Red Lakes

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Red Lakes

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Book Description:

No greatness was ever borne without pain… A nuclear holocaust has devastated humanity. Out of the ashes rises a new totalitarian Soviet state that bears a chilling resemblance to a major fast food chain. Everyone eats burgers and the savior of the state-approved religion has red hair, white skin, and enormous feet. Sergei, a meat farmer in the Ukraine, learns that he is actually a clone of the State’s founder and destined to become its Premier. The secret police whisk him away to Moscow where he is prepared for absolute power. Sergei is kidnapped by a group of terrorists who are bent on overthrowing the State. They open Sergei’s eyes to the atrocities meted out by the State on its people: torture, human cloning, and dietary oppression. Sergei escapes his captors and returns to Moscow but to what end? Does he assume the Premiership or follow the terrorists in their desperate struggle?


Joshua Harding’s Red Lakes depicts our world set in the future, after a nuclear war has devastated humanity. Set in what was once Russia and Ukraine, the NSSR (New Soviet Socialist Republic) maintains absolute power over its citizens by controlling what they eat. The people are kept fat, lethargic, and ill by feeding them only foods from the approved “Holy Menu” as conveyed by the Savior Rahnuld – burgers, fries, and cola. Reminiscent of Soviet Russia, people inform on each other to Main Authoritative Komitet (MAKs) to keep themselves safe, lest they be the ones tortured for being suspected of consuming vegetables or turning against the regime. There is a black market for fresh vegetables, and the rebels fighting the NSSR are known as Vegeterrorists. The Premier, MigLenin, is a clone of the founder of the state, and the story follows the life of Sergei Aleksandrevich as he discovers he is also an enhanced clone of the founder to be trained as MigLenin’s successor. As he is kidnapped, separated from his pregnant wife, and groomed for his new path in life, he faces the decision to either become the future Premier or join the Vegeterrorists in changing the future.

This novel was a well-written, fascinating read. Red Lakes may be set in the future, but it bears a striking resemblance to the current social and political environment. In a world in which it is easier to find processed junk food than fresh, organic produce, and where the government creates laws around reproduction, Sergei must make a choice: to maintain the status quo, or fight for a better system. Each twist brings the reader deeper into the novel, and pushes the reader to find out what decision Sergei will make. It is not a light, easy read, but it is brilliantly written and hard to put down.

Originally critiqued by the staff of

Joshua Harding


Joshua Harding is a novelist and award-winning short story writer. His fiction is featured on Writer’s Digest, QuarterReads, and Acidic Fiction. He’s been a nuclear missile mechanic, an environmental lobbyist, a cemetery restorer, freelance artist, puppet master, set designer, actor, carpenter, mortuary officer, garbage man, you name it. The only thing he’s done longer than any of them is write. He lives in a four-person artists’ colony in the woods north of Chicago.

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