I would like to take this opportunity to thank Hans and Amberr, for letting us be a part of this blog tour and providing us with a review copy for this wonderful book. I’m really glad that we can be part in spreading the word about a book as hopeful and optimistic in a time where we hear about wars and conflicts every day. Hopefully, many of you will give this book a try and enjoy the guestpost, review, excerpt, trailer, music playlist and the opportunities to win one of ten $15 vouchers for the author’s shop or a ticket to GRL!!! Giveaway details below 😉 Good Luck!
Willem of the Tafel by
Hans M. Hirschi
Beaten Track Publishing
Genres: Adventure, Fantasy, LGBT, Post-Dystopian, Young Adult
Release Date: May 28, 2015
The world we know is gone, destroyed by greed and ignorance. On a post-apocalyptic Earth, centuries into the future, few have survived the Great War. Some have taken refuge deep inside a mountain. One of them, Willem, is exiled to the surface… Alone and struggling to survive, Willem embarks on an epic journey, making a discovery that could once again alter the future of humanity. Willem of the Tafel is an epic tale of survival, second chances, hope and undying love.
Check out the trailer for Willem of the Tafel
Atomic War and the Consequences by Hans M Hirschi
We just finished watching “Jericho” on Netflix, a two season show that first aired back in 2006. It deals with a domestic terrorist attack on US soil, wrecking thirteen cities across the country, crippling the nation.
Normally, we don’t think much about nuclear war any more, which is very different from my youth. Back in the eighties, the threat of nuclear war was omnipresent and at the height of the cold war, in the first half of the decade, before Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev met for the first time, the famous clock of world security was set to one minute to twelve. We were in big trouble. Now luckily, nothing happened, but let’s not forget that the nations who possess nuclear weapons still have the potential to wreak a lot of havoc on the planet. And more nations have been added to the list of nuclear power since the eighties: Israel, Pakistan, India & North Korea, and at least two of those states will not be able to guarantee full control over their weapons, and quite frankly, I’m not sure the Russians can either.
I had a discussion the other day on the impact of nuclear war, as it is described in my novel, and there is of course no “answer” to be had. We don’t know just what happens to an all out nuclear war, but we certainly cannot compare it to e.g. Hiroshima or Nagasaki, even though those bombs were awful enough. But look instead at the fallout after Chernobyl or Fukushima, where people will not be able to return for hundreds, even thousands of years. The mere thought that weapons could be detonated by the thousands, at the development stage we’ll be at a hundred years from now is pretty scary. One thing scientists are fairly certain about is that is could very well be the end of humanity. My take on it isn’t quite as grim. In Willem of the Tafel, humanity survives, but must start again. Nuclear war is always possible, unlikely, but we need to make sure we don’t let things escalate too much. Current crisis in Europe and the Middle East could easily catch fire and blow up in our faces…
I love this cover. As far as I know, it’s the first time the author has a human model on the book, but it is in combination with a spectacle of nature that shows how majestic our beautiful world is and sun that shines like hope through the clouds. I think the young man on the cover stands in for humanity and makes it easier to imagine the main character.
‘Willem of the Tafel’ references the well-known Tafel mountain that can also be seen on the cover. I must admit, the title didn’t particularly draw me to the book. I was mildly curious about who Willem was, but it was only when I also saw the beautiful cover that gave me an image for Willem and the Tafel and when I read the blurb that I truly NEEDED to read this book. I’m a sucker for post-apocalyptic and dystopian stories and was very curious how Hans would write such a story.
I was given an early review copy for this book by the author, even before joining this tour. I promised the author to read this book in exchange for an honest review, but told him it would probably take me quite a while to get to it as I was very busy and catching up on work. I was curious, though, and I chose to take my kindle and read a few chapters at night before going to sleep. That never happened. The sleeping that is. I had read the complete book by the next morning and I think that is a big testament to the author and this book.
In the book, we have different societies that survived the nuclear world war that killed most of the population and made most parts of the world uninhabitable. It was very interesting to compare them to each other and to our own society.
