Michael Bay Presents, In Association with John Woo, Hurricane Fever-Cruise Control

Hurricane Fever is one of the largest literary disappoints I’ves suffered through in a long while. To be clear, the book is perfectly acceptable, action oriented, fast paced, and the setting and plot are solid if not exceptional in some parts. The focus on more action driven, pragmatic characters even manages to shield the novel from the preachy exposition of most other climate related works. The Caribbean setting and the boat centric travel of the book, show a world that is both geographically and socially adapted to a new climate which brings me to the disappointment.

This is how all climate related literature should start .
This is how all climate related literature should start .

Everything in this book is palpable and vibrant. The land masses the movements, even the buildings are easily internalized and projected, allowing the reader to place the characters in an environment that feels natural. With all of this close and intricate detail any well written character could be made fascinating with minimal effort. The smallest amount of personality would echo off of each new situation eventually filling the space with one phrase that is large enough to carry that character’s existence within the story. Basically, any regular character can be made interesting by this world. Even one note character would be memorable due to an infinite amount of unknowable changes and situations that can be provided by the book’s universe.

Sadly, the characters of Hurricane Fever sort of miss the singular note they were intended to play and become either plot fodder or props. I didn’t feel anything towards any of the book’s central figures, I didn’t hate them, I didn’t like them; they weren’t unique, bad, or funny. They were just words, descriptions without any emotion. Normally, I hate exposition, or long breaks in the plot where the characters spend hours discussing the most boring aspects of their lives as a means to be accessible, but Hurricane Fever needed something endearing to happen and for sincerity to result.

Artist's Rendition of Every Character In this Book
Artist’s Rendition of Every Character In this Book

The Year of the Flood- Joining Cults Is Fun Except for the Brainwashing

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Is it possible to be a benevolent and powerful leader? Does acting against something evil automatically make the actions themselves good? When we rebuild from rubble to sky while we use the same designs. These are my mild Atwood induced philosophical questions. The Year of the Flood, from its title to one of its most memorable characters, floats in allegory. /

The question that keeps gnawing at my brain is how much freedom is there in religion and how much freedom can we give it? If the routine and life of a garden and a charismatic leader allow you to fend off the pain of everything else and provide you with both security and perceived safety do the sources’  intention matter? And most importantly, does a man’s allegiance fall to his kin or to his god. It’s the idea of separation and individualism that strikes me about both religion and by extension Atwood’s The Year of the Flood.

 

It is my belief that the Atwood doesn’t think that the God’s Gardeners are to be ridiculed. They are people facing an unbelievable challenge by trying to structure their world in some way. Adam One is a man who believes that he is providing this structure by means of divinity. However, there is no question of who is in charge and whose views are to be agreed with, so the structured area becomes more sanitarium than sanctuary. The religious answers become doctrine, and sentiments of caring become lessons and warnings.

Now the themes of religion, influence, and maturing may seem better suited to a low-budget indie film, but they are the backbone of the climate debate. More accurately they are the reason that we are having a debate about a fact as if will power can change physics. The immediate des ri

Adam One is obviously a descendant of the incredibly conservative Kebler Elves
Adam One is obviously a descendant of the incredibly conservative Kebler Elves

community, and acceptance creates a vacuum of doubt and defensiveness. In a way our cult is one of denial, many of us worry about our immediate goals and them. We build our arks to transport only our ideals. However, we build arks with mud because we despise the effort of fashioning wood and why we can’t argue our boats afloat.

A Storm is Approaching

When first starting Hurricane Fever I couldn’t help but laugh due to the fact that two characters you meet in the beginning chapters are named Roo and Seneca which just happens to be two characters from the movie The Hunger Games. Straying from that, I felt that Hurricane Fever was definitely one of the best books we read this semester. I thought Tobias S. Buckwell was successful in his efforts in creating an engaging, action-packed thriller with the seriousness of climate change constantly on the back burner, never fizzing out and being a constant issue in the story-line. Hurricane Fever is definitely a simple and quick read. I felt that the only parts of the story that generally confused me were one, being able to visualize the exact locations of the characters and two, being able to visualize his boat Spitfire. Ultimately I guess that just comes back to my own lack of knowledge of the Caribbean Islands and boats in general, but it still would of been nice to have better descriptions in the story. Overall, compared to the some of the other novels we read this semester such as The Collapse of Western Civilization, it was refreshing to read a book that was written in more a simplistic fashion that focused on intensity in the sense of action rather than overwhelming and often confusing science.

