What do you think of the cover for City of Ice and Dreams?

I’m so excited to show you the brand new cover for City of Ice and Dreams, the second full-length novel in my dystopian thriller series, Tales From A Warming Planet. I’d also like to offer you an Advance Reading Copy of the novel, available free and securely through Instafreebie and Bookfunnel. Download now!

book cover

Here’s the new cover for my next novel, City of Ice and Dreams.

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Download from Instafreebie

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Download from Bookfunnel

City of Ice and Dreams is scheduled for release February 1, 2018. Here’s the blurb for the novel:

What if the key to your past lay at the South Pole? In 2261, Sento, a beautiful, intelligent, tormented young woman, is obsessed by Isorropia, a city in Antarctica that is half-myth, half-legend. Surviving a shipwreck, Sento resolves to trek south with immigrants on a suicidal one-way journey across the melting ice. She leads the pilgrims across a raging river, weeps beneath a massive natural sculpture draped with blue ice, and defends an endangered fur seal. Meanwhile, in the secretive city, First Citizen Elita Soares watches the growing threat of the pilgrim train. She wants no more climate refugees within the city walls. When Elita learns her half-sister may be among the immigrants, she vows to stop the newcomers at all costs. Will the pilgrims reach the fabled city before Antarctica’s harsh climate kills them? And why is Elita afraid of her half-sister?

I’d like to thank my designer Christian Bentulan for his wonderful work. He also designed the covers for the first and second books in the series, The Mother Earth Insurgency, and Carbon Run. Check out the great reviews for both books on Goodreads and Amazon.

Thank you so much for all your support of my series. Look for more announcements soon on City of Ice and Dreams, as well as deals and giveaways for my other work. And there’s still another novel to come in the spring of 2018. Whew!

Comment on my book covers below.

Overheated: A weak narrative undercuts the urgency of climate change

Overheated cover

Overheated: The Human Cost of Climate Change

Climate change is one of the most difficult subjects to tackle, and I admire any writer who attempts it. Though the reality of climate change is not in doubt—repeat, NOT in doubt—so much of its impact is speculative. Scientists can predict the rise of sea levels, the melting of Arctic and Antarctic ice, more powerful hurricanes, and so on, but no one can say with certainty how these will affect humanity in any detail.

In Overheated: The Human Cost of Climate Change, Andrew Guzman takes his best shot. The University of California, Berkeley law professor tries to show how global warming will change the lives of practically everyone on the planet. Clearly worried about the power of denialists, led by President Donald Trump (though the book was written before his election), he answers each of the counter-arguments with unassailable rigor. If this were an argument before a judge and jury, he’d win going away.

Unfortunately, that’s the problem with this 2013 book, and many books like it. With a couple of notable exceptions, he offers few anecdotes or detailed speculations on climate change effects you and I might experience. The best story concerns the Chacaltaya Glacier, which disappeared from a Bolivian mountain in 2009. He also offers an alarming scenario involving disputes over water between two nuclear powers: India and Pakistan. Beyond these, however, much of the future impact of warming is theoretical. Writing about the potential for water wars, he says, “[C]limate change threatens to magnify existing risks, perhaps making the difference between an uncomfortable peace and a shooting war.” It’s hard for average folks to get excited about these unseen margins. Continue reading

Dammit. Now we have to deal with the “alt-climate.” And they’re going to be in the White House.

Commander-In-Chief, Denier-In-Chief Meme

President-elect Donald Trump has picked Scott Pruitt to head the EPA. Pruitt is a climate change skeptic and part of what I call the “alt-climate.”

Donald Trump believes that climate change is a “hoax” perpetuated by China, and his pick to lead the Environmental Protection Agency, Scott Pruitt, will be his hatchet man. Oklahoma’s attorney general has pooh-poohed climate science, arguing that the lack of 100 percent agreement among scientists that climate change is human-caused is evidence that they might all be wrong. It’s not only twisted logic, but it’s scientifically ignorant. Disagreement is how science moves forward; it doesn’t indicate a failure to understand what’s happening.

First we had to deal with the “alt-right.” Now we have to deal with what you could call the “alt-climate,” deniers who’ll roll back desperately needed efforts to combat climate change, the biggest existential threat to humanity since… never.

Alt-climate, a noun referring to a group of delusional idiots in loose agreement that climate change is a hoax, unreal, or false.

Pruitt’s friendliness toward the oil and gas industry in Oklahoma is probably the best indication of how he’ll treat climate change. He’s one of the leaders of a lawsuit aimed at rolling back regulations meant to curb carbon dioxide emissions in the atmosphere. Whether the regs might “kill” jobs is irrelevant if we reach a point where having a job is a luxury because the earth is toasted by global warming.

Scott Pruitt isn’t the only Trump pick who’s skeptical of climate change. The “alt-climate” cabal in Trump’s cabinet, according to an excellent analysis by independent news site Climate Central, includes Stephen Bannon, who views climate change as a “con,” Reince Priebus, who has slammed the respected Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Jeff Sessions, who repeats debunked research denying increases in global temperatures, and Mike Pompeo, who has called the Paris Agreement a “radical climate change deal.”

I don’t mean to suggest that deniers are racists like those in the “alt-right.” However, they exhibit a similar post-truth attitude toward the fact of rising global temperatures and its impact on the planet. No one wants white supremacists in government, but we’re getting deniers instead.

Worse, apologists for Team Trump have already tried to wrap their reactionary threats with environmentally friendly rhetoric, saying Trump wants to keep the nation’s air and water clean, just not so much. Their real targets are activists on the “environmental left,” presumably bomb throwers such as the Sierra Club and Ducks Unlimited. Don’t be fooled. The greens will soon be under attack by policy-makers who prefer black gold to a healthy planet.

