I met Conrad at the World Horror convention and, having read and enjoyed his short stories in both Inferno: New Tales of Terror and the Supernatural and Fast Ships Black Sails I was estatic to be given a chance to pick up his newest novel, One.
I was forced to read this book slower than I wanted to because I have a ridiculous amount of schoolwork to get through in a course I’m not enjoying — so I used One as my reward. Once I finished a section of schoolwork I allowed myself to read more of Conrad’s book. It was a great system, I loved the book so much it would motivate me to read the things I have to for school that (quite literally) put me to sleep.
One tells the story about the end of the world, and one man’s desperate attempt to get back to London and find his son. As a parent this is something I can totally relate to. In fact, when we were playing ‘What would you do if there was an EMP pulse that took out Winnipeg, etc, etc.’ my response was ‘Go west to my daughter’. No questions, no hesitations, no nothing. If the world goes to hell all around you, I think most parents responses would be the same. You love your partners but they are grown ups and able to fend for themselves…your children…not so much.
Thus, I was with Richard Jane every step of the way as he trudged across the country to get back to his son, Stanley. I understood his attachment to the last letter Stan had ever sent him, and I felt for him as he ventured through the wasteland that was now the world.
The story isn’t just about Richard looking for Stanley, there are many, many levels to it. Not least of all I was struck by how quickly our children grow up, how much we can miss if we aren’t looking. At one point Richard is thinking back to a time when he tucked Stanley (then three) in after a very full day. Conrad wrote: Best day of my life, Stanley. Thank you, mate. Night-night. So simple and yet, within context, so poignant. It made me cry when I first read it and even now makes me teary-eyed.
Conrad is a master storyteller and I highly recommend this book to anyone who likes survivor horror, apocalyptic stories, is a parent or has one.
I’ve asked Conrad to do an interview for Niteblade and he’s agreed, so hopefully in the near future I’ll be sharing a link to that. In the meantime — buy the book. Seriously.
One by Conrad Williams