Monday, March 20, 2017

''Star Sailors'' makes for some heavy reading!

James McNaughton speaks:

''One of the significant problems with climate change is that it’s depressing to dwell on. The first decision I made when writing Star Sailors was to give it a Comedy plot, meaning that the principle characters would be united at the end—after many troubles and travails—in loving understanding.

I took Shakespearean Comedy conventions, such as a character misunderstanding an overheard conversation, and changed the curtain he was lurking behind into a laptop camera. The waiter costume one of my protagonists wears at a masked orgy for super-elderly elites was inspired by Shakespeare’s many cross-dressers and disguised princes and princesses.

But with the global civilisation being lost, the humour remains dark.

At the end of the fifth act I knew that there could be no clear fix, in which thermal inertia could be magically rolled back after emissions end and the world returned to normal.

Star Sailors is a muted Comedy but love prevails.''


And now for our review:

''Star Sailors'' makes for some heavy reading!

by Dan Bloom at The Cli-Fi Report

When James McNauighton's new cli-fi novel arrived in the mail the other day, by air freight, from Wellington to my little town in southern Taiwan, the 400-plus page novel weighed in at 0.62 kilograms! Therefore, I immediately started to dig in. And what a book it is.

Written for an audience in New Zealand first, it also reaches out to readers worldwide, who will also understand and "get" the trouble we humans are in, in terms of future global warming impact events in the distant future. Maybe the near future. Maybe sooner than that.

So dig in, too. This is a novel that packs a punch. If you're worried about where things stand in the southern hemisphere and what comes next, James McNaughton's novel "Star Sailors" is a good place to begin your reading now.

I said in the headline the book makes for some heavy reading. I meant "heavy" in the sense of "serious." Thoughtful, a book that will prod you out of your comfort zone about climate change and make you see things in a new, revealing way.

First, some background news.

British scientist and author James Lovelock has called New Zealand in a radio interview "Lifeboat New Zealand." He meant that in the future, millions of climate refugees might very well make a beeline for New Zealand via airplane or boat, as the Climapocalypse
descends on the Earth and all who dwell here. Now comes a novel by New Zealander James McNaughton titled "Star Sailors" which points to the very same possibility. It's fiction. It's a cli-fi novel.

McNaughton, who lives in Wellington with his wife and young son, wrote the book to entertain readers and also as call to action, a wake up call about global warming and climate change.
There are many of us all around the world who believe, like Lovelock, that we are in a race against time. "Star Sailors" tells a gripping story in its 400-plus pages, and the cover alone is worth a look. Rodney Smithdid the amazing artwork.
As McNaughton's page-turner of a story goes: In the not too distant future, the effects of climate change devastate the world and New Zealand becomes a haven for climate refugess from all walks of life and also for elites like rich computer company bosses from the tech world in North America and Europe. Asia, too.

When a young couple from the wrong side of the tracks gain entry into an exclusive gated community in Wellington, New Zealand, it appears their troubles are over. But they find themselves divided over the identity of Sam Starsailor, an alien prophet who has washed up on a local beach near New Hokitika and is said to bring warnings from another planet.

The couple's housewarming party becomes an all-night carnival, and revolution gathers beyond the gate.

It's Lovelock's
''Lifeboat New Zealand''

all over again, but this time in a novel by a writer in Wellington. And it's not just for readers in his island nation. It's book intended for an international audience.
We have been warned. Fiction can do these kinds of things.
Think Kim Stanley Robinson's "New York 2140" or Nathaniel Rich's "Odds Against Tomorrow." Or Liz Jensen's "Rapture" and Claire Vaye Watkins' "Gold Fame Citrus." And from Australia, Cat Sparks climate fiction novel titled "Lotus Blue."

Lovelock said in a radio interview in New Zealand that New Zealand is wasting its time passing an Emissions Trading Scheme, or ETS for short. He said this on the Radio New Zealand program during the 4-minute interview."I think the role of New Zealand, similar to that of the UK and other island nations, is to be a lifeboat, because the world may get almost intolerable during the coming century. And you see that happening already in Australia -- the desert is spreading and things just won't grow. And island nations like New Zealand will be spared that kind of damage."

"New Zealand could lead the world by being the perfect 'lifeboat' and taking that just right number of people that you can support and feed and the rest of it, and doing it building proper cities. That's going to take the money and the effort. Trying to stop global warming is almost a certain waste of time.

According to Angela Gregory, writing in the New Zealand Herald, "Global warming 'could see Lifeboat New Zealand swamped by refugees'."

"New Zealand could become a climate change lifeboat, swamped with returning expats, Australians and thousands of refugees from the Pacific as the weather plays havoc around the globe," she writes.

As global warming accelerates in the near future, New Zealand will not feel the rate of change as much as most countries as it was surrounded by the vast Southern Ocean which would warm relatively slowly,
and this means that New Zealand would be perceived as a good place to live and its agriculture would even get a boost from the extra warmth.

"But what happens if climate refugees from North America and Europe and around the Pacific or Asia knock on the door, or our half-million expat Kiwis all decide to come home to ride out the rigours of climate change?" Gregory asks.

"If we are seen to be a good place to escape the worst of climate change, lifeboat New Zealand could quickly become overcrowded. Managing immigration will be even more of a political hot potato if thousands of people are knocking at the door," she adds.

