Lawrence & Gibson
The book’s four stories take place on the eponymous public-private-partnership island in 2023, where a fifth-term National Government’s (2020 update: kia ora jacinda, kia ora new coalition govt) legacy project is going very well or very poorly, depending on who you ask.
“No more perfect conceit for a dystopian near-future novel has existed in New Zealand”, says Murdoch Stephens, editor at Lawrence & Gibson. “Milk Island is a work of conceptual genius combining dropping our she’ll-be-right haplessness onto a centre-right empire bigger than even Piggy Muldoon could have imagined.”
With the 2023 NZ election approaching on Milk Island, the novel’s four main characters are interwoven into the same sprawling web of prisons, politics, tourism and media. On the former South Island, patriotism and prosperity trumps all else and life matters very little unless you’re Milky Moo, the nation’s favourite genetically-enhanced cow.
The cast of characters includes:
A freelance farming journalist who infiltrates the Press Gallery for a behind-the-scenes tour of New Zealand’s reconstructed South Island.
A new inmate in Christchurch Men’s dairying prison who wails a tale of blood and milk to the interactive avatar of comedian Billy T James.
A private agri-prison operator who juggles two escapees and a political hit, with far too much of her money and pride riding on a prison fight.
A rogue Twitter account who wanders the wilderness of Milk Island, reporting on environmental collapse under accusations of domestic terrorism.
“It is a very serious joke,” says Wellington-based author Rhydian Thomas. “I have spent years of my life on this joke. I hope someone will laugh at it.”