Category Archives: Cli-Fi

The Annual Migration of Clouds by Premee Mohamed

One November morning, after staying up late to finish Premee Mohamed’s riveting dystopian novella, The Annual Migration of Clouds, I woke up to news that seemed similar to the fictional world I’d just left.

First, I received an email from my brother in BC, reassuring me that he and his family were safe. (Safe? Safe from what? I blithely wondered from my kitchen table in Toronto, having somehow failed to notice the words ‘atmospheric river’ in my previous day’s doom scrolling). The second sign of Mohamed’s prescience was a CBC radio interview with a woman whose back yard in suburban Pickering, Ontario was being invaded by Eurasian wild boars, an invasive species that, if it interbred with the local pig population, could actually cause them to devolve. Then, it was back to the usual roller coaster of Covid-19 updates. Reality seemed to be edging eerily close to the Alberta-based scientist-poet-fiction writer’s vision of a future transformed by climate emergencies, invasive species, and novel infections.

It’s not easy to build a believable dystopian fictional world that looks back with both longing and contempt at the simple pleasures of the Before Times (store-bought food, medicine, electricity, etc.) through the eyes of relatable, fully developed characters. The Annual Migration of Clouds succeeds on all levels.

“The Annual Migration of Clouds is a unique work of fiction written in a voice that is by turns poetic and gutwrenching, humorous, and tragic.”

A tightly compressed coming-of-age story, the book’s central character is Reid, a teenager who lives with her mom on a derelict university campus in what is clearly Edmonton of the After Times. Reid has grown up in a world that has lost most of its technology and systems of communication. The oldest members of her community can remember the Before Times but Reid doesn’t know what it’s like to touch a switch and have lights flicker on or eat food that wasn’t grown or hunted down (enter the feral hogs). Malnutrition is an ongoing threat, as is a creepy disease called Cad, a possibly-sentient parasitic fungus that sometimes does its best to keep its host alive, but other times kills its host in a gruesome fashion. Reid is aware that her own Cad infection may be controlling her decisions and actions, as well as her mother’s –– a chilling device which is all too believable, given the tough little son of a bitch (to quote from the movie Alien) that our very own coronavirus has turned out to be. The description of the attempts to learn to live with Cad sounds awfully familiar: “For generations we have waited for it to become normal. And it has not. We are still horrified. And there is nothing we can do about it.”

However, the central conflict that drives this superb book is not the creepy parasite or the survival of our species in a post-civilization world, but Reid’s struggle to decide whether to face the unknown dangers of traveling to a distant university that her mother suspects may not even exist. Mohamed has grounded her story in the ambitions, intelligence, and emotions of a young woman with a strong moral compass and powerful sense of self. We’re cheering her on, but we’re also afraid for her – what dangers will she face once she heads off into the Unknown? What will the Cad make her do, or prevent her from doing?

Readers may see flickers of other great works of dystopian fiction in “The Annual Migration of Clouds”, from to the genetically engineered pigoons of Margaret Atwood’s Flood trilogy, to the dangerous backwaters (and glimmers of hope) of Emily St John Mandel’s “Station Eleven”, and even the aforementioned Alien movies. Ultimately, The Annual Migration of Clouds is a unique work of fiction written in a voice that is by turns poetic and gutwrenching, humorous, and tragic. Premee Mohamed has created a dystopic future that is terrifying and yet hopeful: for what is a young woman daring to leave home for wider horizons than an expression of hope?

Personally, I can’t wait to see what Reid and her creator Premee Mohamed do next.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Premee Mohamed is an Indo-Caribbean scientist and speculative fiction author based in Edmonton, Alberta. Her short fiction has appeared in a number of venues. Her debut novel, Beneath the Rising, is out now from Solaris Books, with the sequel A Broken Darkness due out in 2021.