We follow Roo, an ex secret agent for Caribbean Intelligence, on an engaging adventure to get down to the bottom of his ex partner and friend Zee’s murder. Before this we are informed that Roo lives a simple life and has no family except for his nephew Delroy. All of this changes when he receives a call from “beyond the grave” from Zee informing Roo of his death and what Roo now needs to do. I found this book to just overall be fun and entertaining. It was pretty much the only book this semester that I truly could not put down. I personally feel that this book would benefit greatly as an action-packed film.

I’m Not Really Feeling The Fever

After finishing Hurricane Fever I have to say that this book was just…okay. I think it was an interesting, fast paced, action packed book that left me only slightly entertained. It felt more like a movie and less like a book. I found myself enjoying the overall story, but I also wanted more details overall. After reading posts from other people I can see that they really enjoyed that it was a story that wasn’t focused on climate change, but I found that I really wanted there to be more on climate change. The most important issue that the book discussed about climate change was the increasing amount of storms that they faced.

What I found to be interesting was the way that the characters were handling the climate change, especially in countries that were practically underwater. One of the more common facts about climate change that people know about is the rising water levels and how parts of countries will be under water. I thought it was interesting that in the book these countries still tried to survive and make life work in these areas that are halfway underwater and constantly hit with storms.

One thing that I really did like about the book was the fact that the book was set in the future, but it still felt like a world that I could understand and relate to.  I also like the futuristic and upgraded things in the book, like the concrete houses to brave the storm, the quick healing first aid kits, and the wet suits that help people survive in the water. I thought these were really awesome touches to the story that made it futuristic, but still keep it grounded in a world that I recognize.

Overall this was not my favorite book, but I think it was successful in creating a realistic version of the world after climate change.

The Year of the Flood

I have to say, leading up to this week, I had never read anything by Margaret Atwood. At first, I found her writing style to be somewhat confusing as the jumpy nature of her narration was slightly difficult to grasp in the beginning, but after about 50 pages I was able to jump right into the story. Much like some of the other books we have read this semester, the author jumps around from character to character. However, unlike all the other books we have read she leans heavily on the use of flashbacks as to allow the reader to get a fuller understanding of the characters. I found her writing style to be interesting, as I personally have never encountered an author who is able to jump from perspective to perspective while shifting time periods, and then effectively weave the stories together. From a literary standpoint, it is quite impressive. While this book did not stand out to me more than The Windup Girl, it is still nearly impossible for the reader to forget the characters and the world that Atwood creates, and in many ways this is the sign of a talented author.

 

The story mainly follows two women Toby and Ren in a dystopian world where corporate greed has destroyed the environment (thanks Gordon Gecko). Greed is good? Well apparently it is not in Margaret Atwood’s world. I think one of the most powerful aspects of this book is Atwood’s take on corporations. The companies in this book that do disgusting and unspeakable things comically parallel many corporations that we have today. Much like other effective works of science fiction, Atwood is critiquing and describing the world that we live in by simply giving things different names and making it clear to the reader that the story takes place in the future. Much like The Windup Girl, the effectiveness of the book comes from giving the reader just enough detail so that they can create the world in their own mind. Our main characters are members of an environmental cult/movement that correctly predicted an incoming waterless flood. Their preparedness for this plague allows them to be among the few who survive. I found that the book dragged at certain points, but, again, similar to The Windup Girl the part that made even the boring parts interesting was just how established and believable Atwood’s world was.

 

I really did not expect to like this book, but there is something indescribable about it that seems to stay with you. She supplies the reader with a powerful message, and I think she successfully conveys the selfish manner in which humans live on this planet. I am sure that many would say that she is simply another hippie liberal that loves trees, animals, and the environment, but she does make many eye opening points that in my mind cannot be argued. I definitely connected with the book, and I would certainly recommend it to people.

Are We Headed Down This Road?

The Windup Girl was a little bit of a struggle to get through. The book starts and you are thrust into a world that isn’t the easiest to understand right off the bat. At first you have no concepts of when the book is taking place or what has happened that has led to the current events. It doesn’t help that the characters change from chapter to chapter. I did like that you got to know each of the important characters through their own stories and see how their social statuses effected their stories. Each character came from a different type of background, from Anderson being the rich white guy who is considered a foreign devil to Emiko who is a genetically designed new person. It’s interesting to see how the social structure plays a large role in the story. The rich still have the power to control the poor and make money off of their suffering. I think that it was also interesting to see that all of the characters were corrupt in some sort of way. By writing from several characters’ perspectives, the book is able to show the story from every perspective, rather than painting just one person as the bad guy. While reading it I found myself disliking something about almost every character.

