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The Wakeful Wanderer’s Guide

to New New England & Beyond

by Jim Infantino

The Wakeful Wanderer's Guide to New England and Beyond - Jim Infantino - Wakeful Wanderer's Guide
Part of the The Wakeful Wanderer's Guide series:
Editions:ePub - Third Edition: $ 24.95
ISBN: 978-1-7361563-0-8
Pages: 284

Marto Boxter is an optimistic journalist with a head full of implants. When we meet him, he is planning a ride into the interconnected tribes of the Northeast from his town of Reverside-on-Hudson. He plans to document his ride by posting his thoughts in real-time to his post-human followers. Before he can leave on his tour however, a runaway named Helen arrives with secret information that throws Marto’s placid world into turmoil.

Meanwhile, Barnabas Yoniver IV, the leader of a Luddite town to the south launches a plot to disrupt the life of all upgraded humans and bring them back to the traditional economy of markets and governments. Aware of Yoniver's plans, rival Luddite families scheme to prevent Barnabas from grabbing too much power for himself.


The water was still warm, this late into the fall. Emily waded out into the breaking waves. She had scouted this beach to be sure she could swim without encountering underwater hazards like the remnants of old buildings. The tide was going out. It felt so good to be free of her troublesome life in this god awful town.

She was a strong swimmer. As a teen, she trained relentlessly with her coach, a man named Bobby Takeuchi who won gold in the freestyle during the second to last Olympics. Bobby was old then, but a powerful athlete and a wonderful mentor. Many hours in the pool were spent working on technique. If there had still been an Olympics, Bobby said Emily would have been a natural competitor.


Beginning with an easy breaststroke, she made her way over the tops of the breakers into the rolling ocean. She heard the first of the explosions behind her, knowing it was from the center of the courthouse. Most of her clothes were left on the dock, along with her scant jewelry. No one would look for a body. She was not that important.

Carefully set fires had driven the people out of the targeted structures. There should be few undesired casualties. New Atlantic didn’t have a fire department. Buckets of sand and water were all that were available to those who wanted to put out the flames. Strategic standers-by would have encouraged the people to flee from the smoke. Hopefully, there would be no heroics.

A second boom sounded over the water. That would be the courthouse in the east wing. There would be fires burning all over town soon. People standing in the muddy streets watching their homes fill with smoke. The casinos, the shops, and the church would be fully ablaze before she had made it past the southern point to her right. The ocean was peacefully indifferent. It felt so good to swim again.

Reviews:Dar Williams on wakeful wanderer dot com wrote:

“Like Marge Piercy and Margaret Atwood, Jim shows us an exciting and absorbing future world that is neither zombie-land nor un-relatable utopia. I’m a busy person, but I could not put his book down.”

Kirkus Reviews on Kirkus wrote:

Social media improves a dystopian future (ugh, right?) in this provocative, cyberpunk series.
Debut author Infantino launches his cli-fi series in a post-apocalyptic U.S.
Infantino sets his Wakeful Wanderer series on an Earth devastated by catastrophic climate change. Rising sea levels caused a “Great Tide,” a doomsday event that sent North America into anarchy. The poor and self-righteously angry hunted and killed the wealthy in a murder spree known as “The Vengeance.” Many of those same mobs (and some surviving dynasties) filled the power gap, ruling regions in a feudal style. An exception to the force and brutality is the “Interconnected,” high-tech humans with neural implants that link their minds at all times. Cooperative, altruistic, and empathetic, the Interconnected control sections of America’s Northeastern seaboard, especially from Boston to Tarrytown, although, thanks to their mass consciousness, they rarely need to travel. Uniting the post-apocalyptic communities, in the manner of the vagabond hero of David Brin’s The Postman (1985), is “Wakeful Wanderer” Marto Boxster. A travel blogger of sorts, Marto beams his prose directly to minds of followers as he explores neurolinked and technophobic settlements. An orphan Interconnected who considers his work a return to old-style journalism, he “writes” (and thinks directly to others, an art known as “thexting”) of his travels via motorized unicycle throughout the territories. Countless online/interactive followers learn one another’s cultures and histories through him. But the Interconnected have enemies in the form of lingering Vengeance gangs and jealous Luddite technophobes whose throwback conservative philosophies condemn these new post-humans as “xombie” abominations. Marto, while on the road, discovers discomfiting truths about himself and his origins during a conspiracy to attack the upgraded folk and return the U.S. (or what’s left of it) to “traditional” values of rule by money, violence, and slavery.

