Novel 'O Man of Clay.' After sea-level rise.

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County Durham, United Kingdom
'O Man of Clay,' set in Hartlepool and Siberia in the near future while the tundra is thawing and the sea level rising, was published in January 2020 by Stairwell Books.

Thursday 19 March 2020

'Border 7' by Pauline Kirk

Compelling, chillingly plausible and a cracking good read if you like your English dystopia authentic and local and with a touch of Zamyatin and Orwell. I thought I spotted Manchester and York though am willing to be corrected –  while the capital retains its name. Certainly the North of the book has resonances with its own former border history and reiving past and with the strength and courage of the those deemed to live in the outer reaches: those who, apparently, need pacifying and containing.
In an England hundred and fifty years hence, government and democracy hardly exist and Corporations have taken control by offering apparent freedom after the deposing of the Junta. The miles high sky-scraping blocks are run as self-contained and all-encompassing microcosms for the benefit of the companies that own them. Conformity is demanded and maintained with the threat of the world of warlords and chaotic subsistence-level living outside.
However, it seems, the propaganda inside the 'refuges' conceals what is actually going on. Jude is a great central character and the story of her journey and the cast of characters she meets kept me reading. Will her self-determination and independence of spirit survive the odds stacked against her?

Tuesday 17 March 2020

Spring 2020

This was my poem published in Dream Catcher, 29.
Things have moved on since then.

To May, late under cloud

Reading the news, I watch through the window
how you sit up, shake your hair, slough peat slag
over breasts, between thighs; overslept,

blowzy ladies smock in the sump of your pit.
Here, a sexton beetle, dislodged from your nostril
where bees buffet musk of catkins, finds carrion.

Your bush, untamed thicket of thorn beyond
my fence, spikes spare blossom as you stretch,
arms high, dripping slow-worms from your fingers

and yawn wide-mouthed after a long sleep.
Later, digging, I hear a lone cuckoo; back from across
the Sahara, it slips an egg in your nest of hair.

Yet, though I blunder, astonished at the snipe
wooing his mate with a whoop of feather-fanning
(your belly laugh), still, I hear you blub at the loss

of beetle and moth, bereft but for orange tips
foraging the margins of my vegetable patch.
And when you lurch, drunk, over the mill lade,

frock rucked, spilling intoxicating may,
your navel does not glisten with nectar, you who
stumble a wind’s blow away where ash is dying.

News is, you broke into a lab, stole a fungal spray
for Chalara Fraxinea but it is sour, cramps your gut
and, so they say, you may not now, conceive.

  Eliza Mood      

Coming Soon to a Blog Near You: Hartlepool Hubs how a library became known as a 'shelf by the fireplace'

David Millar The Ministry for Ignoring Climate Change

Set on an island off the West coast of Canada and in Ottawa, this novel is a fictionalisation of a still-controversial geoengineering project. A Canadian cross between ‘Yes Minister’ and ‘Whiskey Galore’ but with bigger, climate-affected fish to fry, it is an antidote to current enforced self-isolation and makes the argument for community action to combat climate change. Though its satire is gently mocking, make no mistake, there are claws here. All human nature is exposed in the world of the city and the tiny island community eking out an existence on the edge. Pieter Breugel the Elder would approve the panoply of characters. Though the jury is out on the science, the implications of words and actions of politicians with a tenuous understanding of their effect on lives outside their bubble, are chillingly, if darkly humorously, portrayed.

The fast pace and cast of characters of all shades of green and those not even faitly reminiscent of it, motivated by degreess of self interest on a sliding scale from justifiable to wholly unjust and unforgiveable alongside the increasingly frenetic twists and turns would make a great movie too. Naturally, 'Whiskey Galore' for the climate crisis came to mind.

Wednesday 11 March 2020

Saci Lloyd The Carbon Diaries

Yeah. Diary structure. Good idea: charting the first year of carbon rationing as the fractures in a family appear, repair, widen, heal. Not aimed at my age group. Cross generational characters but seen through the eyes of a teenager. It took time but the characters grew on me. And there's nought like catastrophe for people pulling together. Read it in an episodic way as life-stuff was intruding: indulged in others lives falling apart. Gives a sense of how individuals might play things: find out who they really are in the midst of the political attempts to restore normality or introduce a new normal. Did Saci Lloyd pull it off? I think so.

What's Happening?

  26th October 2021 Under dark pines. Candletuft fungus struck the match. Gold and red crisp packet deeper in, lit the gloom. Stumbled on a ...

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