The irony for me of how I agonised over my book Lost Girl is the chronology. I’ve been thinking about that book a lot recently. I effectively researched the story from around 2006 to 2013, and started writing it in 2013, eventually deciding on a setting of 2053 for the story. My thinking was that a later setting for a story about a world engulfed by the consequences of runaway climate change, would lessen the impact of the depicted catastrophes. Originally, I thought of the 2070s as a more plausible setting for such severe levels of catastrophe directly and indirectly related to predicted levels of climate change, population growth, denaturing effects on food production. But that date felt too “futuristic” to what I wanted to achieve. I agonised over that timing the whole time I was writing the book. And yet, it’s hard for me now to see the real world in 2053 “only” being as terrible as the one I depicted for 2053 in a fictional story. That horrifies me. If I’m still alive in 2053, I will be making further comparisons.
With absolutely zero satisfaction, over the last few months, I’ve watched the background (or world-build) of my story more or less unfold in the world. Not even across a full year either, but in a few months. I never posted anything because I didn’t want to appear as trying to fecklessly benefit from catastrophe by promoting a book while Australia was on fire. But then a coronavirus took over the headlines. Followed by the UK floods (again). Three almost identical dilemmas occur, in the very same places, in my story. A hat trick (not even including events prior to this time, with a refugee crisis in Europe and the Amazon catching fire that also occur in the story). I’m not marvelling at my prophetic instincts, but am aghast at the rapidity of it all. I have no scientific background. I write fiction and merely read widely among those with expertise about the environment, climate change, viral outbreaks, the collapse of former civilisations and other subjects of this nature. I found the information effortlessly and made informed guesses. All of the information had been collated and interpreted for me, even decades ago, by finer minds. That is what really undermines my hope for any meaningful change. We knew.
I also recall one reviewer commenting, back in 2015, that while Australia was on fire in the story (I even used pyrocumulonimbus clouds and nearly fell off my chair when I saw the recent news) and Europe suffering from a hurricane season with flooding, refugees etc, that it was unrealistic that there would also be a coronavirus originating in Asia and spreading in the same time-frame. That it was overkill. My fictional zoonotic virus also started in a Chinese wet market, passing from caged animals to humans. I wish that reviewer was reading the book now. And the fool who told me that I should wear a tin foil hat, I am certain, would still be denying the causes of everything in the story while actually being on fire, in a conflagration directly caused by man-made climate change.
Stepping off my soapbox for the second time in 2020. There will be no more appearances in human form. Just pictures of the sea and stuff from now on (unless I encounter lane rage at the swimming pool, a queue jumper at the post office, or arseholes in cars … so maybe my predicting that this will be my last sound-off for “this month” is a more realistic prediction …).