See his website:
QUESTION: Marley and Brianne, both 18,
face a series of climate catastrophes that descend on Sleepy Valley. What are they? Floods? Hurricanes? Heatwaves? What?
3. The Big Melt challenges us all to confront what is rapidly becoming the greatest threat of the 21st century. What is this threat called?
5. Have you heard of a new YA novel coming out this October from Neal Shusterman? It is called''DRY,'' about water shortages in the West with teenage cast.
NED: It sounds like one I should read. Will put it on my list. I have found that many ''cli-fi'' novels and news articles are ''after the fact discussions'' of dystopian worlds. ''The Big Melt'' could happen tomorrow and much of it will if the readers don’t all start taking action.
A charming story and an inspiration to action
Marley and Brianne just graduated from high school and are looking forward to an exciting future, but when extreme weather events wreak havoc on their little town of Sleepy Valley and elsewhere, it brings a very different kind of excitement, grave consequences for the town and the rest of society. As Marley and Brianne step in to help their neighbors weather the immediate crisis, riding Marley’s skateboard to deliver supplies to stranded townspeople, the young people also ask, “What can I do?” to help address the bigger problems. With help from people like Jim, the local meteorologist, Doc, their high-school science teacher, and Max, the “quintessential park ranger, as well as his inspirational “inner voice”, Marley, with Brianne, their friends, families, and neighbors learn how people gathering facts, making plans, and speaking up can make a difference.
Ned Tillman is an award-winning environmentalist who has written extensively in the field of environmental stewardship. In The Big Melt, Tillman has turned to fiction to deliver the same message: our earth and the life it sustains are under great threat, but there are steps we can take locally and globally to address the problems. The book is focused for a young audience but certainly can be read by all ages and is definitely the kind of work that can inspire and motivate readers to get involved. An Afterword contains specifics in Ten Steps for a Cooler Climate and a Discussion Guide. The pattern of actions Marley and his allies take, though, can easily be generalized and could also inspire activism on other issues that concern the average citizen. His message is a good one and a very timely one, that “politics” is not a dirty word; our political system is how things get done, and, as Marley’s aunt Betsy says, “We need a seat at the table….We need to be part of the solution.”
As I read this book at the end of the very unusual and extreme summer weather of 2018, I wondered whether Tillman, who began the book almost two years earlier, had a crystal ball, but sadly his tale is just a not unreasonable extrapolation of “if this goes on….”
The Big Melt is near-future speculative fiction with some charming touches of whimsy, like Joe, Marley’s inner voice, who motivates and encourages him when he needs it most. I will not spoil Tillman’s fun by telling you who Joe is, but I can predict with confidence the identity will give you a laugh.
Despite its very serious subject, there are a number of nice touches of humor throughout the book, like the description of the mess in Ranger Max’s office: “His office paperwork would pile up on his desk until it slid to the floor. It then flowed out the door, where it was read and recycled by a family of fungi living in the soil just beneath the wooden steps.”
Certainly The Big Melt could have been a dystopic book, but ultimately Ned Tillman believes that people getting involved and working together CAN make a difference. The ending is upbeat and guaranteed to make you smile.