Tag: Short Review

Michael Bay Presents, In Association with John Woo, Hurricane Fever-Cruise Control

Hurricane Fever is one of the largest literary disappoints I’ves suffered through in a long while. To be clear, the book is perfectly acceptable, action oriented, fast paced, and the setting and plot are solid if not exceptional in some parts. The focus on more action driven, pragmatic characters even manages to shield the novel from the preachy exposition of most other climate related works. The Caribbean setting and the boat centric travel of the book, show a world that is both geographically and socially adapted to a new climate which brings me to the disappointment.

This is how all climate related literature should start .
This is how all climate related literature should start .

Everything in this book is palpable and vibrant. The land masses the movements, even the buildings are easily internalized and projected, allowing the reader to place the characters in an environment that feels natural. With all of this close and intricate detail any well written character could be made fascinating with minimal effort. The smallest amount of personality would echo off of each new situation eventually filling the space with one phrase that is large enough to carry that character’s existence within the story. Basically, any regular character can be made interesting by this world. Even one note character would be memorable due to an infinite amount of unknowable changes and situations that can be provided by the book’s universe.

Sadly, the characters of Hurricane Fever sort of miss the singular note they were intended to play and become either plot fodder or props. I didn’t feel anything towards any of the book’s central figures, I didn’t hate them, I didn’t like them; they weren’t unique, bad, or funny. They were just words, descriptions without any emotion. Normally, I hate exposition, or long breaks in the plot where the characters spend hours discussing the most boring aspects of their lives as a means to be accessible, but Hurricane Fever needed something endearing to happen and for sincerity to result.

Artist's Rendition of Every Character In this Book
Artist’s Rendition of Every Character In this Book

The Year of the Flood- Joining Cults Is Fun Except for the Brainwashing

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Is it possible to be a benevolent and powerful leader? Does acting against something evil automatically make the actions themselves good? When we rebuild from rubble to sky while we use the same designs. These are my mild Atwood induced philosophical questions. The Year of the Flood, from its title to one of its most memorable characters, floats in allegory. /

The question that keeps gnawing at my brain is how much freedom is there in religion and how much freedom can we give it? If the routine and life of a garden and a charismatic leader allow you to fend off the pain of everything else and provide you with both security and perceived safety do the sources’  intention matter? And most importantly, does a man’s allegiance fall to his kin or to his god. It’s the idea of separation and individualism that strikes me about both religion and by extension Atwood’s The Year of the Flood.

 

It is my belief that the Atwood doesn’t think that the God’s Gardeners are to be ridiculed. They are people facing an unbelievable challenge by trying to structure their world in some way. Adam One is a man who believes that he is providing this structure by means of divinity. However, there is no question of who is in charge and whose views are to be agreed with, so the structured area becomes more sanitarium than sanctuary. The religious answers become doctrine, and sentiments of caring become lessons and warnings.

Now the themes of religion, influence, and maturing may seem better suited to a low-budget indie film, but they are the backbone of the climate debate. More accurately they are the reason that we are having a debate about a fact as if will power can change physics. The immediate des ri

Adam One is obviously a descendant of the incredibly conservative Kebler Elves
Adam One is obviously a descendant of the incredibly conservative Kebler Elves

community, and acceptance creates a vacuum of doubt and defensiveness. In a way our cult is one of denial, many of us worry about our immediate goals and them. We build our arks to transport only our ideals. However, we build arks with mud because we despise the effort of fashioning wood and why we can’t argue our boats afloat.

A Storm is Approaching

When first starting Hurricane Fever I couldn’t help but laugh due to the fact that two characters you meet in the beginning chapters are named Roo and Seneca which just happens to be two characters from the movie The Hunger Games. Straying from that, I felt that Hurricane Fever was definitely one of the best books we read this semester. I thought Tobias S. Buckwell was successful in his efforts in creating an engaging, action-packed thriller with the seriousness of climate change constantly on the back burner, never fizzing out and being a constant issue in the story-line. Hurricane Fever is definitely a simple and quick read. I felt that the only parts of the story that generally confused me were one, being able to visualize the exact locations of the characters and two, being able to visualize his boat Spitfire. Ultimately I guess that just comes back to my own lack of knowledge of the Caribbean Islands and boats in general, but it still would of been nice to have better descriptions in the story. Overall, compared to the some of the other novels we read this semester such as The Collapse of Western Civilization, it was refreshing to read a book that was written in more a simplistic fashion that focused on intensity in the sense of action rather than overwhelming and often confusing science.

We follow Roo, an ex secret agent for Caribbean Intelligence, on an engaging adventure to get down to the bottom of his ex partner and friend Zee’s murder. Before this we are informed that Roo lives a simple life and has no family except for his nephew Delroy. All of this changes when he receives a call from “beyond the grave” from Zee informing Roo of his death and what Roo now needs to do. I found this book to just overall be fun and entertaining. It was pretty much the only book this semester that I truly could not put down. I personally feel that this book would benefit greatly as an action-packed film.

