cover image Appleseed


Matt Bell. Custom House, $27.99 (480p) ISBN 978-0-06-304014-4

Bell (In the House upon the Dirt Between the Lake and the Woods) delivers a stirring take on climate change, complicity, and human connection. In separate narratives set centuries apart, three characters struggle to remain true to themselves in hostile worlds. In 18th-century Ohio, Chapman, a faun, wanders the wilderness with his human brother, planting apple trees that will feed future settlers and may someday grow the fruit Chapman hopes will make him fully human. In a postapocalyptic late 21st-century North America, a man named John confronts his role in the creation of the corporation that controls the world’s food supply, and plots to tear down the system. A thousand years from now, in an icy wasteland, humanoid C follows the directive of his previous iterations: find enough biomass beneath an endless glacier to regenerate life. An accident surfaces long-forgotten instructions, leading C across the ice to what may be humanity’s last stronghold. While each character’s situation appears bleak, the voices in this powerful tale continually seek something beyond the imperfection of human stewardship, as when John contemplates his complicity: “there’s no crime in being born into a harmful story but surely there’s sin in not trying to escape.” This is an excellent addition to the climate apocalypse subgenre, and the way it grapples with humanity’s dramatic influence on the planet feels fresh and bracing. Agent: Kirby Kim, Janklow & Nesbit. (June)