  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ ECW Press (Sept. 28 2021)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Paperback ‏ : ‎ 168 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 1770415939
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1770415935

This article has been Digiproved © 2021 James Fisher
Acknowledgements: Terri Favro
Some Rights Reserved  

Excerpt: Reversing Time by Charlotte Mendel

Reversing Time: One Boy’s Quest to Change History is the full title of a new work of fiction by Charlotte Mendel. It is being published by Guernica Editions and will be released on December 1st, 2021.

Here are her introductory comments to this excerpt:

“We are all aware of the climate crisis, so why is everyone talking the talk, but not walking the walk? If the message isn’t working, change the message. As so often in history, artists can play a leading role in this change. That was the premise of the inspiration for this optimistic, yet realistic, book—to serve up difficult facts within the context of a gripping fantasy that focuses on what we can do about it. It has already inspired readers to look at their actions through the lens of climate change.”


None of the bullies were in the classroom, so for once Simon could saunter out like a normal student, except his heart was heavy with dread.

Sandra linked arms with him again, but he shook her off. “This isn’t a stroll along the promenade. You’ve got to be ready to run.”

Sandra giggled. “Promenade? Where do you come up with them words?”

Simon didn’t answer; he walked slowly, swivelling his head in all directions as he checked the ground, the sky, behind and to the sides. Sandra sensed his nervousness, and punched him playfully. “Hey, loosen up. I’m with you, remember? I can beat those wusses with one hand.”

“Don’t be ridiculous. There’s three of them, and they’re all Neanderthals.” But Sandra’s compact, muscly body gave him courage; she probably was a much better fighter than him. In any case, two against three was a lot better than one.

They walked slowly, Simon shushing Sandra every time she talked. His 360-degree scrutiny paid off; they had a second’s warning when Shawn and Tyler erupted from behind parked cars on either side of the road. Simon and Sandra spun in unison and started running back towards the school.

Then the bullies’ plan became clear, as Jake leapt from behind a bush, directly in their path. They must have passed Jake’s hiding place, but Simon hadn’t noticed, despite his care.

Two chasing them from behind, one in front: Simon pivoted sideways and began to run up someone’s driveway.

“Let’s fight,” Sandra screamed, grabbing a rock and hurling it at Jake, smacking him right on the chest.

He howled in pain and doubled over.

“Run,” Simon yelled over his shoulder, half-ashamed that he’d already taken to his heels, leaving Sandra to attack alone. From his periphery vision, he saw her pelt past the crumpled Jake, back towards the school. A rock came sailing past his shoulder.

Shit, she’s given the morons a new idea, Simon thought. He could see that both Shawn and Tyler were chasing after him, leaving Sandra to her own devices. He was alone again. A constricted, miserable feeling stained his heart like mould.

He vaulted over the fence separating the yards and raced over someone else’s property. He would probably get lost. He was sick of this. Running, frightened, bullied every day. A sick mother, who was now crazy. She’d probably do something terrible and get locked away. He hated his life.

Simon stumbled over the unfamiliar terrain. There was some type of backyard waterfall coming up. Simon veered around it and headed for the road beyond. He didn’t have to turn around to know the bullies were closing in; he could hear their rasping breath. Two, three? He was sick to death of running. He was sick of his miserable life.

A rock sailed through the air and cracked against the asphalt. Then one thudded against his shoulder, sending a jolt of pain shooting up his neck and jerking him forward. He stumbled, and almost fell; tears rose unbidden to his eyes. How could those morons throw rocks and run so fast at the same time?

I hate my life. I hate my life.

Simon knew the tears would blind him, slowing him down. He wasn’t sure he cared. Let them catch him. Let them beat him up. Maybe the physical pain would alleviate the heaviness weighing on his heart.

The pendant thumped unpleasantly against his chest in time to his strides. He pressed it still with one hand.

I hate my life. I hate my life.

Another rock whooshed over his head.

I wish I was dead.

The ragged breaths of his pursuers seemed to be getting closer, but he didn’t dare look over his shoulder to check. Looking back slowed you down.

I wish I was done with school. Done with that miserable house and my crap parents. I wish I was 18.