I’m Not Really Feeling The Fever

After finishing Hurricane Fever I have to say that this book was just…okay. I think it was an interesting, fast paced, action packed book that left me only slightly entertained. It felt more like a movie and less like a book. I found myself enjoying the overall story, but I also wanted more details overall. After reading posts from other people I can see that they really enjoyed that it was a story that wasn’t focused on climate change, but I found that I really wanted there to be more on climate change. The most important issue that the book discussed about climate change was the increasing amount of storms that they faced.

What I found to be interesting was the way that the characters were handling the climate change, especially in countries that were practically underwater. One of the more common facts about climate change that people know about is the rising water levels and how parts of countries will be under water. I thought it was interesting that in the book these countries still tried to survive and make life work in these areas that are halfway underwater and constantly hit with storms.

One thing that I really did like about the book was the fact that the book was set in the future, but it still felt like a world that I could understand and relate to.  I also like the futuristic and upgraded things in the book, like the concrete houses to brave the storm, the quick healing first aid kits, and the wet suits that help people survive in the water. I thought these were really awesome touches to the story that made it futuristic, but still keep it grounded in a world that I recognize.

Overall this was not my favorite book, but I think it was successful in creating a realistic version of the world after climate change.

The Year of the Flood

I have to say, leading up to this week, I had never read anything by Margaret Atwood. At first, I found her writing style to be somewhat confusing as the jumpy nature of her narration was slightly difficult to grasp in the beginning, but after about 50 pages I was able to jump right into the story. Much like some of the other books we have read this semester, the author jumps around from character to character. However, unlike all the other books we have read she leans heavily on the use of flashbacks as to allow the reader to get a fuller understanding of the characters. I found her writing style to be interesting, as I personally have never encountered an author who is able to jump from perspective to perspective while shifting time periods, and then effectively weave the stories together. From a literary standpoint, it is quite impressive. While this book did not stand out to me more than The Windup Girl, it is still nearly impossible for the reader to forget the characters and the world that Atwood creates, and in many ways this is the sign of a talented author.

 

The story mainly follows two women Toby and Ren in a dystopian world where corporate greed has destroyed the environment (thanks Gordon Gecko). Greed is good? Well apparently it is not in Margaret Atwood’s world. I think one of the most powerful aspects of this book is Atwood’s take on corporations. The companies in this book that do disgusting and unspeakable things comically parallel many corporations that we have today. Much like other effective works of science fiction, Atwood is critiquing and describing the world that we live in by simply giving things different names and making it clear to the reader that the story takes place in the future. Much like The Windup Girl, the effectiveness of the book comes from giving the reader just enough detail so that they can create the world in their own mind. Our main characters are members of an environmental cult/movement that correctly predicted an incoming waterless flood. Their preparedness for this plague allows them to be among the few who survive. I found that the book dragged at certain points, but, again, similar to The Windup Girl the part that made even the boring parts interesting was just how established and believable Atwood’s world was.

 

I really did not expect to like this book, but there is something indescribable about it that seems to stay with you. She supplies the reader with a powerful message, and I think she successfully conveys the selfish manner in which humans live on this planet. I am sure that many would say that she is simply another hippie liberal that loves trees, animals, and the environment, but she does make many eye opening points that in my mind cannot be argued. I definitely connected with the book, and I would certainly recommend it to people.

Are We Headed Down This Road?

The Windup Girl was a little bit of a struggle to get through. The book starts and you are thrust into a world that isn’t the easiest to understand right off the bat. At first you have no concepts of when the book is taking place or what has happened that has led to the current events. It doesn’t help that the characters change from chapter to chapter. I did like that you got to know each of the important characters through their own stories and see how their social statuses effected their stories. Each character came from a different type of background, from Anderson being the rich white guy who is considered a foreign devil to Emiko who is a genetically designed new person. It’s interesting to see how the social structure plays a large role in the story. The rich still have the power to control the poor and make money off of their suffering. I think that it was also interesting to see that all of the characters were corrupt in some sort of way. By writing from several characters’ perspectives, the book is able to show the story from every perspective, rather than painting just one person as the bad guy. While reading it I found myself disliking something about almost every character.

The thing that I really did like about the book was how you got to see life after the largest horrors had passed. It was a way to see life after they were dealing with the effects of climate change. The genetically modified food, animals and people were intriguing ideas of a possible future. We are constantly trying to modify foods to meet our needs. It brings up compelling ideas monopolizing food companies controlling the world. We already see hints of that in the world today with companies like Monsanto. I think the book paints a very realistic possibility when it comes to these large money hungry companies. I think that book really shows the lengths that these companies are willing to go to make money.

Overall I wasn’t the biggest fan of this book, but I didn’t hate it. It had some interesting moments that made me really think about the future in the book is a road that the world could possibly head down

Forty Signs of Rain: Too Real for Its Own Good?

