Shortlisted for the 2018 Wales Book of the Year Award | Shortlisted for the 2018 Betty Trask Award
Cassandra Fish cleans her bright-orange spacesuit. She must be ready when the window of lunar transfer opens for her parents, whom she has never known, to come to fetch her home to the distant planet which she is sure is her real home. But she still has time for a night out with her old school friends, Billy and Fox, in their decaying post-industrial town on the Welsh borders. Plagued by huge predatory insects which emerge from the nearby forest, and corrupted by GOTE, the local drug of choice, which slowly kills its addicts, the inhabitants of Goregree struggle to survive, in dead-end jobs or harried by the benefits system into shifts at the euthanasia clinic. The background to their lives in this disadvantaged and disempowered society, gradually emerge as we follow the three friends from bar to club and on to the beckoning, dangerous forest.
Set in a dystopian, not-too distant future, this extraordinary novel takes the traditional south Wales novel of urban decay into completely new territory. Lloyd Markham, in this remarkable début, brings his flawed characters to life with warmth and delicacy. Beautifully crafted and written, from its very first page the novel draws the reader into a bizarre but strangely believable world.
Bad Ideas\Chemicals isn't afraid to discuss the topics that society seems to avoid. Markham addresses a variation of themes that are particularly relevant to young people, ranging from drugs to sexuality, by combining humour with the darkness of a dystopian world. Using features of science fiction, Markham both masks and exposes the flaws in society that we so readily ignore.
The characters have a far-reaching appeal; they may be relatable to young people for their realistic portrayal of what it is to face the impacts of adolescence and young adulthood, but their experiences would surely reflect and resonate with those of any reader. The careful construction of these characters allows them to feel real; they are not crude generalisations and stereotypes, but multifaceted and authentic portrayals of the struggles of young adults in the modern world.'
Sian James, Good Reads
‘Poignant, unnervingly funny and poetic'
‘A unique new voice.’
‘A dark and witty take on small town life.’