The thing that I really did like about the book was how you got to see life after the largest horrors had passed. It was a way to see life after they were dealing with the effects of climate change. The genetically modified food, animals and people were intriguing ideas of a possible future. We are constantly trying to modify foods to meet our needs. It brings up compelling ideas monopolizing food companies controlling the world. We already see hints of that in the world today with companies like Monsanto. I think the book paints a very realistic possibility when it comes to these large money hungry companies. I think that book really shows the lengths that these companies are willing to go to make money.

Overall I wasn’t the biggest fan of this book, but I didn’t hate it. It had some interesting moments that made me really think about the future in the book is a road that the world could possibly head down

Forty Signs of Rain: Too Real for Its Own Good?

I wouldn’t say that Forty Signs of Rain is a genre-blending book, but that’s only because I’m not sure I could define the exact elements of each genre involved and where blending occurs. It is a story that rests in its own category and presents a realistic portrait of it’s characters and arcs without following any strict stylistic rules.

Sometimes, this lack of constraints ends up hurting the novels literary pursuits. The plot stalls at some points and jumps abruptly to others. Frank seems to be confused about whether he is an emotionally attached observer or a passionate activist and while this makes sense in the context of human complexity it makes it hard to identify with him. Anna and the rest of the characters all seem to behave similarly, they’re passionate about the research they do, the change they want to see, and the dangers that may occur, but they are always composed to some degree.

The behavior makes sense and the homogenous personalities also seem fitting for a group of people with shared goals and interests. It is realistic and even intuitive and that’s the problem. Characters sometimes take drastic measures (repelling from rooftops and tracking down women that they barely know) but these measures are methodical. If the characters were given dramatized personalities that differed from each other, the book may have seemed a little more cohesive and the pacing may have been more natural and intuitive.

Character consistency does help the plot in a lot of ways that make the themes more prominent and the actual events more tangible. The hard science of the novel and the detached nature of it’s scientists show the problems that the real world has with climate-related policy. The people who are most aware of the dangerous consequences are unable to bend and sacrifice their analytical methods. While, the opposition is untethered to rigor and validity and able to use rhetoric and manipulation in ways that the scientific community either can’t or won’t.

The problem is that we have no idea what the exact outcome of our excess will be and all of our warnings are given theoretically and without the full conviction and vigor that is consistent with today’s political arguments. There is little poetry in the explanations of atmospheric damage and rising sea levels. We aren’t moved to action because we haven’t felt fright or dread on an emotional level. We know what will happen and why we should change, but that kick of pure instinct just hasn’t happened.

Frank would most likely agree with all of the above sentiments which is one of the reasons that I really like the book and don’t consider it’s narrative roadblocks as true mistakes. It is the book that it needs to be and while this approach may not yield the best literature or the most effective tool of propaganda, it makes for a cohesion on an intellectual level that the genre of science fiction needs.

Forty Signs of Rain: Effective Boredom

             Forty Signs of Rain is a clearly well written novel about the scientific/ political landscape through which the issue of climate change must navigate. As far as my knowledge goes, this is a very realistic and scarily plausible account of what could happen in real life. As I read this book, I could not tell if it was intended to be a warning or simply a story told by a concerned author. Kim Stanley Robinson’s ability to combine plot, character development, and science is quite effective. In many instances, people who do not have much prior knowledge about climate change can be put off by overly scientific language. I cannot say that I disagree; often times scientific literature can be as interesting as reading an Ikea instruction manual. In many ways, books such as Forty Signs of Rain are exactly what the scientific community and the regular population needs. People need a solid blend of relateableness and raw facts. Robinson begins each chapter with a page or two of scientific information before continuing with the story. We get to know and like a wide array of people who have some sort of presence in the scientific/environmental field. In my opinion, this is the vessel that may potentially get people to the destination of understanding the seriousness of climate change. It can be truly difficult to describe this phenomenon because in reality we cannot know which forms it will take. It is because of this that the climate deniers can poke holes in the issue. They can say “see, even the experts don’t know what will happen.” This is exactly the kind of short sighted, simplistic mind state that is preventing us from achieving any progress. While it is true that we do not know how climate change will play out, we do know that it will affect the overall climate of Earth. In many cases people confuse the idea of climate with weather, when weather is really just a part of the overall climate. When people talk about impacting the climate, they are talking about how as humans we are directly influencing the very fragile chemical and systematic equilibrium of the Earth. The Earth in essence is its own living entity, and when you alter one aspect of it, say the chemical composition of the atmosphere, this throws out the overall balance, which can in turn affect weather, pressure patterns, overall temperatures, oceanographic flows, and many, many other aspects. In a way, the climate is like an ecosystem in that if an outside party does something to one particular species, it disrupts its entire dynamic. While impacting our climate is a rather broad and somewhat incomprehensible idea in and of itself, through books like Forty Signs of Rain we can all picture how it will affect everyone’s lives when the planet as we know it is out of balance. Forty Signs of Rain describes one such possibility, which is that eventually we will be forced to face extreme weather events, and this is an inevitable result of climate change. This is something that we are already seeing. While the book is set in the near future most likely, we are already starting to see such events.