I wouldn’t say that Forty Signs of Rain is a genre-blending book, but that’s only because I’m not sure I could define the exact elements of each genre involved and where blending occurs. It is a story that rests in its own category and presents a realistic portrait of it’s characters and arcs without following any strict stylistic rules.

Sometimes, this lack of constraints ends up hurting the novels literary pursuits. The plot stalls at some points and jumps abruptly to others. Frank seems to be confused about whether he is an emotionally attached observer or a passionate activist and while this makes sense in the context of human complexity it makes it hard to identify with him. Anna and the rest of the characters all seem to behave similarly, they’re passionate about the research they do, the change they want to see, and the dangers that may occur, but they are always composed to some degree.

The behavior makes sense and the homogenous personalities also seem fitting for a group of people with shared goals and interests. It is realistic and even intuitive and that’s the problem. Characters sometimes take drastic measures (repelling from rooftops and tracking down women that they barely know) but these measures are methodical. If the characters were given dramatized personalities that differed from each other, the book may have seemed a little more cohesive and the pacing may have been more natural and intuitive.

Character consistency does help the plot in a lot of ways that make the themes more prominent and the actual events more tangible. The hard science of the novel and the detached nature of it’s scientists show the problems that the real world has with climate-related policy. The people who are most aware of the dangerous consequences are unable to bend and sacrifice their analytical methods. While, the opposition is untethered to rigor and validity and able to use rhetoric and manipulation in ways that the scientific community either can’t or won’t.

The problem is that we have no idea what the exact outcome of our excess will be and all of our warnings are given theoretically and without the full conviction and vigor that is consistent with today’s political arguments. There is little poetry in the explanations of atmospheric damage and rising sea levels. We aren’t moved to action because we haven’t felt fright or dread on an emotional level. We know what will happen and why we should change, but that kick of pure instinct just hasn’t happened.

Frank would most likely agree with all of the above sentiments which is one of the reasons that I really like the book and don’t consider it’s narrative roadblocks as true mistakes. It is the book that it needs to be and while this approach may not yield the best literature or the most effective tool of propaganda, it makes for a cohesion on an intellectual level that the genre of science fiction needs.

Forty Signs of Rain: Effective Boredom

             Forty Signs of Rain is a clearly well written novel about the scientific/ political landscape through which the issue of climate change must navigate. As far as my knowledge goes, this is a very realistic and scarily plausible account of what could happen in real life. As I read this book, I could not tell if it was intended to be a warning or simply a story told by a concerned author. Kim Stanley Robinson’s ability to combine plot, character development, and science is quite effective. In many instances, people who do not have much prior knowledge about climate change can be put off by overly scientific language. I cannot say that I disagree; often times scientific literature can be as interesting as reading an Ikea instruction manual. In many ways, books such as Forty Signs of Rain are exactly what the scientific community and the regular population needs. People need a solid blend of relateableness and raw facts. Robinson begins each chapter with a page or two of scientific information before continuing with the story. We get to know and like a wide array of people who have some sort of presence in the scientific/environmental field. In my opinion, this is the vessel that may potentially get people to the destination of understanding the seriousness of climate change. It can be truly difficult to describe this phenomenon because in reality we cannot know which forms it will take. It is because of this that the climate deniers can poke holes in the issue. They can say “see, even the experts don’t know what will happen.” This is exactly the kind of short sighted, simplistic mind state that is preventing us from achieving any progress. While it is true that we do not know how climate change will play out, we do know that it will affect the overall climate of Earth. In many cases people confuse the idea of climate with weather, when weather is really just a part of the overall climate. When people talk about impacting the climate, they are talking about how as humans we are directly influencing the very fragile chemical and systematic equilibrium of the Earth. The Earth in essence is its own living entity, and when you alter one aspect of it, say the chemical composition of the atmosphere, this throws out the overall balance, which can in turn affect weather, pressure patterns, overall temperatures, oceanographic flows, and many, many other aspects. In a way, the climate is like an ecosystem in that if an outside party does something to one particular species, it disrupts its entire dynamic. While impacting our climate is a rather broad and somewhat incomprehensible idea in and of itself, through books like Forty Signs of Rain we can all picture how it will affect everyone’s lives when the planet as we know it is out of balance. Forty Signs of Rain describes one such possibility, which is that eventually we will be forced to face extreme weather events, and this is an inevitable result of climate change. This is something that we are already seeing. While the book is set in the near future most likely, we are already starting to see such events.

