Tag: Tobias Buckell

There’s a Hurricane Fever going around and you’d better get used to it

Hurricane Fever is unlike any of the other books that we read this semester. While it has some ties to a number of the other more complex cli-fi books we have read, it is largely a crime novel that focuses on storytelling. My first thought when I started reading the first chapter was that it reminded somewhat of the classic noir crime novels from the 1930’s and 1940’s that revolve around the Sam Spade or James Bond type. It had some of the same dark and gritty qualities that dominate books like Red Harvest and The Maltese Falcon. The aspect that makes these types of novels so gripping is the raw realism and frightening plausibility of the world created by the authors. There is typically nothing particularly deep or intellectual about these types of books, but the storytelling is always attention grabbing. In Hurricane Fever, we follow a retired agent from the Caribbean Intelligence Group who is trying to live a simple life on the waters of the Caribbean so he can raise his orphaned nephew. Much like other books or movies following an agent who tries to retire, the protagonist is in someway or another forced out of retirement to do one last job. In this case, Roo needs to get revenge on the hatchet men/terrorists who murdered his teenage nephew and are trying to start a second black plague. Somehow, however, amongst all the murder, torture, blood and guts the most terrifying part of this book remains the issue of climate change and increased natural disasters.

In this book, climate change was the foundation of the story that is Hurricane Fever, and the focal point is the well-formed plotline and story that follows Roo. But for the sake of this review, seeing as it is the last one I will write for this class, I find myself needing to focus on the climate aspect of the book. This may be due to my personal interests and concerns about climate change, but in my mind while reading this book, the idea of increased climate related natural disasters never left my mind. The implications of this kind of world are horrifying to me and they should be for everyone. Hurricane Fever shows us a world where the domino effect of climate change has ramped up to the point where massive hurricanes are regular occurrences. This is perhaps the most frightening part of climate change that many people do not fully understand or terrifyingly enough choose to ignore, and that is the fact that if we do not curb our increasing use of fossil fuels, natural disasters will become more prevalent and more severe. As we release more carbon into the atmosphere and the temperature of the ocean rises steadily, we will absolutely begin to see more hurricanes because they feed off of warmer water temperatures. The world that Roo lives in may not be something that only appears in fiction novels in the near future. If you look at recent disasters such as the tsunami that hit the Philippines in 2009, you can see that many nations simply do not have the resources necessary to recover from such an event. The Philippines are not a wealthy nation, so can you imagine what would happen to a country such as this if tsunamis started to hit once or twice a year? Even here in America, the wealthiest nation in the world, we are still recovering from Hurricane Katrina, a natural disaster that struck 10 years ago. It is a simple fact that we as humans do not have the capability or the money to deal with such an increase in natural disasters. As humans we truly need to grasp the gravity of the situation at hand, which is that if we do not change our behavior, we may push the world’s climate to a point where humans can no longer survive.

This concept can be overwhelming to some and hard to comprehend, and I found an article that I attached below that I think effectively describes how this pattern works. One of the most eye opening segments is the statistic on the number of hurricanes, tsunamis, draughts, and typhoons that happen during a year and how much they have increased. “According to the EM-DAT, the total natural disasters reported each year has been steadily increasing in recent decades, from 78 in 1970 to 348 in 2004.” The thing about this pattern is that it starts off increasing steadily and then begins to increase exponentially, so in another 30 years one can only imagine how prevalent they will be. I definitely appreciate that books such as Hurricane Fever bring this issue to light. When scientists describe this process, it is easy to get lost in all the numbers and facts, but when an author who has the skill of vivid and artful storytelling it makes it easier for people to wrap their minds around. And in the end this is exactly what the world needs: widespread understanding of the issues we face as a species.




Hurricane Fever Review

Overall, I thought Tobias Buckell’s Hurricane Fever was an okay read. The plot wasn’t extremely complex and was a bit predictable, which isn’t always a bad thing, depending on your mood and what you’re looking for in a book. I didn’t mind guessing what happened next, because it propelled me further throughout the book (i.e. helped me finish it faster). Some of the writing was a bit choppy. Sometimes characters would have whole paragraphs of dialogue without being properly introduced, and other times we’re left to infer what’s going on, when a simple line of exposition could’ve helped connect the dots. Another semi-small part of the book that tripped me up were the mechanics of sailing, since I’m not in any way familiar with it, but luckily that wasn’t the focus. And yes, some parts were cheesy and cliche, but most action novels are, so…

The genetic terrorism, and the racial motive to the plague was an interesting twist. It was like Beauchamp’s twisted version of a racial cleansing, though I’m still confused as to how it only targets people of color, or people with even the slightest amount of melanin. Zee died from it, but it’s repeatedly said that he could pass for white? I read Buckell’s acknowledgements where he said he purposefully left that part out so no crazies would get any funny ideas, but I’m still curious as to how something like this would even succeed.

