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False Dawn

Written By:Chelsea Quinn Yarbro - 1978

  • False Dawn - Chelsea Quinn Yarbro cover

    Doubleday - 1978

  • False Dawn - Chelsea Quinn Yarbro cover

    Warner - April 1979


Doubleday - 1978

In a brutal and wasted world there was only one law—survive at any cost.

It is the turn of the twenty-first century, War, disease, and pollution have made the Earth nearly unfit for human habitation. In America, food is scarce, and what food remains is quickly confiscated by the Pirates—a murderous band of raiders determined to save themselves and to destroy the last stronghold of civilized human beings—the mutant population.

One of these mutants, a woman named Thea, has eluded the Pirates for years. Armed only with a crossbow, her pride, and her common sense, she has been slowly making her way Eastward to Gold Lake—a legendary place of safety and enlightenment. Until one day she meets Evan Montague, a man who needs her help, a man who is also on the run from the Pirates, but for a different reason—he once led the Pirates himself and has now become their most bitter and most hunted enemy.

Together, Thea and Evan trek across a dangerous and wasted California, hoping to survive the brutality of twenty-first-century life... and, perhaps, to find Eden before they die.

Warner - April 1979

A novel of a defiant love illuminating the new Dark Ages of the 21st century.


In the twenty-first century, mutant is a dirty word. A mutant is a human being virally modified for survival in the poisonously polluted environment, a "monster" despised, feared and marked for death by the Pirates who range the country looting, raping and destroying.

Thea is a mutant. For ten years she has survived in the woods, feeding on wild animals, defending herself with her homemade crossbow. Now, in an abandoned silo, she has rescued a mutilated man—Montague, who once led the Pirate forces. In desperation, the two set off together to seek a haven... trusting each other because they must, but never touching because they must not.


Doubleday - 1978

Gold Lake was a long way off.

Evan had made light of their danger at first, but as hunger etched lines into his face and Thea's eyes took on the haunted shadow of starvation, he admitted at least to himself, that they had come a long way to die.

For Thea, hunger was a spectre dogging her steps, but an unreal one. Far more real, more threatening, was the possibility of Pirates of lepers, who would make their dying long and messy. Anxiously, she watched the rocks around them, and the dark shadows under the trees.

As the river rose in the floor of the steep canyon, they climbed high on the ridge above it, far from the thunder of the river and the danger of being trapped in the narrow gorge. Occasionally they caught a glimpse of buildings huddled against the canyon walls, some deserted, some carefully guarded. It was these buildings with their promise of food and shelter that made Evan feel the full weight of their distress, and in time he grew reckless. Knowing that he would make the attempt without her if she refused to help him, he outlined his plan to Thea as they crouched on the crest of the ridge above a small compound of houses and barns, nestled inside wooden fortification...

"Come on," Evan said to Thea, pulling her toward him. As always, she drew back, but he kept his grip on her arm. "We're going down there. It's our only chance."

Warner - April 1979

"Out here alone," Even said, "neither of us stands a chance, not with Cox coming into the mountains—and there are other gangs, too. It's a long way to Gold Lake, but we could make it, together. That's all I ask of you, that we travel together."

"But why?" She was calmer now, but never in her years alone had she felt the need for companionship so keenly. She could not bear to be touched; she did not want to be alone.

"I was wrong when I led the pirates. I can't apologize for what I did; I can't alone. But I can do something worthwhile for once. Don't make me abandon you, Thea."

And Thea went with Evan—into the mountains where wild dogs howled and fought for living flesh, along creeks where water spiders killed with poisonous venom, where rocks tore at their feet and bitter cold assailed them. They joined forces against the wiliest and most despicable of predators—men fed by hate.


Warner - April 1979

"Her writing flashes with a dark and bloody vividness that may yet make her the female counterpart of Harlan Ellison." —Publishers Weekly

"False Dawn has a remarkable character depth that raises it to a higher level. This is real, man and woman struggling to follow a twisted rainbow... fascinatingly fine." —Baryon Magazine