I think that Kim Stanley Robinson wrote a very effective book. His point definitely gets across to the reader by the end. I do think, however, that it could have been about 200 pages shorter. After I finished reading the first 200 pages for class last week, my first thought was, geez, I just read 200 pages of a book and absolutely nothing happened. I truly thought if someone asked me what was the book about I could not have come up with an answer. From those first 200 pages, I think he talked about Anna’s breast milk and Charlie getting Joe to drink it more than anything else. I couldn’t for the life of me think of how this served any purpose to the overall story. Part of me wanted Kim to be a female author to reduce this level of oddness. Nonetheless, Kim turned it around in the second half. You realize that by the end, all of the boring droning done by Charlie and other characters was simply to illustrate how these things work in Washington. If one has a passion for a certain topic or issue he or she must do a bunch of horribly boring and tedious work to get any type of progress. I think that democracies such as ours are able to pass some truly evil bills and suspicious legislation because it is masked by dry, old politicians droning in what they would claim to be English but resembles more 18th century legal language on the CSPAN network. Most people could watch a politician try to pass a ban on breathing, and not even know that its happening let alone stay awake long enough to hear them say more than two sentences. I think that in the end Robinson created an interesting and realistic work. I also think that he is taking the stance that something terrible must happen first in order for people to care, but as a student studying this, I like to remain more hopeful in that we can take some real action soon.

The Scientist: A Realistic Hero

Kim Stanley Robinson is clearly an intelligent person filled with brilliant ideas as well as a skilled author and it shows immensely in his novel Forty Signs of Rain. However, I feel that the length of this novel was almost unnecessary. Robinson could have cut out a significant amount from Forty Signs of Rain and he still would have been able to successfully convey all of his key points concerning climate change, science and politics. With that being said, this novel is generally slow-moving and it honestly took me some time to actually become intrigued. The true action portion of the novel doesn’t come till close to the end.

As for the characters, I really enjoyed that Anna’s husband, Charlie, was portrayed as a stay-at-home dad and worked from home. That is definitely something you don’t see very often. Anna herself is primarily focused on throughout the novel. She is overall a likeable character but I feel that most importantly she is relatable which adds to the notion of realism portrayed in this novel. Anna is depicted as the “ordinary hero” who can take on the tasks of being a scientist as well as a mother. Her colleague, Frank, takes the cake for being the most unlikable characters of the bunch who comes off as offensive most of the time. Ultimately, I feel that a majority of people who read Forty Signs of Rain will be anxious to continue the series.

Fight or Flight

 

 

Flight Behavior earns its name, whether it’s the housewife, Dellarobia, running towards a new man, the monarchs flying to a new home, or the comment on social class when poor Appalachian women is told to help the environment by flying less.

While the butterfly migration stands out as the frequent flyer, it is important to remember the other definitions of the word flight, the more fitting description of flight in the context of the fight, Flight can be an escape from the confines of unrelenting and imminent disaster.

Dellarobia flees her husband when her husband becomes or is recognized as an inescapable force of benign intent but infuriating character. She can see no other way to salvation besides the first one she finds and in her desperation marches towards an ill-advised affair. He monarchs face an unknown and changed weather that leads them to one area of safety, they have no idea that they’ve committed to death and believe that the path that they’ve taken will save them.

Civilization faces a similar problem. Many of us feel the hunger pains and search for the first sign of food without thinking of the consequences. When those pains are no longer there; we still remember them vivid as day. We also remember that the world can make you hungry again, we’ve seen or been the victim of a closed factory an outsourced department. The hunger is always there and the fear of that life is a prison.

Telling civilization to endure hunger and work to prevent something that we do not know seems reasonable when that hunger is for a new car or a new house. But, the hunger to keep the crumbling house together, the hunger of choosing whether stealing is justified if it’s to feed your child, those we can feel. How do you explain to someone that they need to vote against a new factory and a consistent income in favor of clean air that they’re too anxious to enjoy?

Flight Behavior brings the beauty of the temporary salvation into the conversation on climate change; it shows the reasoning behind our sins and the ignorance that caused them, along with the fear of losing everything. Then it shows the truth behind our fears. We’re running from an attack and into a busy street. We will hunger and hurt, but if we do not, we will not survive.

Too Bad We All Can’t Fly To A New Earth

I thought that Flight Behavior by Barbra Kingsolver was a very interesting read. Although the pacing was a little slow, I was able to really connect with the characters and their situations, especially Dellarobia.

When the story starts I was honestly kind of bored. Dellarobia’s life is nothing but a constant daily routine of taking care of children, her husband included. She cleans, cooks and follows the orders of her in-laws. She is not one to stand up for herself and the most interesting moments are the moments when she talks of breaking away from it all. As Dellarobia gets more involved with the butterflies and climate change, I found myself more connected and intrigued by her story. Her interest and intensity on the subject is something I can definitely relate to. In the beginning of the book she is just as ignorant to climate change as I was. She goes about her day-to-day life thinking that the weather is just weird, and that it’s just the kind of year they’re having. As she discovers the truth about what is really going on, her passion ignites and she becomes emotionally invested. As I learn more about climate change and the effect it will have on my life, I definitely become more passionate about it.

I think that Kingsolver is successful in representing true reactions to global warming through her characters. Dellarobia represents the type of people who see that there is a problem, hate the fact that it is happening, but in the end feel like they can do little to actually help it. Then you have Ovid Byron who represents those who are extremely passionate about climate change. He obviously represents the scientists who pour their heart and soul into fixing the issue. Then there is pretty much every other character that represents everyone else. These other characters are quick to write it off as the hand of God, like Hester. Or it just doesn’t fit into what they have believed their entire life, like Cub. I think that these characters accurately portray the different attitudes people have on climate change.