I think that Kim Stanley Robinson wrote a very effective book. His point definitely gets across to the reader by the end. I do think, however, that it could have been about 200 pages shorter. After I finished reading the first 200 pages for class last week, my first thought was, geez, I just read 200 pages of a book and absolutely nothing happened. I truly thought if someone asked me what was the book about I could not have come up with an answer. From those first 200 pages, I think he talked about Anna’s breast milk and Charlie getting Joe to drink it more than anything else. I couldn’t for the life of me think of how this served any purpose to the overall story. Part of me wanted Kim to be a female author to reduce this level of oddness. Nonetheless, Kim turned it around in the second half. You realize that by the end, all of the boring droning done by Charlie and other characters was simply to illustrate how these things work in Washington. If one has a passion for a certain topic or issue he or she must do a bunch of horribly boring and tedious work to get any type of progress. I think that democracies such as ours are able to pass some truly evil bills and suspicious legislation because it is masked by dry, old politicians droning in what they would claim to be English but resembles more 18th century legal language on the CSPAN network. Most people could watch a politician try to pass a ban on breathing, and not even know that its happening let alone stay awake long enough to hear them say more than two sentences. I think that in the end Robinson created an interesting and realistic work. I also think that he is taking the stance that something terrible must happen first in order for people to care, but as a student studying this, I like to remain more hopeful in that we can take some real action soon.

The Scientist: A Realistic Hero

Kim Stanley Robinson is clearly an intelligent person filled with brilliant ideas as well as a skilled author and it shows immensely in his novel Forty Signs of Rain. However, I feel that the length of this novel was almost unnecessary. Robinson could have cut out a significant amount from Forty Signs of Rain and he still would have been able to successfully convey all of his key points concerning climate change, science and politics. With that being said, this novel is generally slow-moving and it honestly took me some time to actually become intrigued. The true action portion of the novel doesn’t come till close to the end.

As for the characters, I really enjoyed that Anna’s husband, Charlie, was portrayed as a stay-at-home dad and worked from home. That is definitely something you don’t see very often. Anna herself is primarily focused on throughout the novel. She is overall a likeable character but I feel that most importantly she is relatable which adds to the notion of realism portrayed in this novel. Anna is depicted as the “ordinary hero” who can take on the tasks of being a scientist as well as a mother. Her colleague, Frank, takes the cake for being the most unlikable characters of the bunch who comes off as offensive most of the time. Ultimately, I feel that a majority of people who read Forty Signs of Rain will be anxious to continue the series.

Fight or Flight

 

 

Flight Behavior earns its name, whether it’s the housewife, Dellarobia, running towards a new man, the monarchs flying to a new home, or the comment on social class when poor Appalachian women is told to help the environment by flying less.

While the butterfly migration stands out as the frequent flyer, it is important to remember the other definitions of the word flight, the more fitting description of flight in the context of the fight, Flight can be an escape from the confines of unrelenting and imminent disaster.

Dellarobia flees her husband when her husband becomes or is recognized as an inescapable force of benign intent but infuriating character. She can see no other way to salvation besides the first one she finds and in her desperation marches towards an ill-advised affair. He monarchs face an unknown and changed weather that leads them to one area of safety, they have no idea that they’ve committed to death and believe that the path that they’ve taken will save them.

Civilization faces a similar problem. Many of us feel the hunger pains and search for the first sign of food without thinking of the consequences. When those pains are no longer there; we still remember them vivid as day. We also remember that the world can make you hungry again, we’ve seen or been the victim of a closed factory an outsourced department. The hunger is always there and the fear of that life is a prison.

Telling civilization to endure hunger and work to prevent something that we do not know seems reasonable when that hunger is for a new car or a new house. But, the hunger to keep the crumbling house together, the hunger of choosing whether stealing is justified if it’s to feed your child, those we can feel. How do you explain to someone that they need to vote against a new factory and a consistent income in favor of clean air that they’re too anxious to enjoy?

Flight Behavior brings the beauty of the temporary salvation into the conversation on climate change; it shows the reasoning behind our sins and the ignorance that caused them, along with the fear of losing everything. Then it shows the truth behind our fears. We’re running from an attack and into a busy street. We will hunger and hurt, but if we do not, we will not survive.