Update: Trump has named Montana Republican Rep. Ryan Zinke as his Secretary of Interior. Zinke’s stand on human-caused climate change is unclear, or even on climate change in general, saying that “something is going on.” However, he is not well-liked by climate activists.

Earlier reports said Trump wanted Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, also a Republican, as his nominee. However, she will stay in the House of Representatives. McMorris Rodgers is opposed to greenhouse gas regulations, and she has denied humans have anything to with climate change. “Scientific reports are inconclusive at best on human culpability of global warming,” McMorris told a newspaper in her Washington State district.

What do you think of the idea of an “alt-climate?”

Review: Is ‘Noah’ an allegory for climate change?

Noahs Ark

Noah’s Ark on Mt. Ararat, by Simon de Myle. Image courtesy Wikimedia Commons.

Darren Aronofsky’s enjoyable film Noah, starring Russell Crowe as the biblical patriarch, challenges the Children’s Bible imagery of the Great Flood myth by portraying Noah as a borderline cult leader. He loves animals, admonishes his children to take from the earth only what they need, and listens to voices in his head, which he takes to be the Lord telling him to build an enormous ship in the outback. If he lived in the 21st century, his neighbors would complain to city planners about his McMansion-sized boat, and his children would be snatched by Child Protective Services. But in the world of Aronofsky’s fantasy film, and the Bible, he’s a prophet.

What is he prophesying? In the biblical story, he foresees the destruction of mankind by a flood because humanity has turned its back on the Lord, who, above all things, hates to be ignored. But check your Bible at the door; this is not your pastor’s Noah. Aronofsky adds a modern moral message to the story: If humanity fouls its own nest, it’s bound to destroy itself with its ignorance and foolishness. Aronofsky has encouraged this interpretation, citing the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s 2014 report in a CNN interview. A few commentators have lumped Noah into the new genre of “climate fiction,” or “clifi,” although it’s the weather that’s unhinged in Noah’s world, not the climate.

The environmental tailspin portrayed in Noah is a reflection of Noah’s descent into madness. He may have been favored by the Lord, and given a chance to escape humanity’s fate while serving the Lord’s purposes, but he realizes that he shares the same human-ness as the terrified masses outside the Ark’s hull. If they are punished, he deserves the same punishment. He’s an isolated man, driven by a vision he barely understands. It’s not even clear why his family follows him, though trust within this tight-knit group is strong. Once Noah sees what he has in common with the damned, he becomes suicidal, and threatens to take his family with him. In Hollywood fashion, the tragedy is averted, but not without a cost. He considers himself a failure, but it’s his fall that saves him.

Seattle literary event may debut climate fiction

Hugo Literary Series poster

The poster for the Hugo Literary Series in Seattle. The April 25, 2014 event may debut interesting climate fiction.

A literary event in April 2014 has me thinking that climate fiction may have arrived in Seattle. Richard Hugo House, a non-profit organization that supports writers with educational programs and events, has posted the schedule for its annual Hugo Literary Series. The org has invited three writers–Nick Flynn, Rick Bass, and Jennine Capó Crucet–to write about climate change and its impact on our present and future lives. For a program titled “Some Like It Hot,” the writers are asked to answer these questions: “How do we reconcile love for our modern lifestyle with the strange weather outside our car windows? Will the rising water drown us when it rages down our doors? Or will our anxieties kill us off before we have a chance to battle through Mad Max’s desert world come true?”

Nick Flynn is a poet best known for his 2004 memoir, Another Bullshit Night in Suck City, which won the PEN/Martha Albrand Award for the Art of the Memoir. Rick Bass is a writer and environmentalist who won the 1995 James Jones Literary Society First Novel Fellowship for his novel Where the Sea Used to BeJennine Capó Crucet is the author of How to Leave Hialeah, which won the Iowa Short Fiction Prize and other awards. None of the writers appears to have composed fiction with climate change themes, but the challenge posed by Hugo House should result in some interesting new literary takes on the future of humanity in a warmed world.

Here’s a link to more information and tickets to the series, including “Some Like It Hot” on April 25, 2014. Will you attend?

‘Cli-fi’ gains traction as new literary form

Global warming

Image courtesy Inhabitat

Guest Post by Dan Bloom

Note from Joe: Originally from Boston, Dan Bloom is a Taipei, Taiwan-based free-lance journalist who has written about “climate fiction” since 2008. He blogs about the genre at Cli Fi Central.

In a London Guardian newspaper commentary in London in late May, British writer Rodge Glass issued a “global warning” about what he termed “the rise of ‘cli-fi'” — noting that “unlike most science fiction, novels about climate change focus on an immediate and intense threat rather than discovery.”

His piece about the rise of cli-fi as a literary term in English — in both the U.S. and in the UK — was well-received among his newspaper’s readership with over 100 comments joining the post-publication online discussion. NPR broadcast a story about cli-fi in April, which was followed by a second story in the Christian Science Monitor. And following the Guardian piece in late May, the Financial Times in London ran its own story about cli-fi.

Glass, himself a novelist, said that in recent months the cli-fi term has been used increasingly in literary and environmental circles — but there’s no doubt it has broken out more widely. The Twitterverse also took note, he said.

I know a little about the growing popularity of the cli-fi term, because I coined it here in Taiwan in 2008 while working on a series of blog posts about climate change and global warming. But it wasn’t until NPR and the Guardian ran stories about cli-fi that the word got out far and wide. I also want to credit an artist in Taiwan, Deng Cheng-hong, who inspired me in my PR work with his illustrations of what future survival cities for climate refugees might look like.
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