It seems to be quite inevitable that the reign of humans on earth will one day come to an end.  This demise could be a spectacular and cataclysmic one, or it could be much more subtle and gradual in nature.  Ending with a whimper rather than a bang.  In his story, Food truck at World’s End, author Joe Chili paints a convincing picture of the latter.  A good pick for lovers of dystopian fiction which contains a strong dash of transcendentalism.

The story is set in California and primarily focuses upon the protagonist who goes by the name of Joe.  The world has fallen apart and is inhabited by survivors such as Joe, as well as others who have been altered and “tweaked” by genetics in a most alarming fashion.  A strange place indeed!  In the middle of this scenario is Joe.  He makes the absolute best chili in the world and believes it may hold the key to changing this mixed up world for the better.  Earth’s survivors have set up a system whereby they barter for their needs.  Traditional currency is long gone and worthless.  Joe’s chili is a prized jewel when it comes to bartering, and is sought out and envied by many.  With a world Chili Cook-Off right around the corner, Joe seeks to enter and win the competition… thus changing the world in the process.  Nevertheless, there are others who are eyeing Joe and his chili with envy and are determined to take the prize from him.  Will Joe manage to succeed and change the planet for the better?  Or will he become one more casualty in a land of chaos?

Without a doubt, there is a lot to like about this short story.  The plot has an even flow and is backed up by great descriptive writing.  In particular, the “Tweakers” are very intriguing and imaginative.  They make you think about what genetic modifications we may make ourselves if given the opportunity.  Which power would we like to have?  However, at the same time, what price would we pay to gain such “gifts”?  In essence, that is the crux of the story.  It is all about choices.  While the novelette is short in nature, it will not only manage to challenge the reader to think about the own choices they have made in life… but ultimately those made by society at large.  If we continue down our current path, will we end up like those in Joe’s world?  Deep issues to think about!

All in all, I found this to be an intriguing and thought-provoking read.  Great descriptive details and well thought out ideas.  Nevertheless, I do think there is a lot more left to tell in this piece.  I found the world to be fascinating and would like to know a lot more about the background and motivations of all the different characters.  I believe that would allow the reader to form a much stronger bond with the inhabitants of this strange new world.

3 out of 5 Thought-Provoking Stars for this one!