A strange whistling invaded his ears. His vision went dark, as though someone had slipped a blindfold over his eyes. The strangest sensation enveloped his body; it felt like a strong wind was spinning him around, lifting his feet off the ground. He opened his mouth to cry out, but before the sound materialized he felt cold tile under his knees, and the darkness fell away from his eyes.

He lifted his head. He was crouching on the floor outside a half-open door. A long corridor stretched in either direction, with similar doors lining it on both sides.

He was alone in the corridor, although many of the doors were half-open, and he could hear a jumble of voices. Music was blaring from a door down the hall. Rigid with surprise and wondering what the hell was going on, Simon watched a girl and a boy, just a few years older than him, emerge from one of the doors in deep conversation and stride up the hallway. He jumped to his feet as they passed him, embarrassed to be crouching on the floor, but they didn’t pay him any attention.

“Excuse me,” he whispered. “What is this place?”

The couple ignored him.

He cleared his throat. “Excuse me!”

They glanced back at him, without breaking stride.

“Where am I?”

“You’re in Clancy Hall,” one replied unhelpfully.

Simon watched the couple disappear around the end of the corridor, and turned back to the half-open door nearest him. He poked his head inside. The first thing he saw was the coloured shag rug that was usually slung across his bedroom floor, except this wasn’t his bedroom. He didn’t recognize the room. It was much smaller than his room at home; there was a single bed in the corner, and the sun blazing through the window on the opposite wall illuminated the piles of books and papers strewn over the floor. A young man sat at a desk in the corner of the room with his back to Simon, peering at a laptop.

Simon felt embarrassed and confused. He was about to clear his throat to announce his uninvited presence, when someone shoved by him, propelling him into the room. Another young man entered, and flung himself across the bed. “Jesus Simon, haven’t you finished studying yet? I told Owen we’d meet him for lunch.”

Simon jumped when he heard his name, smiling uncertainly at the man on the bed. The man looked at him in surprise. “You didn’t tell me you had a little brother, Simon.”

The man sitting at the desk turned around. “Do you mind waiting outside, Chad? I just need another five minutes, and I’ll finish faster if you’re not breathing down my neck.”

“All right, but get a move on. We were supposed to meet Owen ten minutes ago.”

The man strolled out, winking at Simon on his way. As soon as he was gone, the man at the desk jumped to his feet and locked the door. As he did so, Simon looked directly in his face. The cry that had lodged in his throat burst forth.

The man … had his face.

And he was looking right at him.

“This is your first time, isn’t it?” he asked.

“The first time for what?”

The young man laughed delightedly. “I remember it! I remember every detail—those bastards chasing me and throwing rocks …”

Simon felt faint. “Chasing you? Please, what’s going on?”

The young man jerked slightly, almost as though he’d forgotten Simon’s presence. “Damn, I’m breaking the rules. Communication is strictly forbidden.”

“What? You have to tell me …”

“No! There are rules. Ask Mum.”

“My Mum?” Simon asked uncertainly.

Older-Simon laughed uproariously, as though he’d made a joke. “Go on now, scoot. Go back to your own time,” and he snatched his wallet from the table and zipped out the door, apparently forgetting the five minutes of studying he’d intended to do, in his haste to preserve the rule of no communication.

Simon looked after him in consternation. His own time? How was he supposed to know how to get back? He closed his eyes. What had he been thinking when this had happened? He’d been wishing he was older. I wish I was fifteen.

Nope, still in Older-Simon’s room.

