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A Foreword Reviews' 2014 INDIEFAB Book of the Year Awards Finalist,
and named one of the Best Fantasy/SciFi of 2014 by Foreword Reviews

Cold Earth Wanderers is a science fiction novel set in a completely built-up world where vertical values are prized while all horizontal tendencies are suspect.
16 year old Elgin Marble has had enough of a world that is decidedly vertical. When his father, an upstanding elevator man, is marked for disposal, Elgin joins an underground group called the Crabs. This illicit group tirelessly digs tunnels in the hope of one day breaking through to the outside. But who are the Crabs, and can they be trusted? Elgin's mother, Ellen, is worried sick about her son. The ruthless school principal, Mr. Orion, warns her that Elgin is in big trouble and blackmails her for sexual favors. Together they go underground to search for the boy. Meanwhile, agents of the IVT (Institute for Vertical Thinking) are also hot on his trail, and the Crabs are feeling the heat.


“A darkly comic folktale for a dysfunctional future, or a nightmare fable for disobedient children, Peter Wortsman’s Cold Earth Wanderers sends a disaffected teenager down the elevator shaft of an up-and-down human habitat cut off from its roots, on an unsettling journey to recover what was lost. Against the myth of mindless upward progress Wortsman pits the subversive grotesquerie of open-ended lateral exploration.”Geoffrey O’Brien, author of “The Phantom Empire” and “Stolen Glimpses, Captive Shadows”
“In Cold Earth Wanderers Peter Wortsman has given us as daft and delirious a dystopia as might be imagined. Comparisons with Edwin A. Abbott’s endlessly ingenious Flatland are both inevitable and entirely warranted.”James Morrow, author of “Galápagos Regained”
“The mingled joy and strife of liberation propel Wortsman’s harshly elegant dystopian fable... After his father is terminated via an “occupant disposal chute,” adolescent Elgin’s wayward “horizontal thinking” brands him as a possible troublemaker in a tyrannical society that requires literal and metaphorical “vertical thinking” from its inhabitants... In Elgin, Wortsman (Ghost Dance in Berlin) has created a sympathetic individualist whose search for freedom rings true. Inevitable betrayal in a world of paranoia and mass complacency suggests that optimism may be the worst deceit of all... this intellectually provocative novel is worth a read.”Publishers Weekly

“A mother and son’s parallel journey and serious social commentary elevate this novel above other Orwellian dystopian books... [t]he initial story line is entertaining with many a close call, dangerous secret meetings, and exciting explorations of the underground world, but what sets Wortsman’s world apart is a second, more mature layer of reflection and social commentary... The parallel story of mother and son offers a unique perspective on events.

With its multigenerational cast of characters, Cold Earth Wanderers appeals on several levels. Adults and young adults alike should consider exploring Wortsman’s chilling glimpse into the future.”

Pallas Gates McCorquodale, Foreword Reviews

“Peter Wortsman’s Cold Earth Wanderers carves out a place for itself among the many great science fiction novels that have come before it because of the fresh take on the old notion that sometimes things are not what they seem.”

Jack Hill, American Micro Reviews

“Our world, crusted over in grime, half-buried ... has been superseded by a status quo so bizarre as to simultaneously beg an allegorical interpretation and defy any attempt to box it in or decode its weirdness...

...the newness and detail of Wortsman’s conceit outshines any familiarity of the dystopian set-up.”

Spencer Dew, decomP Magazine

Peter Wortsman is the author of 4 books including the travel memoir Ghost Dance in Berlin, winner of a 2014 Independent Publishers Book Award. He has written two stage plays and produced many translations from the German including Tales of the German Imagination, From the Brothers Grimm to Ingeborg Bachmann, 2013. His travel writing has been selected five years in a row for The Best Travel Writing 2008-2012. He has won numerous awards and is a former Fellow of the Fulbright (1973) and Thomas J. Watson (1974) Foundations, and he was the Holtzbrinck Fellow at the American Academy in Berlin in Spring 2010.