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.

Despite Trump’s denialism, 2017 could be a bright spot in the fight for planet Earth

global warming illustration

2017 may be a bad year for climate change policy. Or maybe not. Image courtesy Earth.com.

I’ve taken inspiration from climate change. As a writer who loves speculative fiction, everything from Star Trek’s optimism to Margaret Atwood’s dark literary visions, I see global warming as fertile ground for storytelling. You might even say I’m taking advantage of the worst crisis to hit planet Earth in three million years.

That only counts in fiction.

When it comes to real life, it’s hard to be optimistic about the fight to fix the crisis, especially after the election of Donald Trump to the presidency. He is a denialist of the first order, calling climate change a hoax perpetrated by the Chinese. The claim is ludicrous, resembling a post-truth, fake news story.

Virtually all his major picks for high-level posts in his administration reflect a similar view. Scott Pruitt, tapped to head the EPA, uses the three percent of scientists who question climate science as a reason to ignore the 97 percent who know it’s human-caused. Rex Tillerson, Secretary of State designate, while acknowledging increasing CO2 in the atmosphere, says its impact is “very hard for anyone to predict,” despite the solid record of predictions going back decades. Of all Trump’s selections, Rick Perry is the worst. “I think there are a substantial number of scientists who have manipulated data so that they will have dollars rolling into their projects,” he said. That’s simply a lie.

As president, Trump will have a powerful voice. Thankfully, because of America’s diffused political structure, he’s not the only voice.

As president, Trump will have a powerful voice. Thankfully, because of America’s diffused political structure, he’s not the only voice. When you look at what states and localities are doing, I come away with hope that all is not lost. 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: A faux-paleo world with email stumbles on its contradictions

Knocking on Heaven's Door, by Sharman Apt Russell

Knocking on Heaven’s Door, by Sharman Apt Russell

A strain of environmentalism sees civilization as a mistake, a wrong turn in history taken 10,000 years ago at the invention of agriculture. The error sparked a chain of events taking us down the path to global warming and if you extend the trendline, global apocalypse. It would’ve been better if the first seeds sown by humans had fallen on rocky ground or were choked by weeds, goes the logic.

That civilization might be an intelligent adaptation to a harsh, dangerous, and above all unpredictable environment (Will I find game this week? Are enough berries ripening this season?) doesn’t figure in this thinking. The success of farming and the resulting rise of urbanization has meant a paradise lost. Fiction writers in particular are prone to view our hunter-gatherer past with envy, seeing our ancient ancestors as “in harmony” with the earth. Continue reading

Two thoughts about the future U.S. Supreme Court

We come in peace to replace Antonin Scalia with Gort.

We come in peace to replace Antonin Scalia with Gort.

meme

Humans get justice at the Supreme Court. How about some justice for me?

The passing of U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Antonin Scalia last weekend turned national politics on its head. Not only will Americans elect a new president, but the Senate will debate the future direction of the highest court in the land. The situation makes me wake up in the middle of the night with meme ideas. What fun! Here’s what comes to mind.

How a flu shot got me thinking about memes

meme

For the love of God, Fred. No one wants to see your Angela Merkel impressions.

Lately, I’ve been thinking of ways to make my blog more “likeable,” which is a way of saying “less boring.” It’s a well-established fact of online life that outrageous gets attention and traffic, but my posts tend to be on the ponderous side, mostly because I’m not very good at provoking reactions or ranting about every little thing. My writing voice isn’t suited to it. When I do write a rant, I feel that I just look angry, which doesn’t win friends or followers.

I’ve also got an instinctive aversion to self-promotion, a vital skill for a self-published author. My reluctance comes from a very old-fashioned value that regards ostentatious emotional displays as unseemly and distasteful. Talking about yourself too much is a sign of an ego out of control. It’s fine for politicians and celebrities, but not for ordinary people. None of this works to my benefit in a media environment where ego rules, and one has to shout like a maniac to be heard. Continue reading

What is the role of a writer as climate change creeps up on us?

