Sarah and JanetM, are a human/Artificial Intelligence pair who do private investigations in the near future where our climate crisis has hit and hit hard. A man with a long dark history tries to hire them but is then killed. His family hires the team to find who killed this man with a thousand enemies in a land with a million problems.
The United Nations IPCC report, “Climate Change 2022, Impacts, Adaption and Vulnerability contains:
C5.3 Enhancing knowledge
A wide range of … processes … can deepen climate knowledge and sharing, including … using the arts … (high confidence).
This can only be read as a clarion call for writers to produce the works that will help our people cope.
A Climate of Revenge by Tom Riley is a Cli-Fi novel that follows a human/AI pair, Sarah and JanetM, as they go about solving a murder investigation - one that the police initially believe Sarah is a suspect.
Riley is a career scientist who has switched to writing climate fiction novels, a genre dealing with life on Earth ravaged by climate change. Like most authors in this emergent genre, Riley recognises the dangers of the climate crisis and wants to change readers' (and writers') attitudes. His work is a response to the IPCC's clarion call for others, particularly writers, to join the scientists and policymakers in deepening everyone's knowledge about global warming.
His background and experience shone through. The climate science described in A Climate of Revenge was fascinating, from the everyday responses, community gardening, to loftier strategies such as Cloud Brightening to protect the Earth's permafrost from melting. The reader is right there with Sarah as she navigates an increasingly depleted world. The technology is also seamlessly layered into this future world, highlighting its crucial role in monitoring the unfolding crisis. AI technology, ranging from personal assistants (JanetM) to boats and houses, was imaginative and believable. The interplay between AIs added layers to the many tech-driven characters. For example, an AI purgatory where the unwanted old models went was a unique and believable idea.
These elements alone enabled me to forgive the weaknesses within the storytelling. The investigation remained the secondary side story to the creative world-building. I read the draft PDF version, so I anticipate the author will tighten some of the sub-plots, address stilted dialogue and check the frequent grammatical errors before publishing.
That said, readers and writers with a genuine interest in the 'challenge of our time' will appreciate this book. A helpful appendix provides a scientist's perspective on what is or is not believable science of the future.
Climate fiction is an emergent genre that, at its core, presents credible natural science. Significantly, Cli-Fi can help us imagine these experiences more vividly than endless scientific graphs of temperature variations. The choice between one, two or three degrees change in global temperature is actively messaged on mainstream and social media. Yet rational messaging is still not effectively cutting through, where perhaps the emotion and poetry of fiction could:
"The whole complicated system of modernity which had held us up, away from the earth, was crumbling....and we were becoming again what we used to be: cold and frightened of the weather, and frightened of the dark." (excerpt from Jessie Greengrass’s The High House
For those not yet swayed by the climate crisis, start by reading A Climate of Revenge. It might just make you decide to become part of the movement for change. 4 STARS
Sarah walked out of the restaurant past the taxi lane and into the dark parking lot. The charging kiosks threw patches of dim light barely enough to walk by, but they lit up when anyone approached. If anyone was sneaking around in the lot, the kiosks would surely have given them away. There was no moon, the stars were just coming out, but the heat of the day was hanging on for a while.
The dinner appointment had been a waste of time, the ex-executive who had booked the table was only interested in hiring her to promote his I’m-a-good-guy-now agenda by getting the dirt on his enemies one way or another. Sarah had no patience with such greenwashing.
What did he call himself, Winestead? She knew she had heard that name before, but where? JanetM would have a complete dossier by morning. Anyway his story did not make much sense; he was hiding something. Only god knew what sins against the Earth this man had already committed.
Sarah was not interested in his building a new facade; he could keep his money. To make matters worse, the dinner was one of those little-food-and-fancy-plates affairs. The whole experience left Sarah feeling still hungry and irritable. The interview had gone on for much too long.
AUTHOR Bio and Links
After an extensive career at NASA as an Instrument Engineer, Tom Riley started a people-based space program, The Big Moon Dig, compatible with the needs of our climate crisis. Our climate crisis clearly must now come first, and that effort needed positive stories of people in action.
PTom Riley will be awarding a PDF “Guide to Our Climate Crisis" (International) to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.
Enter to win a writer's guide on climate change - a Rafflecopter giveaway HERE