The Vortex of Éire Series
by Grace Bridges
Pub Date: July 2015
Publisher: Splashdown Books
Start a book with a narrative about a dog – that’s a sure-fire way to catch my interest! But as I continued through the first few pages of Mariah’s Dream, I quickly realized this was no book about a dog, but a dark, post-apocalyptic story of what man’s unthinking or even intentional folly could let loose on our world.
Meet twenty-three year old Mariah, computer programmer and data entry for a food records office in a barren Belfast, who is disgusted with the food rationing resulting from a “terminator gene” that caused the plants to stop reproducing, thus rendering the soil sterile. The rationing (and other “Big Brother” atrocities) is mandated by the World Senate, whose cyborg soldiers enforce the rules with deadly force. She and some friends decide to try to find good soil wherever they can and see if they can grow food to help those who can’t get enough any other way. One of them, Mariah’s best friend Naomi, develops a fertilizer that seemingly could change the world for the better, but is arrested and reportedly executed by the Senate. Then trouble really starts when a disease wipes out most of the population. Mariah and several of her friends survive the first round, but it begins to mutate. They fear they must find a way to survive, or risk the death of the last of the human race.
Cut periodically to Faith, first met as a young girl living in a fertile Belfast some 70 years earlier, who grows up to write apps and programs to help farmers get the most out of their crops. She suffers from periodic blackouts with memory lapses for which doctors cannot find a cause. Her passion is growing enough food so everyone has all they want. She also helps feed the needy at soup kitchens. But what is her connection to Mariah’s story?
Once in a while a book comes along that takes the reader out of their norm, which shakes his foundations a bit, as it were. For me, Mariah’s Dream was that book. I normally read for pleasure, for pure escapism, which I think is why I have always liked science fiction so much. This book brought the world crashing home to me. It made me think, made me look at things of this world I live in in a different, less self-centered way. And it made me angry! I realized that while this is fiction, it might NOT be. Man currently possesses the technology and the power- and control-hunger to cause global destruction NOW, and quite possibly without even meaning to. This is scary, and it was often terrifying for Mariah and her friends while they were trying not only to survive, but to help others survive as well. Their underlying desire, their dream, was to get the earth to grow food again so that people could eat and live. And then, because of man’s short-sightedness, greed and lust for power, it all came crashing down.
I cannot tell you the meaning of the title; that would be spoilers. I can tell you that Grace Bridges has written a marvelously thought-provoking and entertaining book with some very real characters whose story is one of survival and love of fellow man. I liked this book very much. — David Reynolds