Future tale of people living in non-stop caravans of vehicles that travel the highways, in numbers that amount to a civilization on it's own. Protagonist is a young guy who works as a mechanic in a mobile garage, and his struggles with his wayward wife. At one point, he is thrown out/off the caravan, and there is concern that the mobile people will suffer severe mental trauma if they ever stop moving.

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    Sounds like it could be On Wheels by John Jakes (1973). Was the young guy named Billy Spoiler?
    – Cassfrank
    Mar 11 at 0:13
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    @Cassfrank That should be an answer. It sound right to me. Mar 11 at 5:38
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    Mr. Nimbus: there's a review of On Wheels here. Have a look and see if it matches your memory of the book. Mar 11 at 5:39

2 Answers 2


This sounds very much like John Jake's On Wheels (1973). It is about a future world where people drive continuously in caravans. The protagonist is a young man, Billy Spoiler, who is a mechanic and, at one point, is kicked out into the wilds.

Here is a more detailed description:

"John Jakes’ satirical On Wheels (1973) subverts the popular trope of the freedom of the road. The clans (convoys of linked cars, mobile stores, residential cars, bars, and mechanics) who journey across the massive highways that crisscross the USA never dropping below 40 mph are no more free than the denizens of the crowded mega cities. At first glance the clans exude an aura of rebellion made manifest in their claims of voluntarily social estrangement from the rest of society, hyper-masculine car races and duels over women, and self-justifying theology connecting their existence to some grand American narrative of the past..."

"In three parts—humorously labeled “Low Gear,” “Through the Gears,” and “High Gear”—Jakes follows the life of Billy Spoiler, an aimless adolescent who struts around in “Dacro-prest Imitation Denim” (43) and prone to wet dreams “involving himself, the Firebird, and the honey-haired blonde who rode the bird with flames streaming out behind her naked buttocks” (40). Via Billy and his exploits Jakes levels a blunt critique of hyper-masculine road (biker?) culture. Almost a pastiche of the adolescent rebel filled with dangerous sexism and violent tendencies, Billy, smelling of “his own STP Brand All-Man Afta-shave Bracer” (43) lusts after the manipulative Rose Ann, “He didn’t like the woman ways he saw in her green eyes. But the heat inside him pushed that aside” (45). Her boyfriend Lee, of the rival Ramp clan, challenges him to a race for Rose’s hand! With the clans cheering the dangerous spectacle on, Lee Ramp and Billy resort to dirty tactics. Lee barely survives, charred and desperate for revenge."

Quotes are from the review of the book on the Science Fiction Ruminations site - click here to read full review

cover art

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    If you're quoting that much text you should provide a link or attribution of your source.
    – DavidW
    Mar 11 at 19:09
  • It looks like the source is the link in John Rennie's comment in the OPs post. sciencefictionruminations.com/2017/01/03/…
    – user92109
    Mar 11 at 21:22
  • I did provide the link. It is in blue, "review" under the passages. But I'll edit to be even more obvious.
    – Cassfrank
    Mar 11 at 23:24
  • That's it! Many thanks!
    – Mr. Nimbus
    Mar 12 at 2:34

I found one possible match for you: Non-Stop by Brian Aldiss. It was published in 1958 and it’s about a generation ship where the inhabitants have forgotten their origins and live in a constant state of motion. The protagonist is a young man named Roy Complain who joins an expedition to explore the ship and discover its secrets. It’s not exactly what you described, but it’s the closest I could find.

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    I'm struggling to find any overlap at all between Non-Stop and what is described in the question. Except the word non-stop appears in the question. Mar 11 at 1:34
  • Not it, but I'm an Aldiss fan and had not heard of this, I'll check it out.
    – Mr. Nimbus
    Mar 12 at 2:39

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