He tried to recall his exact actions as he ran away from the bullies. He remembered the pendant thumping against his chest. He had grasped it in his hand, to stop the thumping. Of course, how stupid of him. He plucked the pendant from under his shirt and held it firmly in his hand. I wish I was fifteen.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Charlotte Mendel was born in Nova Scotia and spent three years travelling around the world, working in France, England, Turkey, Israel and India. She is the author of Turn Us Again (Roseway/Fernwood, 2013), which won the H.R. Percy Novel Prize, the Beacon Award for Social Justice, and the Atlantic Book Award in the Margaret and John Savage First Book category. Her second novel, A Hero (Inanna Publications, 2015) was shortlisted for the 2016 William Saroyan International Prize for Writing, and was a Finalist in the 2016 International Book Awards in the General Fiction category. Charlotte currently lives in Enfield with twenty chickens, four goats, three sheep, two cats, two children, one husband and thousands of bees.

This article has been Digiproved © 2021 James Fisher
Acknowledgements: Excerpt courtesy of Charlotte Mendel
Some Rights Reserved  

Watershed by Doreen Vanderstoop

In her debut novel, Watershed, Doreen Vanderstoop envisions a future in which water, a life-giving resource that we take for granted, is not easily obtainable. Indeed, in Alberta in the year 2058, water is being rationed and the government’s scheme for water distribution to the province’s parched southern region is a subject of debate and controversy and even sparks a violent response from a terrorist group determined to preserve Northern Alberta’s water supply. 

“Vanderstoop’s dystopian future is alarming but similar to the present day in which violent conflict can erupt over scarce natural resources.”

The main action of Watershed centres on the Van Bruggen goat farm, located near the southern town of Fort MacLeod. Willa Van Bruggen inherited the farm from her father and feels a primal connection to the land that is shared by her husband Calvin. But this is not the case for their son Daniel, who left the farm to study and as the novel begins has accepted a position as hydrologist with a crown corporation called Crystel. Crystel has been contracted to adapt the pipelines left over from the days of big oil for the purpose of moving water, and also to extend the lines south. But the project is plagued by a lack of trust. People in the north suspect the water distribution scheme is a ruse, and that Crystel’s real objective is to push the pipeline across the US border and sell water to thirsty Americans at enormous profit, leaving the northern supplies depleted. 

Vanderstoop’s dystopian future is alarming but similar to the present day in which violent conflict can erupt over scarce natural resources. Thankfully, she doesn’t focus solely on the politics. 

Willa and Calvin’s dedication to the farm and their struggle to keep it going against mounting odds is the novel’s primary focus, though most readers will recognize early on that it’s a losing proposition. Willa Van Bruggen’s stubborn commitment to the farming life, which is all she knows, seems misguided—driven more by nostalgia than practical considerations—but she remains a character for whom the reader feels great empathy as, in addition to the financial squeeze, she faces a serious health issue, a rift in her relationship with Daniel, and the death of a close friend. 

In the end, Watershed is a suspenseful, thought-provoking, layered and emotionally potent novel informed by science and the looming threat of catastrophic climate change. But it is also written with the human element front and centre, which encourages us to reflect upon the value of honest human striving, knowing when to pack it in, and caring for one another and the things that matter most. 

In addition, and perhaps most indelibly, Doreen Vanderstoop builds her successful first novel around a vision of the future that is frightening and disturbingly plausible.  

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Doreen Vanderstoop is a Calgary-based writer, storyteller and musician. Her short fiction has been published by Loft on Eighth and Prairie Fire and has appeared online at Montreal Serai, Prairie Journal, Epiphany Magazine and others. As a storyteller/musician, she intersperses songs among tales of all genres, including her own original stories. Doreen performs for audiences of all ages at schools, libraries, festivals, conferences and more. She leads workshops to ignite in others a passion for the power of story, oral and written. Watershed is Doreen’s debut novel.

  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Freehand Books (May 2 2020)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Paperback ‏ : ‎ 360 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 1988298598
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1988298597

*The Miramichi Reader encourages you to shop independent! However, shopping at a bookstore is not always possible, so we are supplying an Amazon.ca link. Please note if you choose to purchase this book (or Kindle version) through Amazon using the link below we will receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. If you cannot see the Amazon ad below (if you are using an ad blocker, for instance) here is the link: Thanks! https://amzn.to/2UhKntW

This article has been Digiproved © 2021 James FisherSome Rights Reserved  

The Doomsday Book of Fairy Tales by Emily Brewes

As one might guess from the title, The Doomsday Book of Fairy Tales offers a dystopian setting, but Emily Brewes endows the book with a sense of lightness despite the grim backdrop.

