The Word

JL George

PUBLICATION DATE: October 28, 2021

Editions available from New Welsh Review


About the book

Publishing on 28 October 2021

WINNER OF THE NEW WELSH WRITING AWARDS 2019: Aberystwyth University Prize for a Dystopian Novella

One idea can jinx a whole country in less than a lifetime…

Rhydian is one of five teenagers born into his generation with the Word — a preternatural power that enables them to compel other people to obey. Along with his best friend Jonno, almost-grown-up Rachel, and Cadi, he is studied and experimented on in a facility called the Centre. When they learn that the Centre’s purpose is to turn them into weapons of war, the teens go on the run.

How did this brutal fortress Britain emerge? Here, babies are stolen from mothers whose identities are stripped away at will. Protesting crowds are mesmerised, and children who disobey are killed in cold blood.

Exploring themes of coercive control, disinformation and fundamentalism, The Word shows how kindness can emerge when we resist power, practise resistance, and show vulnerability. Combining speculative elements and emotional truths, it is essentially a coming-of-age story, in which brave young individuals fight to keep hold of who they are in a dehumanising world.

JL George was born and lives in Cardiff. She writes weird and speculative fiction. Her work has appeared in anthologies including Resist Fascism,The Black Room Manuscripts, and Into the Woods, and she was a 2019 Literature Wales bursary recipient. A graduate of Manchester and Cardiff universities, her academic interests lie in literature and science, the nineteenth-century Gothic, and the classic weird tale. @jlgeorgewrites


"I am reminded of Kathy Acker, Huxley and of course Atwood. The best dystopian fiction crisscrosses time and makes us reflect upon our present... Jessica George is a vital new voice in Welsh literature fusing flashes of poetic beauty with naturalistic dialogue set in a futuristic landscape that could be today... could well encapsulate the post truth world we find ourselves in 2021."

Patrick Jones, author of the plays Everything Must Go and Before I Leave

“This is a brutal environment, where children who disobey are killed in cold blood… a satire about the brutalities of war… a dystopia about a new religious cult… The Word is a fascinating read"

Cathryn Summerhayes, literary agent at Curtis Brown

“A pacey novella which balances big concepts such as ethics, language, propaganda and control with a human story of flight and finding love and trust where you can…”

Gwen Davies

"Has the vibe of a cult late 70s British sci-fi TV show – one of those clever, bleak, violent ones where you wonder how they slipped it past the higher ups. It explores its fantastical premise thoughtfully – ruminating on the ways in which language can be both a force for liberation and for oppression. Plus there is a charming will-they-won’t-they gay teen love triangle at the centre of it all anchoring its weighty themes."

Lloyd Markham, author of Bad Ideas\Chemicals