The book ends hopeful, which I think is nice, but also kind of gives a false sense of security. Throughout the book the butterflies symbolize climate change and how everything kind of hangs in the balance. In the end the butterflies fly off to a new world and it is this sort of happy ending. I think that this ending is counterproductive to the whole message of global warming. It is sort of saying ‘hey there is global warming and it’s messing things up, but don’t worry because in the end it will all be okay’, which in reality is not the case. I think that if Kingsolver would have ended the story with something a little more drastic, it would have left the reader with a more realistic understanding of what climate change can do.

Parable of the Sower

I did not know what to expect when I began this book. As I moved through the first several chapters I thought I would essentially be reading a story that was exactly like Earth Abides in that it would simply be a slow, crawling storyline of people trying to survive an apocalyptic scenario. This proved to be dead wrong as the storyline really explodes with amazing detail and vivid storytelling. The book follows Lauren Olamina as she is forced to abandon her life in a semi-safe walled town in California as savages eventually come and rape, murder, and defile her friends and family. She must find her own path in a Road Warrior type world where all social structures and norms have disappeared. Octavia Butler weaves larger topics such as race relations, global warming, pollution, and most importantly, at least in my interpretation, religion in with a sometimes painfully realistic and explicit storyline. I found it quite interesting that the author, in many ways, portrays the protagonist as a religious figure. Beyond becoming a leader of a band of survivors and coming up with her own philosophy and way of seeing God/religion, she also personally feels the pain and pleasure as others around her do. I found this to be one of the most intriguing aspects of the story, as she is essentially one with the people around her. This is not a very good condition to have when the people around you experience nothing but pain and suffering, but because of this condition she cannot help but to impact change around her. This poetically goes right along with one of the main ideas of Earthseed, which is that God is change. This book is a disturbing yet accurate insight into the more animal and sadistic side of human nature. It shows just how fast humans can lose all sense of civility and compassion and return to a barbaric, medieval mind state. Butler’s insight into humanity’s evils holds nothing back. This book is slightly over the top and extreme, but the author raises many important questions that we could, at some point, have to face as a species.

Earth Abides: One Mans Journey towards The Path of Least Resistance

Ish is one of the few survivors of a world ending plague. He awakes in the hospital to a world where civilization has died out and left only scattered pockets of humanity. He must develop and adapt in order to become a leader and establish a new world for humanity. The land must be tamed the communities must be rebuilt and the wilderness that was once only a matter of curiosity must now be battled and tamed. It is one of the most common templates for an epic tale. Ordinary man meets extraordinary circumstance and becomes a hero because he must to survive. Eventually, said hero finds the love of his life in some odd place and they complement each other and allow the slight faults that each shows to be overcome and bring out the best in one and other allowing them both to survive and become better human beings whilst creating a better society.

Well, the thing about Earth Abides is that Ish isn’t necessarily the most heroically minded individual. When Ish meets his moments for extraordinary deeds he just treats them like he’s getting milk from the store. He’s apathetic to a near sociopathic level, treating everything as a thought experiment instead of a reality. He even says that he is an academic and spends most of his time exploring and observing with no real urgency.

Rebuilding Civilization Step 1 ROAD TRIP!!!
Rebuilding Civilization Step 1 ROAD TRIP!!!

Eventually, Ish stumbles into a new civilization and decided that it’s probably a good idea to do some sort of rebuilding/survival related activities. He also gets a wife in that he doesn’t like all that much, debates about whether he should reboot slavery, practices a little bit of eugenics and lets the power, water and pretty much every other useful tool left behind decay and break with the exception of his trusty hammer.

He could use his ecological knowledge to develop a superior society in a world devoid of scarcity that is a blank slate ready to be molded into an environmentally symbiotic wonderland where people and nature are one. He could use his limitless time and resources to read the thousands of books that explain how to maintain and utilize the tools that the world has left behind. He could read books on philosophy and create a society that is fair and devoid of the evils of man.

However, Ish just keeps stumbling along as if he’s working a 9-5 job doing the least amount of work possible.

"I swear if Paul from Accounting sends me one more picture of his dog I'm going to cut his water rations in half."
“I swear if Paul from Accounting sends me one more picture of his dog I’m going to cut his water rations in half.”

Enough to keep everyone alive but nothing more. He attempts to teach the new generation literacy and other academic minded practices but ends up writing off the process and just teaches the one kid that he sort of relates to.

 

Eventually, we come to the end of some trials passed with a solid C- average and Ish hopes that the new civilization will be better than the one left behind. This is the same civilization that Ish could have shaped, taught, and guided. But, he doesn’t concern himself with these things just hopes that things will be better and moves on.

