Outland Exile: Old Men and Infidels

Outland Exile: Old Men and Infidels opens in the Unity, a high-tech, totalitarian society where designer drugs are distributed by the government and computer-generated experiences and reality are interchangeable. W. Clark Boutwell’s protagonist is Malila, an up-and coming young lieutenant in the Democratic Unity Forces for Security, where specialised training begins at thirteen and forcible retirement from society comes at forty. When Malila’s attempt to end-run the system and deal with a recurring logistics problem in the Outlands falls foul of internal politicking, she’s sent beyond the borders of the Unity to clean up the mess – and face a reality she never dreamt existed.

W. Clark Boutwell posits a fascinating dystopia, with the United States split apart into political entities separated by wastelands as well as ideology, entire areas uninhabitable and extreme weather a fact of life. Malila is the young, polished product of a society where old people no longer exist, and personal ambition is everything. Coming from that background of power politics and casual cruelty, she comes face to face with a culture almost diametrically opposed to her own, in the Outlands where no civilisation is supposed to exist. Malila faces a crisis of belief and identity, as well as a struggle for personal survival in a world far beyond the reach of high-tech support. Outland Exile is packed with political and societal commentary, fast-paced action, and psychological conflict – a recommended read on many levels, and one that will keep you turning pages and thinking right through to the end.

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