I’m very happy to welcome Emma Pass to the blog today! Emma is the author of ACID which is out in the UK and Spain now and will be out in the US in 2014. ACID is one of my all time favourite books and I can’t stop recommending it. Today Emma is here to talk about the settings in ACID.
2113. In Jenna Strong’s world, ACID – the most brutal, controlling police force in history – rule supreme. No throwaway comment or muttered dissent goes unnoticed – or unpunished. And it was ACID agents who locked Jenna away for life, for a bloody crime she struggles to remember.
The only female inmate in a violent high-security prison, Jenna has learned to survive by any means necessary. And when a mysterious rebel group breaks her out, she must use her strength, speed and skill to stay one step ahead of ACID – and to uncover the truth about what really happened on that dark night two years ago.
It’s the UK, Jim, but not as we know it!
Deciding to set ACID in the UK was a no-brainer for me. I was born here, and have lived here all my life. Although the majority of dystopian novels around at the moment are set in the US, I wanted to explore what life might be like under a totalitarian regime right here in The UK (known in ACID as the Independent Republic of Britain or IRB). Here are just a few of the places in the novel…
The London of 2113 is a very different place to the London of 2013. Although it is still the IRB’s capital city, it has been divided into three zones – Upper, Middle and Outer.
If you’ve been chosen to live in Upper, you’re one of the lucky ones. ACID (AKA the Agency for Crime Investigation and Defence, the sinister police force who rule the IRB) decide everything about everyone’s lives: where you live, where you work, even who you marry. But even though they have to live by ACID’s rules just like everyone else, the occupants of Upper are the IRB’s elite, living in luxurious apartments with an unlimited supply of food and entertainment. They have the best jobs, the best clothes, the latest technology and the highest standard of education. They can drive cars and travel freely.
The inhabitants of Middle London, which is separated from Upper by an invisible electric fence to stop anyone trying to get through without permission, have a lower standard of living. Although comfortable, they aren’t afforded the luxuries people in Upper take for granted. Their houses are smaller and facilities more basic. They aren’t allowed cars, so they use the Magtrams – Maglev trams which are now the only form of public transport in London.
In Outer, which is separated from Middle by the Fence, a giant steel wall, life is tough. Here, food is rationed and often, all that’s available is Sub – Substitute food, made from synthetic protein in a lab. Outer’s citizens are more tightly controlled than in Middle or Upper, too – they have to keep to a curfew and are required to watch their news screens, a screen in every dwelling constantly broadcasting ACID reports, for several hours a day, or risk arrest. Crime is rife, despite ACID’s constant observation, and poverty is widespread. The buildings are run down and overcrowded.
A giant ‘super-prison’, built to house thousands of prisoners. If you Google ‘American Supermax prison’ you’ll get an idea of what this place is like… only, it’s worse. Mileway is where ACID’s heroine, Jenna Strong, is sent after being accused by ACID of her parents’ murder, and as the only female inmate, she has to toughen up fast.
Clearford and Clearford Library
Outside London, life is even harder. The capital has been made into a ‘model’ city while the rest of the country has been allowed to fall into poverty and disrepair. Clearford is an fictional town, but is typical of the sort of places that exist outside London in 2113. On every corner is a news screen, spewing ACID propaganda, while spotters – remote, mobile cameras – keep watch over everything and everybody.
Clearford has the last library left in the whole of the IRB, although libraries have all been shut down so ACID can control what people read (via eFics, a type of ebook). It shouldn’t be there at all, but money ran out before the town council could demolish it. Jenna stumbles across it when she’s on the run from ACID, and soon discovers it isn’t as empty as it first appears…
About Emma Pass
Emma Pass has been making up stories for as long as she can remember. Her debut novel, ACID, is out now from Corgi/Random House, and THE FEARLESS will follow on 3rd April 2014. By day, she works as a library assistant and lives with her husband and dog in the North East Midlands.