The causes of the war that ended the world as we know it right now (in the book), are frighteningly similar to many current real life issues we have failed to solve. It makes me sad how likely the eventual outcome of a destructive war seems when we consider how climate change, over-population and dwindling natural resources develop in our world. If we add in powerhungry politicians with the power to use weapons of mass-destruction and the devastating long-term effects of nuclear weapons on humans, animals and nature the set-up of this novel unfortunately does not seem as far-fetched as I would like.
Willem is a ‘Ghost’, one of the few remaining white citizens of a society that has survived through science and technology beneath the Tafel mountain in South Africa. Ghosts are in the racial minority and seperated in the breeding programme to keep the black citizens called ‘Shades’ pure of the ghost’s ‘inferior’ genetic material.
It never matters who discriminates against whom for me, it is always difficult to read. It made me sad to realize that problems like racisim probably are ingrained in human nature.
For me, the people of the Tafel clearly live in a dystopian society. They don’t remember what love is as they have devoted all their efforts to their ‘breeding’ programs and the survival of their people. It helped them to survive – it is a great feat for them to have done what they did. However, the racism among the people, the loss of justice and increase in power-hungry individuals, who would rather sacrifice the well-being of the people than let positive change in, made me glad that I didn’t live in that world.
Until I realized that we struggle with all those issues in our real world as well. In some countries more than in others, but there is no perfect sytem out there. 😦
When we meet Willem, he is a hard-working young man, seems very sympathetic, but just through the color of his skin people discriminate against him and make his life much harder. Whether it’s the childhood bully he grew up with or the powerful politician who tries to infect others with the hatred against ghosts in his heart, the odds are stacked against him. When an accident happens and puts WIllem’s fate in the hands of an unfair and unbalanced trial, his fate is sealed.
Not that the people of the Tafel would ever condone something as uncivilized as capital punishment. This again made me compare our current situation to the dystopian society. I can’t understand how capital punishment can still be allowed in some countries. It is more expensive than life-long imprisonment and has cost the lives of innocent people. In the current prison system, many countries punish those who are poor, were born in bad circumstances and are so addicted they would do anything for another fix. Prisons are now overfilling with mostly non-violent offenders, which is more costly than to invest money in rehabitational programs. As a result, instead of learning from their mistakes, offenders leave prison as better criminals, having learned much during their stay and have a high likelyhood of being return offenders.
Much like for Willem, race unfortunately holds a lot of sway on the outcome of any trial. He is innocent of any wrong doing, but even in clear absence of any substantial evidence that the accident was more than that, he is judged guilty and given the most severe punishment. They might not condon capital punisment in word, but banishing a young man to the outside of the mountain for 10 years, which they believe is still radioactive, comes pretty, damn close. It’s the same, they just can keep their hands clean of blood.
It was deeply troubling for me to see how close our current situation in the world is to the society I clearly identified as dystopian. …
Thankfully, though, this is just the beginning of the book and what follows is more optimistic and hopeful than I ever would have thought. There are survivors on the outside as well and they have formed a government that is clearly more fair and peaceful. No racism, no power hunger, a completely new system that seems to be a beautiful utopian ideal.
I know the author doesn’t believe in ‘Fate’, but the word sounds right to me for this story. Willem has just the knowledge that he needs to survive and even acclimated himself to UV light before direct exposure to the sun by chance. He is very intelligent, hard-working, trust-worthy, instantly connects with the one person in the best position to ensure his acceptance and finds friends who will always have his back.
Through who he is and what he does, he has the potential to become a bridge between his people and the new government. But his people discriminated against him, are lead by a hateful and powerhungry man and use technology that the people of the outside world have long seen as a sorce of the evil people have committed in the past.