Conference

People in suits gather in Paris to decide the fate of a climate-change world.

It’s a ripe scene for satire. Twenty-five thousand bureaucrats and another 25,000 hangers-on are gathered in Paris at COP21 to exchange climate change jargon over sustainable wine and cheese. It’s hard, however, to ignore the seriousness of their effort, especially as a pall lingers over the city three weeks after the November 13 terror attacks. The spectacle of so many people in sensible shoes working as one reminds me that most problems are solvable with elbow grease and cooperation. Best to leave them alone to do their jobs.

Maybe I’m a little jealous. It must be exciting to be part of an effort that could save the planet while exchanging tips on the best places in France for glamping. Instead, my head is buried in my laptop as I try to tell stories about survival in a future that no one can predict with any certainty. Even if COP21 is wildly successful, the planet will still warm by a couple of degrees, and millions of mostly poor people will have to cope with the changes. Continue reading

How writers can read The Grapes of Wrath as climate fiction

Farmer and sons during a dust storm.

John Steinbeck’s classic novel The Grapes of Wrath serves as a model for speculative fiction writers interested in portraying the effects of climate change. Photo credit: Library of Congress

Great fiction dramatizes times, places and attitudes it was never meant to illuminate. Shakespeare’s plays are loved today, despite the sometimes impenetrable language and unacceptable sexism and racism, because they reveal the universal. For several years, I’ve been interested in how fiction authors deal with climate change, and John Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath is one of the better attempts, if you choose to interpret it this way.

In case you skipped your American Literature class, or forgot to watch John Ford’s film adaptation, the 1939 Pulitzer Prize-winning novel follows the Joad family from the loss of their Oklahoma farm during the Dust Bowl years of the 1930s through their migration to California’s Central Valley. They descend from a life of gentile poverty to one of desperate survival. Continue reading

Review: Why can’t climate change be funny and romantic, too?

Love in the Time of Climate Change cover

Love in the Time of Climate Change

One of my pet peeves about environmental activists and climate change activists in particular is their shriveled sense of humor. Not all, mind you, but most beat a constant drum of doom and gloom that makes me want to jump off a cliff. Way to crucify my Jesus, people! That’s why it’s refreshing to read a story that takes a lighter view of a serious subject. Love in the Time of Climate Change, the first novel by Brian Adams, also makes the case that even the end of the world can spark a romance.

Casey is a 32-year-old community college professor who suffers from OCD, obsessive climate disorder. Rising sea and CO2 levels, evil oil companies, the stupidity of deniers, and other bugbears of climate doomsayers are never far from his mind, until the arrival of Samantha, a 29-year-old middle school teacher who needs some professional development credits. Over the course of the novel, Samantha’s hotness competes with Casey’s fears of global warming, until their interest in climate science and each other culminates in an meeting of minds and bodies. Continue reading

The Windup Girl read as eco-fiction

Cover for The Windup Girl

The Windup Girl, by Paolo Bacigalupi

It’s too bad more science fiction writers don’t address changes to Earth’s environment. Most are interested in the environment of other planets, while our home world’s atmosphere and biosphere grow more alien every day. Thank God for writers such as Margaret Atwood, with her Maddaddam Trilogy, Emmi Itäranta, author of The Memory of Water, and the late George Turner, whose The Sea and Summer anticipated the emerging eco-fiction genre by a generation.

Add to these Paolo Bacigalupi and The Windup Girl, which won the 2010 Hugo Award for Best Novel. Critics and marketers who insist on genre-izing everything have labeled it “biopunk,” a story taking humanity’s ten-thousand-year-old penchant for tinkering with biology to logical, if not absurd, commercial and scientific extremes. Writers fiddling with stories about climate change or GMO foods ought to look to The Windup Girl for lessons in how to approach these issues. Continue reading