Saturday, February 28, 2009

Morality in the time of Climate Collapse

This is a review of Far North by Marcel Theroux, posted on Amazon.

The future as imagined by James Lovelock. The great heat has come and global civilisation has crashed. The utopian-religious back-to-nature settlements in the Siberian arctic, the setting of this novel, were over-run by refugees from the south, followed by arctic winter depopulation. The protagonist, Makepeace, guards a frozen, deserted town with guns at the ready.

This novel explores a journey across the continent which encompasses pitiless ethnic tribes, slavers, labour camps and a general assortment of intrinsically unpleasant characters and decent people gone bad. The character of Makepeace is the moral centre of this story, but morality has been reduced to the correct choice of tough, lethal decisions.

The book held my attention all the way through, while not being quite a page-turner. If the author’s targets were the general nastiness of the human condition without the framework of a functioning state, and the bankruptcy of pacifistic religions, then I think we can agree that the case here is closed. But these are not difficult targets.

My other quibble – it is no more than that – is that the plotting seems to depend on too many unlikely events: suspension of disbelief did waver a few times.

In summary, I think Far North is fine as a library book, but I’m not sure I’d recommend buying it.