Evan Angler

Evan Angler is safe, for now. He lives without the Mark, evading DOME and writing in the shadows of Beacon. But if anyone asks, you know nothing about him. Don’t make eye contact if you see him. Don’t call his name out loud. He’s in enough trouble already. And so are you, if you read his books.

Evan Angler


We live in a society of haves and have-nots. There are those of us with jobs, and wealth, and influence...and there are those of us without.

It isn’t a rigid structure. Not by design, at least. But it is a structure that exists. And it is one that too easily defines us. As people. As individuals.

In my novel Swipe, I’ve written about this system in the context of the American Union, where passing judgment is easier than ever before; where you are either a person with rights and opportunities, treated with basic fairness and respect, or you are not; and where it all comes down to a simple Mark of citizenship that is either earned--or not.

In a culture that too eagerly idolizes the richest and most powerful among us, it has become easy to ignore those of us have-nots on the other end of the scale--to trivialize and marginalize their status, to label them failures in terms defined by people least able to walk in their shoes, and to generalize their hardship so that we may forget about them. By stripping these people of their individuality, we relieve ourselves of the burden to help, or even of the obligation to care.

But to paraphrase what Leo Tolstoy said in his banned pre-Unity era classic Anna Karenina: Marked people are all alike; every Unmarked person is Unmarked in his own way.

In this column, I’d like to profile a series of Markless individuals living in the American Union. Because their stories are extraordinary. And because we’d do well, as a nation, not to forget them.

Today, I want to take a look at Wallace. You might have read about him in my description of Logan’s visit to Slog Row in Swipe--he was the man Logan fed with the leftovers of his school lunch. But you haven’t yet heard the story of Wallace’s life, so I’d like to tell you a little about it now.

Wallace was born Wallace Gregory Martin, son of James Martin and Leigh Martin. He was raised in the worst throes of the States War, long after catastrophic environmental devastation forced us to fight over land, water, food...long after countrymen turned on one another and the old America proved once and for all that states could never be united, that by their very nature they were separate and incompatible, that the only solution was true Unity...

Wallace grew up in the small town of Champaign, Iowa, back when it was still known as such. He lived on a three-acre plot of land, heavily wooded, and his

fondest childhood memory was one of a bright, brisk December afternoon, when Wallace scrambled happily onto a plastic blue sled and his father pulled him by a rope through the brush out back, through all those trees, to follow deer tracks in the snow. Those tracks led them to the alcove of a brook in a little clearing behind a stone wall, and Wallace stood on the frozen ice of it, breathing the crisp air, listening to the water babbling underneath, and forgetting entirely about the States War and the deadly battle that raged even in that very moment just a few miles away.

Wallace’s father James was killed the following January, defending the house he had built with his own hands from a traveling gang of pilfers. He was shot through the window of his own home, just before he could finish boarding it up.

Wallace was nine years old that January, old enough that his mother couldn’t carry him as she fled with him out the back door, and the thing Wallace remembered most about that morning was the pain in his shoulder as his mother dragged him through those same back woods, where she hid with him by that same frozen brook. But Wallace couldn’t hear the babbling water that day.

When he was twelve, Wallace enlisted in the Iowan militia, which happened to have been a pacifist branch. Its sole purpose was to defend the Iowan borders from the advances of surrounding

states and caravan attackers. Wallace fought with this militia, with the same band of men and women, for eight years. By the time the fighting stopped, every last one of its four hundred members had been killed except Wallace, who was the medic of his band. Nearly every one of those men and women died in his arms.

When the war finally ended and Unity came, Wallace, as with all States War veterans, was given preference in receiving the Mark of citizenship for the new American Union. He was first in line over those who hadn’t fought, as General Lamson was most anxious to Unite his many disparate soldiers. But somehow Wallace never made it all the way to his nearest Pledging Center, in the town of Spokie outside what now was New Chicago. Oh, he made it to Spokie, all right, but once there, Wallace just orbited. He thought of those four hundred last breaths. He thought of the familiar weight against his arms when the breathing stopped, and somehow that must have been just about all he could think of anymore, because one way or another, Wallace never did end up getting his Mark.

So instead he found his way to Slog Row, on the outskirts of Spokie, by the time he was thirty. And that’s where he stayed, on the first floor of a condemned, pre-Unity firehouse, counting his breaths.

His first few years on that Row, Wallace frequented the local hospital in Spokie. He looked for work in the town’s shops and restaurants. He visited the nearby schools. But because he was Unmarked, Wallace never did receive treatment for the traumas he’d suffered in the war. He never was able to buy or rent his own home, or to return to school, or ask a doctor about his rapidly failing health. He couldn’t buy food, so he starved slowly. He couldn’t work, so he retreated into his own mind. He couldn’t vote, so his government forgot about him. He asked for help until he was sure that no one was listening, and then he stopped that silly charade.

My name is Evan Angler. I live among the Markless. And looking at Wallace’s life, there is another quote of which I can’t help but be reminded: “Whatever you do to the least of my brothers that is what you have done to me.”

And then I think about all of us, right now, and I consider how we treat the least of our brothers.