Welcome to the future: The Ark by Annabel Smith

Only bad news Etienne. I’ve been in touch with practically everyone I’ve ever met and from Tasmania to Broome the reports are all the same – the slightest signs of non-compliance are being met with the utmost ruthlessness by the CCC. There’s been no detainment. Anyone desperate enough to venture into the streets for food or fuel has been fired upon. Yesterday Carey announced via email that the Chaos had been “contained”. But at what cost? We found your QuietExit kits in the Safe Room. I’ve been thinking about taking my dose. There’s no coming back from the place we’ve arrived at.

date > 17-06-2041 sub > QuietExit

Tillie, you mustn’t. Don’t give up. You’re safe there. You have everything you need. There is food, water, medicine, vitz – enough for a year or more. You just have to ride it out. Please.

date > 18-06-2041 sub > Re: Quiet Exit

theark-annabelsmithIt’s hard to know what to say about this novel. Firstly, everyone is talking about it. And so they should. Independent, multimedia, multiplatform, it’s most certainly something new. It simultaneously paints a glimpse of a very convincing future for humanity while also unveiling the future of the ebook. Resource shortages and social breakdown until the day the Earth’s servers all, finally, blink off – rendered in a new, digital imagining of literature. This is the future; wake up and smell the data.

Told through emails, blog posts, and recorded conversations, it is the story of The Ark, a seed bunker that goes into lockdown containing its workers, scientists and their families as the outside world descends into what is just described as the Chaos. However, isolating a tiny community of 26 has its inevitable problems, and as the ulterior motives of The Ark’s leader are discovered the social fabric starts to wear thin. Meanwhile the situation outside gradually grows worse.

KAOS KRONIKLES the kidz dont stand a chance

ript 24 APRIL 2041

Argh bein undergroundz gettin 2 me already. I mean is it jus me or is any1 else feelin kinda ript? Like the future… wotz that? Im 15 Im not ready 2 die. But right now the chance of me even finishin high school is lookin kinda microscopic. I know Ive got it sweeter than most. But even if a few so-called lucky ones make it thru the next decade wotz the point anyway? Planetz gonna b sum toxic waste dump.

Srsly could our parents hav fukt things up any mo thorough?

Posted by r0sk0

The novel contains additional information via The Ark app – where you can find maps of the Ark and a whole heap of background on the Chaos and the technology mentioned in the novel. I bought this on Kindle, but I think it’s one book that would work better on iPad, so you could easily access the extra layer. I also found the formatting hard to follow, I don’t know if the iPad version would be better. The app is certainly beautifully designed. I’d love to hear from someone who’s read it in another format.

The drawbacks: while you can enjoy it without a device it does add something to the experience which might pose accessibility questions. I wish the story had gone deeper, it seemed to end abruptly (but perhaps this really is the way the world ends, when the internet switches off?) and having read most of it on a plane over the Pacific, and foolishly not thinking ahead, I couldn’t access the additional content until much later. If there’s an app in the forest but no-one has wifi…. But given Smith went to the trouble to create an app, there seems to be so much potential that wasn’t explored here.

Plenty of people might be irritated by all of this. Perhaps I’ve been living under a rock but this is the first time I’ve seen an author embrace digital content in this way, which in itself should earn Smith accolades. I’m inspired by both the content and the execution, after all dystopias and digital content are my bag baby. To my mind Smith deserves every reader and every gushing review she gets.

The Ark, Annabel Smith: 4 and a half stars. (Buy it direct from the website.)

Read it on: tablet, or ereader. Not on a plane.

About Rachel Watts

I am a writer from Perth, Western Australia. My speculative fiction novella Survival will be released in early 2018. View all posts by Rachel Watts

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