Welcome to Ord City, Adrian Deans
Whatever your expectations of WELCOME TO ORD CITY, like me, you may find them rapidly disappearing into puffs of smoke as this story advances.
Puffs of smoke that got pretty dense at points, this is not a novel for the partially committed reader, it will require concentration as there's a lot of perspective switches, a largish cast of characters, and a hell of a lot going on.
Blurbed as a satirical crime thriller, this is futuristic social commentary where the viewpoint is bleak(ish), the setup uncomfortably believable, and the action and outcomes soberingly possible. There's also a very sly, understated sense of humour that will sneak up on you at times, and there's a not at all subtle dig at many of the standard tropes of thriller fiction.
WELCOME TO ORD CITY is a novel that will most definitely fall into the "your mileage may vary" category. There is so much going on it is possible to be thrown by the number of perspective changes, and at around 425 pages for the ebook, there is an argument that there's a bit of focus loss at points, making parts of the story a slog through the inconsequential until the thriller bits return, but right there, we are in classic "YMMV" territory. Some readers will really love the byways and the side excursions, the personal stuff and the complicated relationships, and others may be constantly hoping to get back to the terrorist plot, and working out what this Shadow Group is all about.
The sense of humour that's at the core of this author's work is the bit that appeals to this particular reader. The little flashes of hilarity in the middle of the tensest moments, the ham-fisted attempts at relationships and the clever development of some of the character's and their collective relationships. It is a book, however, that includes a lot of explicit language and a number of sex scenes, many of which were .... shall we say slightly over the top or sometimes a bit on the ick side. Again, YMMV will vary with these elements, explicit language isn't an issue for this reader, sexual assault on the other hand, I'm not convinced needs to be twisted into anything other than what it is.
Perhaps in the end, the best way to put it is that WELCOME TO ORD CITY isn't for the easily offended. On the other hand if you're looking for a futuristic view that's all too scarily possible, and you're not immune to the idea that no matter how low you think society has sunk, there's a whole new layer waiting to be kicked into the light of day, this is most definitely the novel for you.
All refugees welcome in Australia!
In 2023, Australia reversed its closed border policy and said to the world: ‘Welcome! You are free to come to Australia, but you must spend the first seven years in the Temporary Citizenship Zone around the Ord River.’
Seven years later, Ord City is a teeming Asian metropolis with 2.5 million people preparing for the First Wave – the first tranche of refugees gaining full citizenship – on Australia Day 2030. But mainstream Australia is passionately divided over Ord City, not least because of the risk of letting in terrorists, and dark political forces are bubbling to the surface.
Agent Conan Tooley is sent up to Ord City to look into a routine gangland murder, but finds himself frustrated and confused by the questions that arise at every step.
As the days to the First Wave count down, Conan encounters any number of people throwing up obstacles, including The Army of God (a Christian charity active in Ord City); a carload of young people travelling to Ord City for the Illumination Festival the night before the First Wave; and Asif, a deep cell terrorist with a deadly mission. There is also the Shadow Group – mysterious figures who seem to be pulling strings at high levels to achieve some hidden purpose.
As the various subplots wind towards the explosive conclusion, the motives and values of all are profoundly challenged.
Welcome to Ord City is a satirical crime thriller set against the backdrop of Australia’s refugee policy and the malleable populism that characterises the Lucky Country in the C21.