Sunday, March 18, 2012

Chilling sci-fi novel about 'global heating' good summer read

I have seen the future and it's dank, dark and dystopic. At least in one sci fi author's eyes, it is.

When veteran sci-fi writer Jim Laughter sat down last summer to start
in on a new novel about mankind's
shaky future on this third rock from the sun, he wasn't sure where the
book was actually going, he
said. Seven months later, after typing out each chapter of
"Polar City Red" on his computer keyboard, Laughter, 59, was finished
and ready to
face critics on the right and on the left. Climate denialists are
going to say it's not science,
and die-hard climate activists are going to say it's just fiction.

Rick Perry's not going to read, that's for sure. Neither will Rick
Santorum or other national politicians
with their heads in the sand. But Laughter's book could make a cool
movie in the future dystopia department,
following up on such Hollywood films as "City of Ember" and "The Road."

Laughter's pulp "polar western" is set in the Last Frontier and it poses a very
important and headline-mirroring question: will mankind
survive the coming climapocalypse coming our way
as the Earth heats up over the next few centuries?
As sea levels rise and millions of "climate refugees" make their way
north to Alaska, Canada,
Russia and Norway, think scavenger camps, Mad Max villages, and
U.N.-administered ''polar cities'' -- cities of domes, as Laughter
(his real name)
calls them.

"Polar City Red" is more than mere sci fi: a retired USAF
technical writer who has lived all over the world on military
assignments, the retired grandfather of four comes across as a probing
moralist and a modern
Jeremiah. His worldview befits a Christian pastor who has built two
churches and finds
in religion both an anchor and a place for hope.

His book is not just about climate change or northern dytopias. It's
also about the moral questions that must guide humanity as
it tries to keep a lid on global warming's worst-case scenarios while
also looking for solutions to mankind's worst nightmare -- the
possible final extinction of the human species due to man's own folly
and extravagant ways. Can a small 200-page book do all that? No, it's just
entertainment, a good book to put on your summer reading list.

Writing the novel took Laughter seven months of non-stop research
and keyboarding, he told me, but I have a feeling that what he wrote
will last 100 years.
It's more than a cli-fi thriller. It also exposes
the underbelly of humankind's most terrifying nightmare: the
possible end of the human species and God's deep displeasure at what His people
have done to His Earth. Even if you're an atheist, as I am, Laughter
touches a nerve.

The book is prophetic, futuristic and moralistic. You
as reader will get through this one alive, but will our descendants, 100 or 1000
years from now, survive the Long Emergency we find ourselves in now? That's the
question that Laughter poses.

Fortunately, the book ends on a note of hope and redemption, so it's not a
downer at all. You and your loved ones need to read it. As Laughter
himself says in the introduction, quoting Christopher
Morley: ''When you sell a man a book you don't sell just twelve
ounces of paper and ink and glue -- you sell him a whole new life."

"Polar City Red," which I just read in a preview copy, won't give
you a whole new life, and it'll probably just give you a headache and heartburn.
I would not advise Rick Perry to read it.

No comments: