About the book:
In the not-so-distant future, resources are scarce and land is disappearing. This global crisis has created the largest population migration in history as desperate people look for new homes. Meanwhile, powerful governments close their doors, hiring a ruthless organization called HighTower to lock down the borders. HighTower secretly develops a weaponized gene drive enzyme with the potential to eliminate entire migrant populations—a callous form of “pest control”.
On a remote island in the Pacific Northwest, a young woman discovers a shipwrecked scientist. With help from her friends, she rescues him—only to learn that he is a fugitive with a deadly secret. Pursued by dangerous agents, they set out to expose the governments’ plot and destroy the enzyme before it can be used against innocent people.
A story for our times, Sea of a Thousand Words begs the question, “Who deserves to inherit our earth?”
Every page is charged with brilliant imagery and a rich cast of characters—instantly alive and relatable.
What the Critics Say
Part imaginative dystopian future, part environmental warning, Wallace’s new book is fitting for a climate in which The Handmaid’s Tale and 1984 have regained public prominence. Sea of a Thousand Words pulls off the best trick in imaginative fiction — so creative you couldn’t think of it yourself, yet so plausible that it feels a moment away.”
–Third Place Books, Seattle WA.
“There is a very interesting premise at the heart of this piece, one that seems on par within current industry trends by approaching the subject of immigration through the futuristic lens of climate change and the effects of a world-wide crisis. Set in the very near future, the world’s rapidly changing climate has resulted in one of the largest earthquakes in history, altering the Pacific Northwest coastline and dramatically increasing the numbers of climate refugees pouring into the U.S. and Canada. As a result, HighTower Security is hired to enforce strict border regulations and eventually their leaders go down a dark road and make plans to release a weaponized enzyme into concentrated refugee populations and eliminate the problem once and for all, unless our heroine (Dot) is able to stop them in time. Considering the originality of the premise and the fact that the subject matter is incredibly relevant to today’s issues and sensitivities, this is a very strong candidate for adaptation. The writing style too felt very well-defined with vivid, cinematic strokes in the exposition, the story is fresh and timely in its design and the themes it projects, which adds weight to its adaptation potential.”
“Book Pipeline” Book-to-script adaptation: [4/12/2017]
An excerpt from the novel:
North Pacific. Jun 31. 2033
Tryoshnikov plowed through the Gulf of Alaska, her bow disappearing between crests of twenty-foot swells. The trawler shook and creaked with every breaker that launched over the bulwarks. Within her pockmarked hull, crewmembers went about their duties and battened down any items that threatened to become projectiles. The captain and ship’s cook stood behind the helm as green water swept over the deck—cigarettes dangling between their lips; chuckling occasionally when spray reached the wheelhouse windows. Square sodium lights from the rig illuminated the mayhem in a sickly yellow glow.
In the bilges far below the wheelhouse, a dozen passengers huddled together in the cavernous gloom, an overhead light that swung from cobbled-together power cords cast eerie shadows across their faces. The furor surrounding them prompted cries and renewed bouts of nausea with each storm wracked blow. As the ship pitched, the bulb swung erratically and threatened to engulf the frightened group into darkness. Frantic whispers accompanied the hum of the ship’s engine as the flickering intensified.
Shortly after midnight, Tryoshnikov’s engine ceased and in its absence an ominous quiet settled throughout her decks. Three blasts of the ship’s horn were met with the sound of a distant bell. The occupants heard footsteps echo along the passageway as a crewmember swung the watertight hatch open; a metallic clang reverberated throughout Tryoshnikov’s bowels. The crewmember aimed a flashlight at the alarmed faces, shouting, “Vse. Vremya, chtoby ostant. Ubiraysya! Go—you must go now!”
A forceful wall of sea spray doused the passengers as they clambered on deck. One of the crew heaved a Jacob’s ladder over the rails, sending it plummeting toward the raging water. Several of the terrified faction leaned outboard to see what awaited them: a smaller vessel lay alongside, greasy decks strewn with disheveled coils of hemp and crabpots. The lone man on the boat shouted and waved up at them, urging them to hurry. Tryoshnikov’s crew pointed at those assembled, gesturing that they should leave over the side, propelling them forward with shoves and brusque orders. “Siyu zhe minute! Toropit’sya!”
The wind howled and whipped the ladder, twisting its braided rungs into a furious helix. The first of the passengers hesitantly stepped forward and with a furtive glance over his shoulder, descended. The smaller boat bounced about, ramming Tryoshnikov with every giant swell. Hugging the ropes tightly, the man climbed downward. A sudden surge of water shot from between the two hulls like a geyser, repelling the ships away from one another. The wave’s vacuum grabbed at the man’s feet, sucking him underneath the surface. As the vessels smashed back into each other, the boat’s captain looked over the railing, then called back up to the ship, “It’s no good—he’s gone! It’s now or never. C’mon, get ‘em moving!”
The Russians pushed the terrified group forward. One by one, men and women climbed or fell onto the deck of the boat below. Tryoshnikov’s revving engine could now be heard over the din of the storm. The last passenger in line hesitated at the railing. He clutched a leather satchel tightly to his chest. The deckhand beside him tried to pry the case out of his hands. “Ubiraysya!”
The man pushed him aside and, clinging to his possession, swung his legs over the bulwarks. He negotiated the swaying ladder, one hand on the rope, the other holding his briefcase. At last, with only two rungs remaining, he lowered his foot toward the rails of the waiting vessel. Another giant swell crashed into the side of the boat and the two hulls collided, pinning him between them. The man wailed in agony, lost his grip and fell backwards onto the deck. The captain muttered under his breath and stepped over him, shouting to the crew, “Is that it?”
The deckhand cupped his hands around his mouth and yelled, “Da. Eto vse.”
The captain waved off Tryoshnikov and returned to his wheelhouse, slamming the door behind him. The passengers cowered in the storm as he throttled his engine and powered away from the steel hull.
Gale winds whirled around the deckhouse bulkhead as the boat motored toward an unseen coastline. The injured man remained alone on the deck where he’d fallen, still clutching the leather case. His agonizing moans eventually subsided, replaced by sharp intakes of breath as the boat pitched back and forth. He stared unblinking into the night sky as the rain pelted down upon his face.