her northward journey—from Beacon on the south coast of England all the way to the wilds of the Scottish Highlands. There aren’t many who think she’ll make it that far, but they wave her off with bands and garlands all the same. They cheer the bare possibility.
Rosie is an awesome thing to behold, a land leviathan, but she’s not by any means the biggest thing that ever rolled. In the years before the Breakdown, the most luxurious motor homes, the class A diesel-pushers, were a good sixteen or seventeen metres long. Rosie is smaller than that: she has to be because her armour plating is extremely thick and there’s a limit to the weight her treads will carry. In order to accommodate a crew of twelve, certain luxuries have had to be sacrificed. There’s a single shower and a single latrine, with a rota that’s rigorously maintained. The only private space is in the bunks, which are tiered three-high like a Tokyo coffin hotel.
The going is slow, a pilgrimage through a world that turned its back on humankind the best part of a decade ago. Dr Fournier, in an inspirational speech, likens the crew to the wise men in the Bible who followed a star. Nobody else in the crew finds the analogy plausible or appealing. There are twelve of them, for one thing—more like the apostles than the wise men, if they were in the Jesus business in the first place, and they are not in any sense following a star. They’re following the trail blazed a year before by another team in an armoured vehicle exactly like their own—a trail planned out by a panel of fractious experts, through every terrain that mainland Britain has to offer. Fields and meadows, woodland and hills, the peat bogs of Norfolk and the Yorkshire moors.
All these things look, at least to Dr Samrina Khan, very much as she remembers them looking in former times. Recent events—the collapse of global civilisation and the near-extinction of the human species—have left no mark on them that she can see. Khan is not surprised. The time of human dominion on Earth is barely a drop in the ocean of geological time, and it takes a lot to make a ripple in that ocean.
Watch the video here:
You can also read Chapter 1 here. Once the page gets 1,600 likes, they’ll release Chapter 2.