It’s certainly not an easy task before him and there are many uncertainties in front of him, yet I still had to suspend my disbelief and bury my cynicism to really enjoy this story. It just seems too good to be true, even if the world had to end first. With all the problems and difficulties, it still seems far too easy to change not only the world, but the heart of every single person. I think that sin is part of humanity and while I wished we could change in such an essential way as the novel suggests, I don’t belief it is possible. However, I firmly believe that we don’t just need reminders of where we wil go wrong if we continue our path, but also reminders of how the world could look like, if we change our ways. Even if it won’t be pssible to achieve such an Utopian ideal, it is a great goal to strive towards.
In a time where we are so unsure about the future, this story is not only a cautionary tale, but also shows us how wonderful our world could be if we took more care for nature and each other. It is a beautiful message and I loved the author’s Utopian vision, even while doubting that it can ever be made into a reality.
I can strongly recommend to check this story out and become infected by the hope and optimism we all need so desperately in times like this. Even if you don’t usually read sci-fi stories or dystopian or post-apocalyptic stories – this is essentially a humanitarian story of adventure and hope for a better future. I sincerely think it can be appreciated by a wide readership and hope the message in these pages can inspire others.
I was never more shocked than reading this book, after previously reading the author’s ‘The Angels of Karnataka’, which was a well-written story about love, loss, some beautiful moments that highlight the beauty of different parts of the world, but was also the darkest book I ever read. It gave readers a glimpse of what humans are capable of. The pitch-black side of humanity. While I don’t think I could ever read that book again, as it really took much out of me and shook me up, even though the author took his time to lead readers back into a more positive place again, I think Hans’ newest book might fast develop into a comfort read.
If the previous book showed the potential of humans to become monsters and for their souls to be overcome by darkness greater than I ever wanted to consider, ‘Willem of the Tafel’ shows the potential the author sees in humanity to learn from past mistakes and become better. It shows how a world would look if every human would embrace their ability to love, forgive, make friends, be truthful, work together, be peaceful.
It was exactly what I needed. Thank you, Hans. ❤
9/10 pots of gold (90% recommended) – compares to 4.5/5 stars
“Tafel society was dying, slowly. Bongani knew this, and he understood that with their demise, the entire human race would face extinction. They faced so many challenges: all water had to be filtered to make sure it wasn’t contaminated, caves sometimes collapsed and there was always the struggle for food. Energy was scarce but, thanks to geothermal energy that had replaced an ancient nuclear reactor, they had been able to keep going; they were able to simulate sunlight for their crops. Only a few people worked the fields and even they spent most of their days outside of the light. They had become accustomed to wearing protective gear and shades to protect themselves from the light in the food caverns. Their bodies couldn’t withstand too much exposure when there wasn’t enough energy to light up the entire complex.
Their numbers were dwindling. Whether it was due to inbreeding, genetic changes due to the environment or just bad luck, Tafel women didn’t give birth to enough children to sustain their population. Over the past fifteen decades, rigorous rules had been put in place to ensure every woman had as many births as possible without risking her life, and with as[…]”
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Hans M Hirschi (b. 1967) has been writing stories ever since he was a child. Adulthood and the demands of corporate life efficiently put an end to his fictional writing for over twenty years.
A global executive in training and channel development, Hans has traveled the world and had previously published non-fictional titles.
The birth of his son and the subsequent parental leave provided him with the opportunity to unleash his creative writing once again. With little influence over his brain’s creative workings, he indulges it, going with the flow.
A deeply rooted passion for, faith in a better world, in love, tolerance and diversity are a red thread throughout both his creative and non-fictional work. His novels might best be described as “literary romance, engaging characters and relevant stories that won’t leave you untouched, but hopeful.”
Hans is a proud member of the Swedish Writers’ Union and the Writers’ Center in Sweden.
The giveaway for Willem of the Tafel has 11 randomly chosen winners; 10 will receive $15 Gift codes to the author’s shop, but the grand prize winner will receive a free ticket to GayRomLit retreat 2015, in San Diego, CA, happening October 15-18th, 2015. Ticket value is $175, but if you win the grand prize, you’re responsible for travel and accommodations. Please notify the author in advance should you win and be unable to attend, so we can choose another recipient to enjoy the prize!
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