The story is told in first person from the viewpoint of protagonist Jesse Vanderchuck. Jesse is one of those names that could be used for either a male or female, and interestingly, the author has chosen not to specify Jesse’s gender, leaving it up to the reader to interpret. For the purpose of the review, I’ll refer to Jesse as “she” though other readers can draw their own conclusions.

The “Doomsday” portion of the novel’s title relates to the state of the planet after an environmental collapse. Flooding, droughts, blight, wildfires, outbreaks of a new strain of rabies, almost-intolerable summer heat—the list of calamities is a long one, hence the choice of some to retreat underground. Though Jesse’s family tried to make a go of it for a time on their farm outside Trout Creek, Ontario, eventually Jesse, her younger sister Olivia, and her mother made their way to the Underground community, located beneath Toronto. Their father, who felt “the only way he could carry on was to behave as though nothing was wrong,” remained behind.

Jesse lives under Toronto’s Union Station and grubs out a living, as do many of her compatriots, by sifting through refuse heaps in hopes of scavenging items of value that can be traded for food, clothing, or other necessities. By the start of the novel, Jesse is alone. Her mother died just shy of age 50, while her sister lit out at age 12 to try to find out what became of their father.

One day, Jesse runs across a dog in the Underground. By this time in humanity’s evolution, pets are unheard of. There simply aren’t the resources to feed and shelter them. But Jesse decides to keep the dog, who she names Doggo, for company. She needs to sneak him into her home and keep him in hiding, for fear that others in the community will make her give him up or worse, convert him into a menu item.

Not that he looks appetizing. Jesse describes him as “the scrawniest mutt I’d ever seen, with wiry hair in nearly every colour a dog comes in.” Doggo’s physical appearance may not amount to much, but he has other qualities. Doggo is able to talk, although Jesse is the only one who appears to hear him.

The human-canine interaction provides some of the book’s lighter moments. Brewes’ depiction of Doggo’s comments and behaviour suggest a familiarity with the canine persona. Doggo refers to Jesse as “Food Bringer,” and though Doggo is obsessed with food (not surprising, given its scarcity), he is also philosophical about the lack of it, and about life in general. Below is a typical example of the dialogue between Doggo and Jesse:

“I am hungry, Food Bringer.”

“Witness my complete lack of surprise.”

Silence for a second or two while Doggo looked at me, his tongue lolling in a grin. “It is witnessed. Now may we eat?”

Though Doggo comes across as not the sharpest knife in the proverbial drawer, Jesse welcomes his companionship, noting, “It’s easier when there’s someone else, to talk to or to care for. Then the thoughts can reach outward instead of turning on themselves. The lonely brain is a special kind of nightmare.” Partly because she fears what might happen to Doggo if she stays in the Underground, and partly because she has contracted some kind of cough (illness is looked on with great suspicion in the Underground, since many of the diseases formerly eradicated have made a comeback), Jesse decides to head for the surface to see if she can find out what happened to Olivia and her Dad.

“One of the functions of dystopias besides the entertainment value offered by any good work of fiction is their ability to spark a desire not to see that kind of future evolve, and therefore get people to do something about it.”

The rest of the book depicts the results of that quest, while periodically dipping back into Jesse’s past to provide context. The book also includes fairy tales of Jesse’s own creation; hence the reference in the title. Jesse’s motivation for telling stories to Doggo and to herself is multi-pronged. Telling them evokes a sense of nostalgia for a time when her father used to read fairy tales to her. She also finds that telling stories helps to pass the time. Brewes weaves together the multiple facets of the story—past and present, fantasy and reality—deftly enough that I was always able to follow along.

