VEHICLE by Jen Calleja
112 x 178mm, 356 pages, Black & white printing, Perfect bound, Softcover, 2023
In a time when looking into the past has become a socially unacceptable and illegal act in the Nation, a group of scholars are offered an attractive residency to allow them to pursue their projects. When the residency transpires to be a devastating trick, these Researchers go on the run, and soon discover that their projects all relate to one major event: the Isletese Disaster – the decline and subsequent devastation fifty years earlier of a long-forgotten roaming archipelago called The Islets.
One figure emerges as central to all of their work: Hester Heller, a reformed cult musiker turned student recruited from the Institute for Transmission as an agent of the state and tasked with gathering reconnaissance on the Disaster by using her old band Vehicle as a cover. Heller is the key to the Researchers collective story, which they try to piece together while evading their pursuers.
Compiled from the Researchers’ disparate documentation, recollections, and even their imaginations, Vehicle is a metafictional work of literary speculative fiction, and a timely and daring exploration of xenophobia, exploitation, the writing of histories and legacies, and the politics of translation.