If the Covid-19 lockdown feels like living in an alternative reality, imagine a more extreme version of London where motor vehicles have all but vanished from the streets, shops are few and far between, and people once again grow much of their own food.
This is Londonia in 2072, where people speak a patois of French, Italian, Polish and old English; coronavirus has been replaced by muta-pox and Xtra-flu; and Saffend is an island off the south coast.
In this post-apocalyptic world, Hoxton is a ‘finder’ who has taken over St Leonard’s Church in Hackrovia, where she lives with her horse and two giant dogs, battling lashings of extreme weather and marauding gangsters.
Barter has become the main form of exchange, and Hoxton makes a living locating items for people – typically objects salvaged from the era of consumer excess before the Final Curtain in the 2030s and the Unknown Time that followed.
Hoxton’s deeper search is to understand her own past. This quest takes her from Bethy-green and Sureditch to the affluent walled city-state of the Cincture, leading her to discover the worst and also the best of the strange new world she inhabits.
With wry pokes at our early 21st-century obsessions, Londonia fizzes with boisterous humour and quirky invention.
The argot is especially amusing – who wouldn’t want to be able to call someone a foitling putainfukka?
For those needing diversion, this chunky and handsomely produced novel is a delicious book to sink into; it also helps to think through what really matters in life and perhaps to learn a lesson or two from our own current predicament.
Londonia by Kate A. Hardy is published by Tartarus Press, 2020, ISBN: 978-1-912586-19-6; RRP: £35.00.