Infantino is an established musician, though only late in the narrative does he start dropping album names and song titles. Instead of this being a singer/songwriter’s dreaded side gig, the book is solid speculative fiction about transhumanist and climate issues, though by no means is it the first near-future novel to foresee a society dominated by social media (the term is never used, by the way). Via Marto and other characters, the author ruminates on the Interconnected’s progressive system of political and social economy based on “Merits” (think “likes” brought to its ultimate fulfillment) and paying it forward. The author’s evaluation of this seemingly idyllic, peaceable coexistence among those whose lives are improved by cybertechnology isn’t exactly a full endorsement of better living through science, although the bad guys enact their sinister scheme before the debates with Marto reach any sort of conclusion. Still, it’s fair to say that the Interconnected are a nicer bunch of New Englanders to inherit the Earth than their reactionary rivals. More volumes in the series have been completed, and one looks forward to more of this unsettlingly plausible world.

E.G. Stone on YouTube wrote:

This week's Wednesday Reads book review is the really fascinating The Wakeful Wanderer's Guide: to New New England and Beyond by Jim Infantino.

Random Fact: I sort of want a unicycle, now.

Terry Kitchen on Amazon wrote:

Some genuinely new ideas on society in an absorbing & amusing sci-fi context
Before we even crack the book, let's talk about the title.

The bible of humorous sci-fi also of course contains the word Guide in it. But whereas Douglas Adams takes on the whole galaxy (repeatedly making the point of how insignificant our own blue planet is in the big picture), Jim Infantino's focus is narrower: the U.S., specifically New England, specifically New New England, in the not-too-distant future, when society is reorganizing after global warming and other catastrophes have undercut our current power structures. And like that other Guide, this one has a book-within-a-book, which the main character Marto composes and shares chapter by chapter during his Candide-like travels (in many ways, the best part of Infantino's novel).

The news is not all bad. Large parts of the surviving population have come together in agrarian-based sustainable communities, where transactions are based on merit rather than money. Merit is accrued via having followers and approval on social media, now internalized by implants, making speech itself obsolete. And technology has advanced so that most of the actual labor is done by tiny dedicated robots, thus avoiding the fatal flaw of past communal experiments, where everybody wants to stay up late and argue philosophy, but no one wants to get up at dawn to plant the corn. This social experiment, though, is under attack - the landed families of the past want their power and status back, and, beyond feuding with each other, want to crush and absorb the interconnected communities as slave labor.

Much of the plot involves these balance-of-power chess moves, with each side spying on the other (and Marto himself discovering his own compromised history along the way), and there's a climactic battle and aftermath as the new world sorts itself out. But, for my money, the reason to read the book is because it poses the question, does our society have to be this way, where every transaction has a dollar value, and, if not, how else could it work? Like the best sci-fi, The Wakeful Wanderer's Guide offers some genuinely new ideas to our ancient and ongoing human conversation.

About the Author

Jim Infantino grew up in the Manhattan of the 70s and 80s. He studied Philosophy moved to Boston to become a songwriter and busker. His songs have been featured on NPR’s Weekend Edition and All Things Considered. In 2012, after years of touring with his band, Jim got the inspiration for a story too large to fit into song and began writing his debut novel. He is currently working on the third book in the Wakeful Wanderer’s Guide series, a book of short stories set in the same world, and a science fiction novelette.
When not writing, Jim runs a web design company, plays with his band, writes code, teaches meditation, & reads to his daughters.