"Underground is the book half the country has been waiting for.
"Think ahead five years or so from now, to an Australia transformed by the never-ending war on terror. Canberra has been wiped out in a nuclear attack. There is a permanent state of emergency. Security check-points, citizenship tests, identity cards and detention without trial have all become the norm. Suspect minorities have been locked away into ghettos. And worse -- no one wants to play cricket with us anymore.
"Enter Leo James -- burnt-out property developer and black-sheep twin brother of all powerful Bernard James, Prime Minister of Australia. In an event all too typical of the times, Leo finds himself abducted by terrorists. But this won't be your average kidnapping. Instead, vast and secret forces are at work here, and Leo and his captors are about to emabrk on a journey into the underworld of a nation gone mad.
"Like some bastard child of "Dr Strangelove" and George Orwell, Underground is both an adrenalin-pumped thriller and a gleefully barned satire that takes a chainsaw to political neo-correctness and Australia's new ultra-nationalism. Blistering and blackly comic, this book goes straight to the heart of the country's future -- and it isn't pretty."
Its name was Yusuf.
Probably a joke by someone in the Department of Meteorology. Or maybe that's just official policy now. A state of emergency decree by the government. If something looks big and dangerous, then find a means to link it to Islam.
Either way, it was surely the biggest cyclone to hit that part of the Queensland coast in decades -- a great-grandaddy of a tropical storm. Category five. Winds gusting over two hundred and ninety k; walls of horizontal rain, like Allah himself was pissing in your face; and a storm surge that had lifted the Pacific Ocean by twenty murderous feet or more.
I was right there in the middle of it all. Six storeys up, my belly on the tiles and one arm wrapped around the balcony railing, hanging on for dear life as I peered over the edge, nearly deafened by the unearthly shriek of the wind. My face stinging. My slotted eyes agonised. The rest of me drenched. With a whiskey glass clutched in my free hand, holding more sea water now than alcohol.
From the Allen and Unwin paperback edition, 2006.
This page and its contents are copyright © 2006 by Perry Middlemiss, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.Return to Andrew McGahan page.
Last modified: November 4, 2006.