Set in the indeterminately near future, a ragtag band of employees of the Manhattan Company (roughly analogous to the colonial-era venture capitalist Virginia Company of London) leaves the city in an armored bus as the Chrysler Building disappears in a cloud of dust. Their mission is to cross the wasteland between New York and Virginia, make contact with the local Indian population and exploit their natural resources. The settlers prove to be as dangerous to one another as the hazards of I-95, but they manage to reach the Chesapeake, establish a camp of sorts and prepare to make contact with the Indians.
For the most part, Sharpe hews to what details are known from the historical record. Nearly half of the original Jamestown colonists were self-described "gentlemen" who knew little about surviving in the wilderness. Centuries later, the suit-wearing refugees are no different, derided by the natives as a "pack of weaklings" without "a single skill to live beyond their fortress town up north."
They have red skins because of the SPF-90 sunscreen they slosh on, not because they are of American-Indian descent. They use bows and arrows and live in huts, but communicate with wireless devices. The centuries collapse madly into each other in this story, and no one seems to notice or care.
Pocahontas is the star of "Jamestown." Her inimitable voice blends Valley Girl (if the valley were the Shenandoah), MySpace chatter, IM-ing, hip-hop, ribald rhymes and "Dear Diary" musings, and her segments are by far the most fun to read.
This is history as parody, black, bloody and biting. Sharpe's over-the-top style is the book's greatest virtue and most self-indulgent vice: Too much of a good thing can be, sometimes, just too much.