Land values and house prices would inevitably increase, she said.

Despite New Zealand coming off quite well, it will not be totally off the hook. Isolation will again present challenges because of the volumes of food miles incurred in exporting.

New Zealand could very well face a scenario of billions of 'climate change refugees' migrating to their shores in the future.

In two recent international news articles about climate change ("How much more proof is needed for people to act" and "Ignoring the future - the psychology of denial"), the importance of facing major issues that will confront the future of the human species were emphasized.

Climate change is indeed an issue that is on everyone's mind today, and while Australia and New Zealand seem to be far removed from the experts who recently made their way to Copenhagen to try to hammer our blueprints to prevent global warming from having a doomsday impact on humankind, these two Pacific Ocean countries, facing Asia to the north and Antarctica to the south will be on the front line of these issues.

Despite most observers thinking that solutions lie in mitigation ideas, there are a growing number of climatologists and scientists who believe that the A-word - adaptation - must be confronted head-on, too. The fact is, despite the head-in-the-sand protestations of climate denialists,  we cannot stop climate change or global warming.

The Earth's atmosphere has already passed the tipping point, and in the next 500 years, temperatures will rise considerably, sea levels will rise considerably and millions, even billions, of people from the tropical and temperate zones of the Earth will be forced to migrate north in search of food, fuel and shelter. This is where Australia, and New Zealand in particular, will play central roles.

By the year 2500, New Zealand could be home to millions, even billions, of climate refugees from India and China and other Asia nations who will have migrated south, seeking safe harbor from the devastating impact of global warming in those future times.

Many parts of the New Zealand coastlines will be under water, and both countries will find themselves home to new kinds of visitors from Asia and Europe. They won't be coming on cruise ships or airplanes, since there will be no fuel for such services. They will be coming by rudimentary sailing vessels and barges. Prepare yourselves.

New Zealanders must be prepared for the worst-case scenario. By 2500, millions, billions of people will have been forced to leave their home countries in the tropical and temperate zones and migrate south en masse to faraway southern regions to find shelter in United Nations-funded climate refuges in places such as New Zealand. People from India, Vietnam, Thailand, Japan and the Philippines will make their way there, especially to LifeBoat New Zealand. It won't be a pretty picture.

When I asked acclaimed British scientist James Lovelock if such a scenario for New Zealand was likely, he said in an e-mail: "It may very well happen, yes."

Humans cannot engineer our way out of global warming, although scientists who believe in geo-engineering have offered their theories on how to do it. There are no easy fixes. Humankind has put too many greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, the result of the industrial revolution that gave us trains, plans and automobiles - and much more to live comfortable and trendy lives - and now there is so much carbon dioxide in the atmosphere that the Earth cannot recover. Forget trying to be more "green" in our daily lives.

New Zealand, like the rest of the world, is now doomed to a very bleak future. There will be millions of climate refugees seeking shelter in Alaska and Canada, of courcse, but also in far south places such as New Zealand, Tasmania and Antarctica as well.

Meetings in Copenhagen and Rio de Janiero and at the U.N. building in Manhattan will not stop global warming. What we need to focus on now is preparing future generations for what our world will become in the next 500 years and how best to survive it. The national legislature of New Zealand needs to start thinking about these issues, too.

For the next 100 years or so, life will go on as normal in New Zealand, so don't worry too much. There is nothing to worry about now. For the next 100 years, posh department stores will continue to hawk their trendy items, international computer firms will continue to launch their latest cell phones and tech gadgets, and airline companies will continue to offer passengers quick passage here and there, to the Maldives and to Manhattan, for business and for pleasure.

But in the next 500 years, according to Lovelock and otther scientists who are not afraid to think outside the box, things are going to get bad. Unspeakably bad. Those of us who are alive today won't suffer, and the next few generations of humans will be fine, too.

The big troubles will probably start around 2200 - Lovelock says sooner - and last for some 300 years or so. By 2500, much of Australia will be uninhabited, although New Zealand will offer safe refuge to climate refugees who make it there. Most of the countries in Africa, Asia, Central America, North America, South America and Europe will be uninhabited, too. Prepare yourselves, o ye who think this is all science fiction. In fact, this is science fact!

We are entering uncharted waters, and as the waters rise and the temperatures go up as well, future generations will have some important choices to make: where to live, how to live, how to grow food, how to power their climate refugee settlements, how to plan and how to pray.

James McNaughton's cli-fi novel "Star Sailors" is a good place to begin your reading now.


BONUS COMMENT FROM SUE PARRITT, an Australian novelist who was born in the UK and came to Australia when she was 20 (she's now 66)  and is the author of a trilogy, which begins with Sannah and the Pilgrim:

Q. As an Australian, you’ve made New Zealand the egalitarian safe-haven of these books in your trilogy. What is it you love most about the country?

A. What I love most about New Zealand – apart from the magnificent scenery and friendly people – is that the country’s politicians are not afraid to stand up for what they believe in: e.g. since 1984 nuclear-powered or nuclear-armed ships have been barred from using New Zealand ports or entering New Zealand waters. More recently, on 31 October 2016, Prime Minister John Key said his government would not accept any move to create “different classes of New Zealand citizens” by barring refugees who settled there from ever returning to Australia as proposed by Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull.

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