FICTION

Stillicide

Catapult. Nov. 2020. 176p. ISBN 9781646220137. pap. $15.95. F
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From his 2006 debut novel, The Long Dry, to his recent Cove, Welsh writer Jones has consistently offered unconventional fiction that attracts award attention. He continues to challenge readers in his new work, in which a climate crisis has pushed a near-future Britain into extreme weather, with floods, drought, and rising temperatures. The economic agenda is dominated by ways to obtain a water supply for a growing population. Previous attempts—an underground pipeline and a heavily armored water train—have been attacked by vigilantes, protesters, and terrorists. The latest plan is to tow icebergs from the Arctic to an ice dock where the melt off, i.e., stillicide, which will provide pure drinking water and agricultural irrigation. With the population being given only corporate platitudes, journalist Colin digs for answers about this venture. Then a scientist discovers the small skeletons of dragonflies in the bulldozed earth near the ice-dock construction, and if larvae exist as well, work on the dock could come to a halt. Meanwhile, John Banner, a soldier patrolling the water train route, must decide if an intruder alert on his computer is business as usual, but tragically this time it is not.
VERDICT Jones’s compressed, minimalist style heightens the effect of a precarious future for a world where climate chaos is deadly serious, creating an absorbing narrative for sophisticated readers.

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