Science Fiction/Thriller Book Review: The Mother Earth Insurgency

The Mother Earth Insurgency by J.G. Follansbee is a post-apocalyptic sci-fi novella I first stumbled across on Instafreebie when the author decided to give it out to promote the upcoming release of the first true novel in the series, Carbon Run. It was a runner up in the Writer’s of the Future Contest and has recently come out as a Quarter Finalist in the 2017 ScreenCraft Cinematic Short Story Contest.

In other words, it’s already gotten a bit of press before I picked it up.

It follows the story of Nick Sorrows (pronounced Sor-Ohs, as the character reminds our antagonist midway through the novella) as he attempts to infiltrate a terrorist plot spearheaded by the enigmatic and dangerous Jon Janicks. Nick works for the Bureau of Environmental Security, a quasi-governmental agency given power after an environmental catastrophe known as the Year of Storms.

Janicks is an environmental criminal who hates the idea of all the power, both literal electricity and figurative ability to make laws, concentrated in the hands of a few. He gathers together a team of expert hackers and bomb technicians in order to blow up a massive wind turbine and send a message to the BES – don’t tread on me.

Except… that’s not all there is to it.

Given how short the story is, if I go much further I’ll spoil all the plot. Suffice to say it’s a quick read and I plowed through it in just under an hour and a half. The world building is fantastic. Follansbee manages to introduce many sci-fi concepts to the reader in the span of a few pages without having to stop the action and explain exactly what’s going on, and many of the problems experienced by his protagonists (and their concerns) feel like they directly came from decisions being made in our world, right now.

The environmental outcomes were well researched and felt like they could easily happen if we continue on our path today, and the characters each felt like people you could meet in a detention camp in the modern day. I like that his terrorists were relatable, rather than being the sort of lazy cardboard cut out villains I’ve seen in other books. You can clearly follow their motivations, and may end up oscillating between sympathy for their plight and horror at the acts of desperation they commit throughout the book.

I don’t often give out five stars, but it’s telling that I went and bought Carbon Run and pre-ordered City of Ice and Dreams after I finished The Mother Earth Insurgency. The hype generated by the contests is well deserved, and next week I’ll be putting up my review of Carbon Run.

5/5, can’t wait to see where the series goes from here.