Under the Spreading Chestnut Tree
Under the Spreading Chestnut Tree
Storyrocket Number


Intended Medium

Literary, Movie





Material Type


Funding Platform



United States

Most of the action takes place in Manhattan. The once busy streets are quiet; libraries and museums left to ruin. Subways are deserted. People zip around the sidewalks on self-driving segways.

Near Future

Not so distant dystopian future.
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Dystopian future


The year is 2102: due to widespread use of sex robots and Google glasses, men and women live solitary lives of sterile pleasure. People's bodies and minds are tightly regulated. Hormones are manipulated starting from childhood and most media is banned or has been abolished. As part of the population control agenda, everything from opera to Led Zeppelin is illegal – no reminders of love or human lust. Babies are conceived from eggs and sperm that are prescreened for all known genetic disorders, furthermore infectious disease is virtually eradicated. Scientists and engineers can re-create every body part and organ except the elusive womb, at least, not yet. Women are still required for procreation but motherhood is also tightly regulated, a privilege and not a right.
My strong female protagonist is Hannah who is a "natural", as in a naturally conceived human being. Hannah loves her mother and cherishes memories of her father, yet mildly resents her heritage as all her life she has been a social outcast. She is 20 years old, just starting her career as a nurse; she and her mother deeply desire a baby. Hannah is willing to go through the humiliating tests and painful procedures and to pay unexpected costs. She unwittingly involves herself in gruesome experiments and secret government programs. To protect herself and her child she becomes a victim as well as an accomplice. Yet it's too late when she realizes just how much she had to sacrifice.
Yes, my main character is a woman but I believe men can enjoy this novel as well. The various individuals in my novel respond to the rapidly changing world around them in unique ways. Like many of us their lives are filled with difficult decisions. My audience includes anyone who has rebelled for the common good, and those who may have compromised their morals by following the path of least resistance. My characters celebrate small triumphs yet face many unmet expectations and regrets.
I borrowed my title from 1984, the chestnut tree café where rebels met. My novel has the feel of “The Handmaid’s Tale” but with sex robots and more science. From colony collapse disease of bees leading to food shortages and the need for engineered meats and produce (that tastes awful by-the-way) to self-driving cars that communicate with each other. Also, Ebola and Zika like viruses that mutate and threaten humanity. Readers may feel a little dejected after reading my novel, but that satisfied kind of dejection one feels after reading a Shakespearean tragedy. Readers may also feel cautioned - the novel opens with a fable whose moral is "destroy the seed of evil, or it will grow up to your ruin", ancient words which still are relevant Now, I'm a lover of immunizations and iPhones as much as the next person, but maybe there's such a thing as too much medicine or too many electronics. All those concerned about the current trajectory of technology and society will be interested in my view of the not so distant future.

  • Hilary Smith

    Hilary Smith Please check out my new novel, "Under the Spreading Chestnut Tree".

    2 years ago -

  • Hilary Smith

    Hilary Smith Please check out my new novel, "Under the Spreading Chestnut Tree".

    2 years ago -

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