Fire Weather: A True Story from a Hotter World

Books on Tape. Jun. 2023. 14:19 hrs. ISBN 9780593740507. $95. SCI
Vaillant (The Jaguar’s Children) uses Canada’s 2016 Fort McMurray wildfire as a jumping-off point to discuss the history, science, and politics of climate change and the increasing flammability of the world. Alan Carlson offers a tense and heartbreaking narration of the horror visited upon McMurray’s residents. Background details about the history of petroleum and Big Oil, the science of fire, and the people who work in oil-sands operations are interspersed with gripping accounts of efforts to contain or escape from the fire. Employing a newscaster-like cadence, Carlson captivates as the narrative weaves between first-person accounts, scientific data, and the author’s warnings about the future. Vaillant’s prose occasionally verges on being overblown, such as when he speaks of fire as a living, ravenous organism. Even so, listeners will likely be spellbound by the facts he presents, which are terrifying enough to stand alone.
VERDICT A timely exploration of an increasingly frequent natural disaster. The human-centric story at the center will keep less academically oriented listeners engaged and, perhaps, pondering how close they’ve come to recent fires.
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