Roo as a main character still feels like a bit of an enigma to me. And I think it’s because he’s missing some interiority. I get that he’s fueled by vengeance for Delroy, but I feel like his pain is never really addressed? He just jumps in headlong and goes on this kill-or-be-killed mission (and makes SUPER big mistakes) all in the name of his nephew. It’s a valiant effort, but the vengeance arc gets tiring after a while, especially since I think adding some of his feelings would’ve made the reader even more sympathetic for him. Buckell does an excellent job describing the physical pain Delroy is in, but I found that the emotional part was severely lacking about Delroy’s death, about the racial angle of the genetic terrorism, and also about the microaggressions he repeatedly faces from (white) people assuming that he’s the help at all those fancy functions.

One thing that really amazed me were Roo’s resources. I know he was in the CIG, but it’s never really discussed how much he was paid for being a part of it (or maybe I missed that part?). He promises Jacinta heavy metal (did he ever come through on that? If not, God help him). And he also promises Elvin (RIP) three years worth of income and shows him all the gold he has, which he says was a gift. I know there was a book before this one, but I’m still wondering where in the world he’s getting all these resources and money from.

Would love to see this as a movie on the SyFy channel.

Hurricane Fever in Review

I really enjoyed this book. Hurricane Fever is actually a fast paced, well written book. It is full of obvious twists and turns, but it costs a different kind of cli-fi than anything else we’ve read so far. This book did not feature cli-fi as the most prominent aspect of the book, and that made it rather excellent. The writing is not as great as perhaps Kim Stanley Robinson’s writing, but it is very well written for its purpose, it is very interesting. I really like the way that the book is actually a spy novel, not a climate awareness book. This makes it significantly more bearable to read. I think this book is a great ending to a long class full of books that were not always the best. This book definitely tied into the rest of the themes of the class by obviously being about the climate, but also just by being interesting and engaging. This is one of the things that this class really focuses on, how engaging is cli-fi literature? The literature needs to be relatable enough that anyone can read it, but that it makes sense as a work of credibility.

The part about this book that I didn’t like was its predictability. There was nothing about this book that I couldn’t see coming, and I actually found it to be ridiculous at some times. I wish the book had been written by a better writer, then perhaps it would have had more hope as a novel. It is disappointing, and impressive at the same time. I wish that it had been more interesting, but it is what it is.

Fast, Furious, and Lazy

The problem with Tobias Buckell’s Hurricane Fever is that at every little twist and turn, I found myself cynically muttering: “Of course.” Of course the mysterious Kit is never who she says she is. Of course there’s a character named Katrina in a novel about hurricanes. Of course Roo’s nephew, Delroy, dies. (His barely fleshed out character could never have been more than an awkward third-wheel). Of course Roo is an ex-spy with a lust for revenge and nothing left to lose. Of course Beauchamp cannot stop calling Roo “Mr. Jones.” Of course Beauchamp has a maniacal evil plan that would actually be pretty scary if it was not so ridiculously cartoonish. Of course his henchmen are all neo-nazi goons. (Oh wow, mild foreshadowing! They remind me of something like this.) Of course whenever Roo’s luck seems to have just run out, Kit magically appears to save the day. (Hey, at least there’s a feminist angle in there somewhere, right?). Of course every other chapter is a near cliff-hanger. (Spoiler alert: everything is, of course, always fine.)

Okay, okay… I know what you are probably thinking: “Why do you have to be such a hater, Alessandro?” Fair enough. Maybe (definitely) Hurricane Fever is not my cup of tea. Thrills for the sake of thrills do not excite me. I prefer novels that are slower and more pensive, and even when Hurricane Fever’s 100mph narrative winds do manage to suck me in, I still cannot look past the shallowness of it all. I am not asking for realism, and Buckell sure as hell is not providing any, but is it so much to ask more interesting characters?

As far as reading the novel for its cli-fi setting goes, there is not that much new material worth looking at. Yeah, climate change is there. Constant hurricanes are the new normal. Some islands have sunk. True, there is nothing wrong with the anti-drama of it. Buckell may even be on to something by planting these scenarios into the backgrounds of our consciousness, making us more aware without realizing it. With so many guns, and explosions, and cheesy plot twists, however, will anyone really have the attention span to care about the climate change?