Wixon’s Day: accepting responsibility in a leaderless world

wixon's day post apocalyptic canal journey

Title: Wixon’s Day
Author: Phil Williams
Year published: 2012
Genre: Post-apocalypse (far) / Dystopia, action/steampunk.
Threat: Unknown; lack of heat and sunlight cause lasting problems.
Two words: Canal warrior.







Wixon’s Day is a slow-paced saga rife with philosophical musing, in a grimly realised bleak setting. Far in the future, the cause of the world’s current state is unknown; in fact, very little about the world’s history is known. This makes for a brooding drama where survival is the first order of business, and questions of morality, power and progress are very much ignored. By removing the sense of history and purpose from characters who are drawn into vast wars, it raises questions about exactly what everyone is fighting for, and what it takes to motivate someone to make a difference.

What it’s all about

In Estalia, people struggle to survive, day to day, in a world without sunlight, ruled by seemingly unmanaged military groups. The question of who is really in control never really figures in their minds, and the protagonist is as ignorant as the rest of the dystopia. Though he preaches vividly about experiencing new and interesting things, he doesn’t care for politics, until a couple of escaped convicts open his eyes to an ongoing struggle around him.

Marquos, makes a living drifting along the canals from one place to another, scavenging for things to trade. He longs for a purpose, but lacks the disposition to acquire one. At the novel’s outset, he knows only one thing for sure: what the Guards were doing in the Mines was wrong, and he is determined to return a kidnapped child to her parents.

Travelling to the barbaric Deadland of the North, however, he is increasingly faced by the truth of a war around him. It is not just him who disagrees with the Guards’ methods, and like it or not he’s going to have a far bigger role to play in resisting them than he ever imagined.

Why read it

Though drifting through a different, wasteland world, Marquos represents an idle lack of purpose that can be universally recognised. He knows what is right and wrong, and what needs changing in the world, yet he knowingly avoids getting involved. He talks tough, and acts tough, but only fights when it is unavoidable. Marquos is a deep character with all the inconsistencies of a real young man. He may be destined to become a hero, but it won’t come at as easily as calling him to fight; the novel effetively depicts the changing mindset of someone resistant to responsibility in a world that desperately needs responsible people.

Wixon’s Day also offers a deeply visual and arresting atmosphere in the dreary world of Estalia. It combines elements of post-apocalyptic survival with dystopian society politics, all accented by the madcap machinery that has evolved from the scavenging past which give it a heavy steampunk leaning. And though it starts slow, as Marquos ambles through life, when things turn sour, the pace builds dramatically to an explosive climax.


One comment

  1. […] machines in Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World. The gyrocopter makes an appearance in my novel Wixon’s Day, where it informs the nature of the story’s central characters. The gyro captain in […]

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