The Underground series is not set in some "post-apocalyptic" world, but in an environment which all known life now exists below the earth's surface. Humans were driven underground by "The Terror," which came when Journalism died. Once Journalism stopped worshipping its one rightful god ... TRUTH ... it vanished. And, without any reliable source of truth, humans ran amok and made "Outside" uninhabitable (child abuse, war, genocide, tribalism ... all out of control).
In "Underground," the "Book Boys" (who have no gender, race, creed, or color) are the Last Journalists. They write their "news" on the walls, in the special shade of blue the Rulers of Underground have never been able to duplicate.
Could Journalism really die? Sure! It is dying every day, as reliance on the Internet as "fact" is becoming a pandemic disease. Here's some proof. What follows is the Kirkus Review of "Underground"....
September 1, 1999
EVERYBODY PAYS: Stories
Black Lizard/Vintage (320 pp.)
$13.00 paperback original
Sept. 15, 1999
Nobody's earned the right to more attitude than Vachss, a former social services caseworker and prisoner director whose legal clientele is restricted to children. But his swaggering, strutting novels (Choice of Evil, p. 481, etc.) often seem to revel in the catalogue of unwholesome horrors his macho heroes avenge. Vachss' stripped-down, pumped-up prose shows to better advantage in a good half of these 38 stories, since the unspeakable revelations tend to cut off the heat just as the pot is about to boil over. There's room for some hard-won tenderness, too, in stories like ''Proving It'' (a released convict's not-exactly-romantic reunion) and ''True Colors'' (how far will a gang-banger go for his girl?). The four stories about Cross, the Chicago crew chief who always delivers because he has no higher loyalty than the job at hand, are a suitably tough counterweight, along with the title novella, in which Cross and his crew contract to rescue a young woman from a Latin American prison (think Mission: Impossible with a sideshow cast and a body count through the roof).
Only the ''Underground'' stories, which wallow in the unspeakable details of child-abuse hell, go over the top or, maybe more accurately, under the bottom.
So what's the problem ... another "mixed" review? No. The "problem" is that the "Underground" stories never even MENTION the "unspeakable details of child abuse hell." The "reviewer" apparently never read them. But far more people will read the Kirkus review than will ever read the actual "Underground" stories. And, as the "facts" about "Underground" are passed from person to person (who can cite: "I saw it on the Internet" ... since Amazon now carries the Kirkus reviews ... as if God had spoken from on high), the truth vanishes.
See how a prophetic book becomes the prophecy?