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Mark Morton

Fiction | Nonfiction | Essays | Articles

New Release

The Headmasters

(2024)

How do you learn from the past if there isn’t one? 

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Sixty years ago, something awful happened. Something that killed everyone except the people at Blue Ring. Something that caused the Headmasters to appear. But Maple doesn’t know what it was. Because talking about the past is forbidden.

Everyone at Blue Ring has a Headmaster. They sink their sinewy coils into your skull and control you, using your body for backbreaking toil and your mind to communicate with each other.

When someone dies, their Headmaster transfers to someone new. But so do the dead person’s memories, and if one of those memories surfaces in the new host’s mind, their brain breaks. That’s why talking about the past is forbidden.

Maple hates this world where the past can’t exist and the future promises only more suffering. And she hates the Headmasters for making it that way. But she doesn’t know how to fight them – until memories start to surface in her mind from someone who long ago came close to defeating the Headmasters.

But whose memories are they? Why aren’t they harming her? And how can she use them to defeat the Headmasters? Maple has to find the answers herself, unable to tell anyone what she’s experiencing or planning—not even Thorn, the young man she’s falling in love with.

Thorn, who has some forbidden secrets of his own. . . 

“Mark Morton’s The Headmasters is a brilliant science-fiction debut from one of Canada’s best-loved nonfiction writers. This compelling novel is a spot-on updating of Robert A. Heinlein’s classic The Puppet Masters for the new millennium, with intricate world-building, a great science-fiction puzzle, and — ironic for a novel about suppressed memories — a main character you’ll never forget. I loved it.”

— Robert J. Sawyer, Hugo Award-winning author of The Downloaded

"The Headmasters is a provocative and intelligent novel that challenges its readers to think about oppression and domination, what it means to truly resist, and what motivates one to fight against a tyrannical system. 5/5 stars" -- LitPick

Praise & Reviews

"Morton employs a rich, descriptive language that vividly brings to life the oppressive environment of the compound and the wild, untamed beauty of the surrounding forest—a place of both danger and refuge, where the seeds of rebellion quietly germinate… The Headmasters stands as a testament to Morton's imaginative prowess and his ability to infuse a riveting plot with profound thematic depth." 

— The St. Louis Literary Review

"Readers will relate to the emotional core of Maple and Thorn's journey and the losses they experience along the way... the visceral imagery will stick with them long after the story has ended, providing a narrative that is simultaneously thrilling and terrifying." -- Joshua Roy

"Memorable, thrilling, and entertaining, author Mark Morton’s The Headmasters is a must-read sci-fi and dystopian YA read. The emotional and engaging journey the protagonist goes on and the epic world-building mixed with the spine-chilling terror of the Headmasters made this a one-of-a-kind and a great start to the 2024 season for sci-fi and YA readers everywhere." 

— Anthony Avina

"Fast-paced, engaging, this thrilling sci-fi novel is a must read for all readers." -- A. R. Critique

About Mark Morton

I'm the author, most recently, of the YA novel The Headmasters, but also the author of four nonfiction books about language, food, sex, culture, and history.  I've also been a writer and broadcaster for CBC Radio, a columnist for Gastronomica: The Journal of Food and Culture, and co-founder of the Winnipeg International Writers Festival. 

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