Despite the dark setting, some of the prose is lyrical; for example, in the description of a beach in British Columbia in the opening scene: “Gulls wheeled like shreds of paper being juggled on competing breezes, their gurgling laughter bouncing between sea and sky.” Jesse herself tells the story with plenty of sarcasm and self-deprecating humor. The fact that her quest is a simple and personal one keeps the novel from feeling overly heavy despite the dystopian setting. Some bad things do happen, but Jesse’s detached manner of storytelling helps to blunt the impact. That being said, some readers may find certain events and references disturbing.

One of the functions of dystopias besides the entertainment value offered by any good work of fiction is their ability to spark a desire not to see that kind of future evolve, and therefore get people to do something about it. In the case of The Doomsday Book of Fairy Tales, the warning signs of environmental collapse were there, along with dire prophecies from the likes of David Suzuki. And yet, when everything started to unravel, people spent their time in denial, casting blame, or arguing over what measures ought to be taken, until it was too late.

Will we make the same mistake? Time will tell. Until then, The Doomsday Book of Fairy Tales offers one image of what might lie ahead if humanity plays its cards wrong.


Emily Brewes grew up in the wilds of northern Ontario, where she learned to be afraid of nature, especially bugs. She now writes wistfully of its rugged beauty and haunting landscapes. Emily lives in Kingston, Ontario.

  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Dundurn Press (May 11 2021)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Paperback ‏ : ‎ 296 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 1459747003
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1459747005

*The Miramichi Reader encourages you to shop independent! However, shopping at a bookstore is not always possible, so we are supplying an Amazon.ca link. Please note if you choose to purchase this book (or Kindle version) through Amazon using the link below we will receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. If you cannot see the Amazon ad below (if you are using an ad blocker, for instance) here is the link: https://amzn.to/2TrUThK Thanks! 


This article has been Digiproved © 2021 James FisherSome Rights Reserved  

Blaze Island by Catherine Bush

Blaze Island opens with a Category Five hurricane off one of Newfoundland’s most northern Islands, a ferry ride from Gander. Rain and wind batter the Island and the home of Milan Wells and his daughter. A disturbance from the front door finds a young man, soaked and unconscious.

Catherine Bush tells us a story of the climate changes that threaten the world as we know it. Climatologist Milan Wells escapes to the Island, with his daughter Miranda, grieving for his dead wife and disgraced by the denial of his peers for his warning that the climate is in trouble. Miranda is approaching adulthood. Having lived under her father’s strict rules and secrecy, she questions her father’s intention and her own loneliness. We get an understanding of the past with Miranda’s memories.

Miranda is friends with her father’s assistant, Caleb, who is infatuated with Miranda but she has a new interest with Frank, the visitor stranded on the Island. Other strangers arrive that are wealthy and interested in Well’s ideas of controlling the weather. But nor for any idealistic reason, other than how it can be used to their advantage.

Catherine Bush’s distinctive prose makes the reading enjoyable. One can experience the isolation, the ways of the locals, the revelation of the problems with the climate. She points out a dire situation that climate change could bring and offers us food for thought towards a better future. Her attention to detail and research is evident throughout the novel. People who are concerned about the changes in the climate and how it can affect us will like this story.


  • Paperback : 365 pages
  • ISBN-10 : 1773101056
  • ISBN-13 : 978-1773101057
  • Publisher : Goose Lane Editions (Sept. 1 2020)

*Please note if you choose to purchase this book (or Kindle version) through Amazon using the link below we will receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. If you cannot see the Amazon ad below (if you are using an ad blocker, for instance) here is the link: https://amzn.to/2ScBLAm Thanks! 

This article has been Digiproved © 2020 James FisherSome Rights Reserved  

A Diary in the Age of Water by Nina Munteanu

Categorized as “cli-fi,” or climate fiction, A Diary in the Age of Water depicts an interesting story about four generations of women, and a cautionary tale about what might happen if we fail to respect the importance of water. The prologue of the book takes us to the “dying forest of the north. The last boreal forest in the world,” (p. 5) where a four-armed, blue-skinned entity called Kyo is seeking to resolve one last issue before leaving the planet along with a cadre of her cohorts. We learn that a catastrophe triggered by the Water Twins, unleashing the power of water, caused storms that eradicated humanity from the planet. A diary Kyo unearths in the archives gives us deeper insight into the events leading up to that calamity.

