Whispers of Wickedness
There are five stories in this issue, each of at least 5000 words in length, and the first is Gareth D. Jones’s Roadmaker. Something’s happened. Civilisation has collapsed but in one village it’s not too bad. People reminisce about the old days but are reluctant to get things going again. Then, one day, some probes start appearing that initially seem like space probes. It turns out that they’re scouts for an automated road-making system that is heading straight for the village. It’s a gorgeous story, reminiscent of Ian McDonald’s Desolation Road or of Ray Bradbury, and it’s the highlight of this issue.
Whispers of Wickedness
Roadwalker by Gareth D Jones takes us to another future-primitive society through which an intimidating, enigmatic road has been carved by a mysterious machine. No one knows where it leads, who built it or why. So, cheek still damp from his truelove’s kiss, a young farmhand sets off to find out. This is one of an occasional series but stands alone as a yet another warmly compelling piece.
The last story is "Roadwalker" by Gareth D. Jones. This is a sequel to a story called "Roadmaker" that appeared in issue #16 but it's not necessary to have read that (I haven't) to enjoy the story. It takes place in what appears to be a post-apocalyptic world which has few machines. In the previous story, a road-making machine had come through the village of DeFrey and had paved a road going north. In this story, one of the young villagers named Luke the Hand decides to travel north to see what lies beyond. Thus starts an amusing journey that I want to see more of.
'Roadwalker' by Gareth D. Jones is the sequel to a previous story and, on reading this, it seems likely that there is something farther down the road in the future. The story could go on and on but, thankfully, it's well-written and there is mileage in it. An entertaining tale set in the future after civilisation has collapsed, it concerns the building of a road through the wilderness and the reaction of the people who encounter it.
Gereth D. Jones's "Roadwalker" seems set in a post-holocaust, or at least post-collapse, future -- for some mysterious reason a road has been built through a small village, and a young man decides to walk it, to see where it leads. Modest but pleasant -- and not finished: the story is a sequel, and clearly it will have sequels of its own.
Next comes "Roadrider" by Gareth D. Jones, the third in a series ("Roadmaker" and "Roadwalker" are the first two). Luke, Hubert and Zak continue down the road that has been built linking towns. Things get more interesting and they encounter a cave that will set off more events down the road. I look forward to the next installment.
Returning to the magazine, 'Roadrider' by Gareth D. Jones concludes a trilogy of stories concerning the aftermath of an unspecified collapse of society where a road-making machine cuts its way through villages and towns of a community. The relatively simple people are astounded at the appearance of the road and it is the young, spurred on by curiosity, who decide to investigate.
In this part of the story, the boys reach the conclusion to discover the identity of the road-maker. However, it's not the end which is important, it is the journey. Jones has created a certain ambience with this work, almost quaint in nature, which is compelling enough for one to want to read more. I would certainly suggest that if you have missed the previous 'Road' stories then it might be worth looking at the purchase of back copies.
Whispers of Wickedness
Gareth D Jones’ Roadmaker series continues with Roadrider, self-contained enough to be enjoyed – and understood – on its own, but a neat episode in a larger tale. Again, an easy-to-read yarn that hammers along at a cracking pace, it contains a satisfying mix of humour, imagination and a cast of affable characters.
A continuing series of stories that I've enjoyed is by Gareth D. Jones, about the effect of an automated road-building machine that was accidentally (it seems) activated in an apparent post-holocaust type of world. The third and fourth stories appear in these two issues: "Roadrider" and "Roadruler." In "Roadrider" some adventurous men discover the source of the machine, as the links between various cities are enhanced. And in "Roadruler" a political dimension is introduced, as the potential abuses of the road use system are lightly touched on; as well as the stresses of uniting several villages under a single ruler. These remain enjoyable, but they have become a bit sketchy, and not quite unified enough as stories.
Next up, we have the latest in Gareth D Jones' "Road" stories. This one is "Roadruler" and we are told is the penultimate one. Here, the Road has linked many towns and the Mayor of Pallas has proclaimed himself Comptroller of the Road and imposed onerous taxes. Jones gives us a look at many people on one end of the road or the other and how their lives are changing. This is all told in a breezy, fun style and makes us hungry for more. Only one more chapter? I'd like to read more!
The third story, "Roadbuilder" is, alas, the last installment in Gareth D. Jones' "Roadmaker" series. In this one, we get updates of the characters we have come to love from the other installments and more old technology is discovered and made to work. Things get wrapped up somewhat but I do hope that sometime Jones will turn this into a novel. He is talented at creating characters and has a style I enjoy.