top of page


These Prisoning Hills

"Haunting and heartfelt, violent and vibrant."—Alix E. Harrow

Deallocate all implications,
Fortran harrows all the nations.

In a long-ago war, the all-powerful A.I. ruler of the Voluntary State of Tennessee—Athena Parthenus, Queen of Reason—invaded and decimated the American Southeast. Possessing the ability to infect and corrupt the surrounding environment with nanotechnology, she transformed flora, fauna, and the very ground itself into bio-mechanical weapons of war.

Marcia, a former captain from Kentucky, experienced first-hand the terrifying, mind-twisting capabilities of Athena’s creatures. Now back in the Commonwealth, her retirement is cut short by the arrival of federal troops in her tiny, isolated town. One of Athena’s most powerful weapons may still be buried nearby. And they need Marcia’s help to find it.

Advance Praise

“[Christopher] Rowe is one of the finest and most humane writers of science fiction working today. His territory lies within the ruptured space where technology, humanity, and the natural world intersect, and his subject matter is trauma and the possibility of restoration, which he addresses with both tenderness and clinical skill.”—Kelly Link

“These Prisoning Hills is just as haunted and heartfelt, as violent and vibrant, as the Bluegrass State itself.”—Alix E. Harrow

“Meticulous prose, a generous heart, and a wild imagination—this is what we expect from Christopher Rowe, and this is what he continues to provide.”—Karen Joy Fowler

“Christopher Rowe's future Kentucky is at once familiar and delightfully, cinematically strange.”—Sarah Pinsker

"Some of the richest landscapes I've walked are ones that only Christopher Rowe can show me. Among the proud, brave irregulars of 21st-century fiction, Rowe is our most visionary mapmaker. I'd follow him anywhere!"—Andy Duncan

"In just under 150 pages, Rowe is able to develop a completely believable world with relatable characters that draw the reader in from the start."—Booklist

"A succinct but surprisingly intuitive character study."—Library Journal

"In one sense, These Prisoning Hills is a super-postmodern version of a classic American guide-to-the-wilderness tale that dates back to Daniel Boone and James Fenimore Cooper; in another, it recalls the ‘‘forbidden zone’’ plots of much post-apocalyptic SF; in yet another, [...] it’s a suspenseful future-war tale. For someone with so many apparent roots in traditional SF, Rowe still manages to make his Tennessee both completely new and thoroughly grounded, and not quite like any other setting in SF."—Locus

Telling the Map

Stories that sometimes begin in the hills of Kentucky and head out into complicated and sometimes hopeful futures. 


"Precision was his watchword and his sacrament." 


There are ten stories here, including one readers have waited ten long years for: in a new novella, "The Border State," Rowe revisits the world of his much-lauded story, "The Voluntary State." Competitive cyclist twins Michael and Maggie have trained all their lives to race internationally. One thing holds them back. Their mother who years before crossed the border...into Tennessee. 

Finalist for the Neukom Institute Literary Arts Award.

Book no.2
Book no.1
bottom of page