Segments of the diary comprise the meat of the novel. Though the book is clearly a work of fiction, the diary sections, which begin with an entry made April 12, 2045, also weave in facts about water and the environment. Each diary entry is prefaced with a quotation, many of them coming from Robert Wetzel’s Limnology. The diary’s “author,” a character named Lynna, uses these quotations as a springboard for her musings. For example, in a section introduced with a quote from Malcolm Gladwell’s The Tipping Point, Lynna notes:

With exports, water uptakes, and associated loss, the water levels are steadily declining. Once lake levels drop below eighty percent of their historic volume, they will reach a tipping point. After that, the water will never return. That’s how the Great Lakes will become the Great Puddles.” (p. 26)

A Diary in the Age of Water commands reader interest on a number of levels. There is a sense of mystery as we read Lynna’s accounts, seeking to understand what happened to trigger the cataclysmic change that resulted in humanity’s extinction. In the novel, control of Canada’s water resources has been commandeered by the United States, which has diverted a substantial portion of Canada’s western waterways to feed to the southwestern US. Meanwhile, water resources are also being exploited by unscrupulous companies, and environmental de-regulation has allowed corporations to desecrate the environment. The story of evolving water shortages, resulting in stiffer and stiffer quotas, provides a chilling but believable portrayal of what might happen as fresh water becomes scarcer.

Lynna’s personal and professional story as told through her diary is also of interest. She is honest about her own shortcomings, berating herself in her diary with regrets about things she has done in the past, and fretting about her daughter Hilde and about the future of the planet. She also shares memories of happier times spent with her mother Una.

Munteanu’s novel provides a cautionary note for what might happen if we fail to pay attention to this precious resource.

The factual content is explained in an easy-to-understand manner. Line diagrams scattered through the book help to illustrate the concepts. The fact that author Nina Munteanu is herself a freshwater scientists lends the novel a deeper authenticity.

There’s a sense of sadness surrounding the events as Lynna witnesses her quality of life steadily eroding as a result of the environment’s deterioration. That doesn’t mean A Diary in the Age of Water is a depressing read; at least, I did not find it so. Munteanu uses wry humor and irony to good effect, adding to the enjoyability of the book.

Water is one of the most critical factors affecting our well-being, and ultimately, our survival. Munteanu’s novel provides a cautionary note for what might happen if we fail to pay attention to this precious resource. The good news is that the possible future depicted in A Diary in the Age of Water is still far enough away that we can avoid the grim outcomes depicted if we have the will to do so.


  • Paperback : 328 pages
  • ISBN-10 : 1771337370
  • ISBN-13 : 978-1771337373
  • Publisher: Inanna Poetry & Fiction Series (June 18, 2020)

*Please note if you choose to purchase this book (or Kindle version) through Amazon using the link below we will receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. If you cannot see the Amazon ad below (if you are using an ad blocker, for instance) here is the link: https://amzn.to/2S5oLMy Thanks! 

This article has been Digiproved © 2020 James FisherSome Rights Reserved  

Rising Tides: Reflections for Climate Changing Times, edited by Catriona Sandilands

In the introduction to Rising Tides, Sandilands states that climate change stories “focus increasingly on thornier questions of persistence, adaptation, resistance, and renewal” instead of apocalypse. Ultimately, the short fiction, poetry and personal climate testimonies in this climate change anthology are about hope.

“The way rain falls the spring of life seed to root, stem to leaves. Oh trees, weather maker, life shaper, air sweet. Language of snail, moss lichen. Everything returns …” The intricate simplicity and beauty of Hiromi Goto’s language in ‘This is the Way’ particularly resonated with me, reinforcing one of the anthology’s messages to observe and listen to the change around us.

