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The Million: 10/09/18
The Million by Karl Schroeder is a novella length mystery set in a far future Earth. The world is maintained by elite caretaker families while the majority of the population sleeps like cicadas in specially built chambers. These elite number one million. They are ruled by the Hundred, and even more privileged and smaller minority.
Gavin Penn-of-Chaffee lives with his adopted father and brother. He's not supposed to be there. He's not one of the Million. He's a visitor, someone who awoke when he wasn't supposed to, and is living on Earth in real time instead of the one month for every thirty years like the majority of Earth's population.
Given the description of mountains, grasslands, and bison, I'm going to imagine that the Chaffee lands are in Colorado and the house near or in present day Chaffee county.
When tragedy strikes Gavin is forced into an impossible situation. He has to pretend to be a member of a different family. And to do this, he has to attend school in Venice. His goal is to prove his brother's innocence.
In terms of the road narrative project, The Million sits fairly high up on the spectrum at a CCFFFF. It's the story of siblings (albeit through adoption) who are living in uhoria and may well become separated further in time by way of the cornfield. I know that sounds far fetched beyond the siblings which is self explanatory.
The uhoria here is twofold. First and foremost as the narrative opens, Schroeder presents a future earth. It's far enough ahead that technology has improved enough for mass hibernation to be possible. But there's a secondary uhoria, the fact that ten billion of the people sleep for thirty years a time, meaning that a year's worth of living takes them three hundred sixty years, or roughly ten generations of the Million.
So the cornfield. The cornfield here is Venice. It is a city on water. It is a tkaronto, which is typical for a Canadian road narrative. Both cornfields and tkarontos can be entry points to the underworld. As Venice houses one of the underground cicada fortresses which are stand-ins for the underworld in that most of the world's population is essentially "dead" for most of the lifetime of Million. Criminals are sentenced to joining the sleeping population because it will keep them out of the way for the remainder of the current Million's watch.
Gavin, is facing the reality that he and his brother will be separated. His brother will be sentenced to the life that he once had. As I've shown with other narratives where siblings are separated (or killed), the surviving sibling receives the power of orphan magic. He essentially returns to his status as an orphan but now gains the privilege of the Million.