Ish is no hero but he is the perfect protagonist if your goal as a writer is to represent the nature and concerns of humanity during the time period. He relies on what he has and reacts when he must growing accustomed to whatever is left. He hopes things will change as an ideal but doesn’t fight to achieve any of the aspects of the ideal world he sort of imagines. He allows the forces that can take control to do so and basically just lives within those constraints.

The Television Adaptation of Earth Abides
The Television Adaptation of Earth Abides

While the story itself may be dry and boring, the realism of a culture that floats along the surface of a world that seems too powerful to control or affect in any substantial way is a true and unique in the world of fiction. While science fiction writers are known for their social and political satire, they tend to imagine the worst cast scenarios and their books serve as warnings against the evils of mankind and the doom that it heralds. Earth Abides is more scientific realism than fiction and while the action may not be particularly dramatic it’s incites are incredibly interesting.

Climate Changed: All the Fun of an Apocalyptic Quarter Life Crisis

Climate Changed is one of those concepts that plays itself out. The material, the medium, the subject, all move together in the best possible ways: Graphic novel to depict the reality of the situation without seeming hyperbolic, informed/researched topic established and defended against its more vocal opponents, and a story of personal growth and introspection to invest the reader. All the author has to do is load the gun and shot the fish that he’s managed to wrangle up into his barrel.

Pictured Above: Climate Changed's Editing Process
Pictured Above: Climate Changed’s Editing Process

Well, the magic of ego, self-pity, or pessimism managed to knock the gun out of his hand causing it to misfire into an oxygen tank. Now we’re left with a bunch of free fish, the remnants of a promising barrel, a sinking ship, and a cantankerous artist trying to stay afloat. Although, that scenario might be a little too active to be compared to climate changed. Perhaps a better analogy would have the author staring at the barrel for a few hundred pages while he reads about the history of barrel making and ultimately decides that fish are impervious to bullets.

Every brilliant idea in Climate Changed is boiled down into its least palatable state and mashed together with a pessimistic outlook and a disdain towards purpose.

 

The material consists of well-drawn scenarios and informative pages that weave in and out of autobiographical portraits commenting on the book. However, these moments of clarity are drowned in huge walls of text that illustrate various experts explaining the concepts and complexities of global warming and climate change. If the reader is lucky enough they can even experience a few pages of the author drawing himself, thinking about the walls of text, that he has drawn and giving exposition on how it makes him feel. When he’s not reflecting on his own work (that he is in the process of making) he’s introducing the act of him coming up with the idea to do whatever it is he is about to do. The Katrina, Fast Food, and economic portions are fantastic, but the sheer volume of redundancy that separates them makes it almost impossible to read that far into the story.

Any hope that the author had of exploiting the unique venue of graphic novels to create a more satisfying end is lost after the first 100 pages. We get an insightful frame story that shows how little the author (and by proxy the reader) knows about global warming. A solution is made: let’s take the same infographics that we’ve been seeing for years, coupled with the same dry explanations we’ve been ignoring for years, and punctuate them with illustrations of events and consequences that we’ve been sharing and forgetting for years. In the end, we’re left with a compartmentalized collection of the highlights of climate change.

Now if you’re an optimist you’re still hoping that the author is growing as a person and a narrator during his quest for knowledge. I mean he gave us a problem and went into detail about its causes and what needs to be done, he’d have to go out of his way to avoid coming to some sort of conclusion or statement that reflects the past 430 pages of work.

The above image works as both a cover and a plot synopsis
The above image works as both a cover and a plot synopsis

Well optimists you are correct, he indeed does literally go out of his way into a forest atop a remote hill and declares that change is almost certainly an impossibility. He doesn’t see anything that we as individuals can do to help.

Hold on though, this is some postmodern, neo-new artistic type stuff, the ideas and results and content must be layered. Right? I mean who would write a 430-page book about something that is wrong in the world and have no intent or purpose behind it. Maybe he’s commenting on how defeated we are and the problems that this attitude causes? Yeah, that’s it, giant metaphor meant to document the struggle to not act in comparison to the logic of acting towards a solution. Well, maybe that was complex but at least he got us to think and change by creating something he truly believed would help.

Actually, no, the author in a later interview says that he doesn’t believe his book or any form of media can change anything in the world. So, no layers, just a spread out piece of narcissistic sadness printed on 430 pages of ironic former trees.

Possible Alternative Titles: An Inconvenient Truth Part Deux: We’re Pretty Much Screwed

The Time Machine: A Necessary Annoyance

The Time Machine is what happens when a writer attempts to establish a new genre without much of a reference point. The ideas are all there and ready to be arranged, but there’s no guideline to determine what the arranged ideas will do and whether they’ll all work.

The eponymous device is given a clunky explanation that doesn’t make sense if you spend more than 30 seconds thinking about what you just read. . The whole scene is Socrates-lite with 1-dimensional characters constructed to be cannon fodder for the chapter of pure exposition. All we know of them is their professions and whatever robotic responses they have to the “scientist’s” theories on physics. Each new voice says something that allows an easy rebuttal (in this case ‘rebuttal’ means geometric word salad from, a manic man who would have trouble make a vinegar and baking soda volcano.

