Salvage by Robert Edric is a bleak novel about inertia and our inability to cope with environmental disaster.
It is set in the 22nd century; the UK is a barren country blighted by pollution, erratic weather systems and flooding. Livestock have long since been culled due to contagion with farms being converted into landfill sites; the nation is choked by crumbling infrastructure, corruption and red tape.
Quinn, a disillusioned civil servant, is sent to a remote northern town to write a report designed to pave the way for its rapid expansion in order to resettle families fleeing the floods.
He encounters selfish individuals desperate to maintain their own fiefdoms while everything around them is falling apart. Tragedy is personified by a son of the earth crushed by the loss of his family farm and a jobless journalist driven to drink by professional impotency.
Edric depicts a ruined land where politicking reigns supreme. In creating characters reduced by their grubby little compromises, he shines a critical light on contemporary Britain.
In his novel The London Satyr, Robert Edric cleverly couples spirits with strippers to create a vivid Victorian melodrama peppered with subtle psychological observations.
It’s an imaginative plot device as spiritualism and pornography both rely on carefully choreographed staging to exploit basic human desires.
Set in London in the oppressive summer of 1891, the novel’s central character is Webster, a debt-ridden photographer working for Sir Henry Irving and Bram Stoker at the Lyceum theatre. To earn extra cash, Webster supplies costumes to Marlow, a devious pornographer dubbed the “London Satyr”.
When an aristocrat is accused of murdering a child prostitute, the capital is convulsed by the sex scandal and Webster’s reputation is suddenly in danger as his links to a sleazy underworld risk being exposed..
To increase his anxiety, his wife deludes herself into believing she can contact the restless spirit of their dead daughter and starts holding séances in the family home, thereby exploiting the gullibility of her clients as well as, sadly, fooling herself. Her burgeoning career as a sought-after medium brings into sharp focus the grief Webster himself feels for their lost child.