The Deluge

S. & S. Jan. 2023. 896p. ISBN 9781982123093. $32.50. F
This sprawling epic of climate apocalypse by Markley (his second novel, following Ohio) takes place over a quarter-century, from 2013 to 2037, as extreme heat, fires, and floods rage across the planet. Central among its characters is charismatic, unconventional climate activist Kate Morris, founder of a climate action organization willing to work with whoever will support its goal of saving the planet regardless of their other political positions. That makes her an anathema to the violent ecoterrorists 6Degrees (also known as “the Weathermen,” after the 1960s radicals), even as she is also feared by fossil-fuel industry groups who see their profits threatened. As climate change worsens, it leads to an ever more dystopian world, with increasingly destructive storms, worldwide social breakdown, and the concomitant rise of right-wing authoritarians at home and abroad—notably The Pastor, a former actor–turned–end-of-days theocrat whose political movement makes him a strong presidential contender. Meanwhile, activists work feverishly trying to get a bill through Congress to stave off ultimate disaster.
VERDICT This is a stunning achievement that may earn a place among dystopian and apocalyptic classics like 1984 and On the Beach. And perhaps most of all, it’s an unflinching and utterly compelling call to action to prevent an all-too-possible future.
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