The idea of Victorian intellectuals gathering to listen to themselves talk about things they half understand is based in reality but I’m skeptical about approx. 4-8 people sharing one brain.

HG Wells was a degree wielding biologist who knew his way around a little bit of Darwin. Which explains the Darwinist views of the Narrator. What isn’t explained is why the narrator’s theories make it seem like he skimmed The Origin of Species on the toilet a couple times. He seems to just blend clumsy misunderstood passages from the book together with some Gulliver’s Travels in the same way that one would blend a cheeseburger and a milkshake.

So we have a protagonist who thinks that 800,000 years ahead is a good beta test for time travel and decides to prepare fewer provisions than a suburban family driving to Orlando. It’s important to note that this man is our only source of information on the complexities and details of an Earth far different than the one we know. So when he informs us on the habits of life forms that he believes used to be human (because um…science?) it’s important to remember that we are dealing with a man who decided ivory embellishments were more important than food or fresh water.

Home Depot Aisle 5: Paint, Drywall, and Time Travel Starter Kits
Home Depot Aisle 5: Paint, Drywall, and Time Travel Starter Kits

However, if we can look past all that, we get a pretty interesting social critique that doesn’t come to any easy conclusions. One race has become communal and placid to near atrophy. The audience isn’t sure why this happens, but we’re told that it may be because of too much relaxation and Jimmy Buffett CD’s or something like that. Combine this with the frame story and you get a nice critique of the upper class and the death of necessity.

Then we get a more primal life form that eats the other guys because apparently no one thought that animals or agriculture should exist, and they need caloric fuel to fiddle with things for no discernable reason.

Then Crabs, followed by a blob and a dying sun that somehow doesn’t burn our protagonist to a cinder.

 

Realistic Dramatization of Earth's Future
Realistic Dramatization of Earth’s Future

So, simple story, social commentary that Jon Swift would find heavy handed, illogical and destructive “genius” protagonist, and a future that makes no sense. One may begin to question why anyone would even own this book. Until they read any book, watch any television show, or catch any movie made about the future in the post-Wells world of art. We’ve added the character development, some plot, and science to the work, but we still used HG’s guide to Sci-fi.

The only reason I feel the need to relentlessly pick on The Time Machine is because praising the ingenuity would be redundant in a world built around the ideas of the book. The idea that technology can go too far, or that it can stop too short wasn’t something people had been writing about and the use of the days technology to great a fantastic tomorrow are revolutionary. The mixture of tradition and modern literature makes for an entirely new experience that is underwhelming because of how successful its offspring have become.

Wells wrote a mediocre book that’s full of extraordinary promises that would later be fulfilled by thousands of other authors.

A Future Not So Bright

Authors and scientists Naomi Oreskes and Erik M. Conway give us a view of what exactly the year 2393 looks like on our planet and the thorough history behind why it does in the science-fiction cli-fi piece, The Collapse of Western Civilization: A View From The Future. It portrays a history, our time, full of denial and unwillingness to do something about the seriousness of climate change. While reading this book, you can’t help but see this type of behavior when looking at our present day society and finding the amount of repudiation about climate change to be immense. It is not till everything begins to fall apart for humanity that we start believing the predictions of the future impacts of climate change to be extremely true and enacting climate projects made years ago. Authors Naomi Oreskes and Erik M. Conway show us what happens when we ignore all the warnings that were presented to us so obviously years and years ago. Our time is the beginning of what is recorded as a “tragic period of human history.” If that phrase about our time on this earth doesn’t send shivers down your spine, then I don’t know what will. This short yet greatly detailed book embodies science-based fiction and history all into a thought-provoking and truly frightening piece. In my own opinion, yes, the science part of this short read does become overwhelming at times. However, overall this book is a good read and definitely does it’s job in shocking the reader with an extremely alarming, yet highly plausible future.

Humanity Abides

The Earth Abides is unlike any other post-apocalyptic novel or story that I have ever read. Many times when you read these types of stories, the author focuses on narrow ideas. Usually the majority of the story revolves around fending off various attackers and simply finding a place to repopulate the Earth while dealing with personality clashes, like in Walking Dead. While George Stewart brings up these concepts, he also focuses on much larger issues and uses the idea of the end of human existence as we know it as a platform to show the reader some of humanity’s flaws, hypocrisies, and injustices. The story begins with the protagonist Ish as he travels throughout America, experiencing a world without humanity. In his journey to discover what life has become, Ish witnesses the ugly side of the human condition after the convenient, organized walls of society come crashing down. He meets a man drinking himself to death, a couple who seem to have gone insane, a fearful woman who ran at the sight of another human, and a couple who still pretend that nothing has changed. Once back in California, Ish and his wife Em form a “Tribe” as they attempt to repopulate the world. Ish states numerous times in the book that he feels like an observer as opposed to a participant in life. He finds himself slipping into the “darkness” as he puts it, until his son Joey is born. Joey is what he had been waiting for, which was someone to continue his line of intelligence. As Joey dies, so does a part of his hope for the future of mankind as humanity resorts back to a more superstitious and simplistic state.

