When a book producer and book packager asked me if I could review Jim Laughter's new cli fi book POLAR CITY RED, I said ''sure, send me a copy and I will review for the paper here, probably in August or September, when I have the time''. So Jim sent me a copy of the novel here in Alabama, I confirmed I received it in the mail, and would read it and review it for the paper before the end of the year, if my way busy schedule permitted it, and here is my review:
Global Heating Novel 'Polar City Red' Not For Everyone, But I Enjoyed It Immensely:
IT'S THE FUTURE! AND A TERRIFIC READ!
I have seen the future and it's dank, dark and dystopian. At least in
one Oklahoma author's eyes, it is. Alaskans need to read this book
with care and concern.
When veteran sci-fi writer Jim Laughter sat down last year 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.
Seven months later, after typing 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.
Sarah Palin is not going to read it, that's for sure. Neither will
Mitt Romney 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 of Alaska
in 2075 and it poses a very important and headline-mirroring question:
will mankind survive the 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. Laughter is a retired USAF
technical writer who has lived all over the world on military
assignment. 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 dystopias. 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" won't give you a whole new life, and it'll probably
just give you a headache and heartburn. But Alaskans might benefit
from reading it, since
it's about Alaska front and center, as the world heats up.
David K.L. Jones is a freelance writer in Alabama.