cover image The Tragedy of King Leere, Goatherd of the La Sals

The Tragedy of King Leere, Goatherd of the La Sals

Steven L. Peck. By Common Consent, $9.95 mass market (232p) ISBN 978-1-948218-01-6

Peck (Gilda Trillim: Shepherdess of Rats) retells King Lear in a post–climate catastrophe Utah in this impeccable, idiosyncratic novel. King Leere has devoted his life to buying up lands in the La Sal Mountains and raising transgenic goats in the arid landscape. He decides to retire and promises to divide the land between his sons, Neril and Regan, and daughter Delia based on essays they compose about loving the land. When Delia instead announces a plan to remove the goats and foster the return of aspens and formerly native species, Leere disinherits her and splits the inheritance between his sons, not knowing they plan to immediately sell it for strip-mining. Delia flees with her crush, Ellie (an openly lesbian Mormon), and later shows her how genetically engineered porcupines with monkey hands have already begun the reforesting in a plot of land she owns. In his anger and increasing dementia after learning of his sons’ plot, Leere sends his illegally acquired battle robot, KENT, on a brutal revenge spree, with massive collateral damage for them all. Peck builds a fascinating world of technological solutions to global warming alongside Leere’s free verse monologues, an omniscient daemon narrator, and KENT’s paeans to King James English. Readers will instantly be won over by this wildly creative blend of stunning speculation, terrifying warning, and fraught relationships. (May)