 

The author uses the absence of a regular society to show us some of the hypocrisies that cultures tend to adopt and to take for granted. He highlights racial injustices, issues that arise from organized religion, sexual stereotypes, the importance of reading and education, the impact society has on the environment, in addition to showing just how blind people can become when survival is not a day-to-day concern.

 

Perhaps his most important theme is the insignificance of the human race. This is the first thing I noticed as he talks about the various impacts the lack of humanity has on animals, plants, and the overall x. People tend to think that we have this firm grasp on our environment, but in reality we are just as close to extinction as many of the animals he highlights in the book. This is shown on the page before the introduction with the quote from Ecclesiastes, “Men go and come, but Earth abides.” This is the message that I took away from the book, which is that life on Earth should not be taken for granted. We are a part of life and nature; we do not control them. We get back what we put forth into the Earth. AKA Earth Abides.

 

“Men Go and Come…”

In George R. Stewart’s novel Earth Abides, it follows the main character Ish through a plague-ridden futuristic world. With a large portion of humanity dead and gone, those who survived are left to wonder why they are still on this earth. This novel successfully sucks the reader in from the start where Ish gets bit by a rattlesnake and then once recovered realizes the world is not what it once was. It is now a post-apocalyptic nightmare that Ish and other survivors he meets along the way must endure. It is interesting to see how the animals are impacted by this new world. One animal in particular, a dog later named Princess, becomes Ish’s companion. Ish marries a woman named Em and has children along with the other survivors. They form what they refer to as a “tribe.” Ish is highly concerned with bringing back intellect to future civilization and is heavily reliant on his belief of the the importance of books. It is interesting to see how the initial survivors differ on what they place value on in comparison with their children, whom only know the world for what it is now. They respect Ish’s intelligence immensely and look up to him the most, but they see no point in learning what Ish wants to teach them, such as reading.

The novel shows how truly insignificant humans are in comparison with the world itself. We live as if this earth will be here for us no matter what, but if we keep treating it the way we do it will begin to pick us off. We are the ones who damage it, so in order to remedy the damage, the world needs to get rid of a good percentage of us. Ultimately, this book is a great read for cli-fli lovers and those who have interest in post-apocalyptic scenarios.

I’m A Little Worried Now

Overall though I thought that this book was EXTREMELY successful in educating the reader about climate change in the medium of the graphic novel. The book is a quick read, I finished in about 4 hours. I definitely recommend it to someone who is interested in learning a little about climate change.

Philippe Squarzoni’s book Climate Changes: A personal Journey Through the Science left me slightly depressed. It left me questioning my own life and made me take an honest glance at my future. The book does a wonderful job at taking you through the facts about climate change that isn’t overwhelming. It presents the information in a fun way as a graphic novel. I really enjoyed reading this book and what I am taking away from it.

 

After reading this book I took a step back and really thought about why this book made me feel as bad as it did. It is quiet scary to think about the fact that in only 15 years from now it will be 2030. The fear becomes so much more real knowing that climate change is set to happen in my very near future. It is even more frustrating knowing that the world really isn’t taking this seriously. I feel like the world is slowly inching its way towards that direction, when we need to be sprinting there.

Not only is it going to affect me in my lifetime, but will also be a huge issue that my children, grandchildren, great grandchildren are all going to have to deal with. This is going to heavily impact their lifetime, especially because we are not taking advantage of the little bit of time we have left to do anything about it.

 

Thinking back to The Time Machine, I remembered that I wasn’t emotional effected by what I had read, because it was so far ahead into the future. I knew it wouldn’t affect me or anyone else. It was over 800,000 years versus only 15. After reading this I definitely feel worried about the future.

 

Close to the Edge

Don’t let the thickness of this novel fool you, Climate Changed is a moderate read that engages the reader a great amount through the pages of an informative journey. The author and narrator, Philippe Squarzoni, makes himself relatable and for the most part I believe likable, too. This novel could be thoroughly enjoyed by someone who has a lot of knowledge on the topics of climate change and global warming or none at all. Before starting the book, he explains how he doesn’t have a plethora of information on climate change and global warming himself, so those who don’t know much on the topics gradually learn with him.

I think this graphic novel is supposed to be a warning, but can we even consider it a warning at this point due to how far into climate change dangers we already are? This was one of the things that scared me the most. This piece points a lot of necessary fingers at us because we genuinely deserve it. The structure of society is the biggest problem and contributor. After reading this book, you’re going to look at your own lifestyle and get mad at yourself. Then, you’re going to look at all your friends’ lifestyles and get mad at them too. Then this is where Squarzoni’s notion of the “split personality” comes in. We all want to change the world but we don’t want to change the luxurious way we live now. This novel conveys a strong and important message all while being genuinely entertaining.