The Land God Gave to Cain - Our June 2019 book
Our June read for this year is The Land God Gave to Cain (1958, 307pp) by Hammond Innes. Innes was a seasoned traveller and a writer of adventure novels. He would sail the seas in his yacht for half the year, and spend the other have of the year writing tales of derring-do, many of which took place at sea.
The Land God Gave to Cain, however, takes place in the barrens of Labrador, north of the St Lawrence River. It's got planes and trains and hard-bitten French Canadians and there's a murder mystery to be solved. I mean, just look at this cover! Anyway, it's a light adventure romp, perfect for the busy days of late spring. I've read quite a few Innes books over the years and this isn't my favourite (that would be The Blue Ice), but that said, there's something about this book that has stuck with me since I first read it maybe 20 years ago. For a long time now, I've wanted to explore Colonialism in gaming, and fist did so with a horror scenario for Nemesis RPG called Dark River - heavily inspired by the writings of Conrad. Next I did The Black Hand of the Raj for Trail of Cthulhu which was inspired by a Patrick McGrath short story of the same name.
I've always imagined that the third in the series would take place in Eastern Canada's northern barrens, and just like The Land God Gave to Cain would feature hard-bitten men in a hostile environment, building a railroad. So yes, it's probably time to read this one again. And when I do this one, I'd like to create my own system that builds on what I liked about the other two for bringing out psychological horror.
The name of the book, by the way, is a reference to a piece of Canadian history. From the Canadian Encyclopedia:
The Land God Gave to Cain, was Jacques CARTIER's description of the north shore of the Gulf of St Lawrence, which he first sighted in 1534. Cartier was presumably alluding to Genesis 4, in which Cain, having killed his brother, is condemned to till land that is barren.