The writers are uniquely and intensely involved with the environment as storytellers, activists, researchers, teachers and passionate observers. Many are Indigenous, people deeply bonded to the land that is changing beneath them. These relationships enhance the authenticity and rawness of the anthology.

“Ultimately, the short fiction, poetry and personal climate testimonies in this climate change anthology are about hope.”

Some of the narratives reflect on the disappearance of small, known species, many of which pass unnoticed. In ‘Absence’ (Elysia French), a child asks if a dead bee had a family. The child’s aunt asks, “What did the death of this singular bee mean for her colony and for the human and non-human networks it supported? In ‘Five Ways to Talk about Twisted Oak Moss’ (Holly Schofield), the narrator seeks a vanishing species and asks what effect it will have if it disappears. She states, “We simply don’t know. When we decide we do need to listen to twisted oak moss, will it still be here?”

Water in its many forms is a common theme. Jamie Snook, in ‘Futures on Ice’, writes how his community in southern Labrador can no longer rely on generations of knowledge to cross winter ice. “Thoughts continually run through our minds about the safety and the thickness, the conditions and quality of the ice we are crossing, knowing what can happen if we have misread the conditions. But the ice also brings a sense of awe. And the ice brings us to places that we love, and every year we hope for good ice–ice the way it has always been.”

“Rising Tide’s power is in the rereading and reflecting on the messages within.”

I read this book while the COVID-19 epidemic was/is raging through the world. It was impossible not to intertwine these two challenges in my mind. An editorial in The Narwhal magazine recently stated, “The story of COVID-19 is at its core, a story of humanity’s ever-encroaching relationship with all other living things on this planet.” The same is true of climate change. The contributors to Rising Tides question, provoke, express personal emotion and invite change. What transpires in the future depends on us.

In ‘All Our Relations: Climate Change Storytellers’, Deborah McGregor and Hillary McGregor say we need to “act on the stories being told by the earth.”

These are not stories to be consumed at one sitting. Rising Tide’s power is in the rereading and reflecting on the messages within.

Contributors include: Catriona Sandilands (editor and writer), Carleigh Baker, Stephen Collis, Ashlee Cunsolo, Ann Eriksson, Rosemary Georgeson, Hiromi Goto, Laurie D. Graham, David Huebert, Sonnet L’Abbé, Timothy Leduc, Christine Lowther, Kyo Maclear, Emily McGiffin, Deborah McGregor, Philip Kevin Paul, Richard Pickard, Holly Schofield, Betsy Warland, Evelyn White, Rita Wong and many more.

Rising Tides: Reflections for Climate Changing Times, edited by Catriona Sandilands
Caitlin Press

*Please note if you choose to purchase this book (or Kindle version) through Amazon using the link below we will receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. If you cannot see the Amazon ad below (if you are using an ad blocker, for instance) here is the link: https://amzn.to/2WQb085 Thanks!

This article has been Digiproved © 2020 James FisherSome Rights Reserved  

The Wintermen & The Wintermen II: Into the Deep Dark by Brit Griffin

Summertime is a good time to read about a country in permanent winter, right? Or would the story go better if one were warm and dry inside during a blizzard? It likely wouldn’t matter for The Wintermen books penned by Brit Griffin are so good, you’ll forget about the weather for a while.

The concept is that a permanent winter has descended far enough south that people need to be relocated because the government cannot afford to maintain any type of services such as electricity and such for those that want to stay. So the government outsources the task of relocating people and resources south to Talos, a security company. However, Talos has their own way of doing things and is happy enough to kill people rather than forcibly remove them. Nice, eh? So one day, a man named Johnny Slaught takes action against a Talos employee that shoots a worker in cold blood for stealing a warm set of gloves.

The old Fraser Hotel (at Right), Cobalt, Ontario

A fellow worker with Johnny is Chumboy Commando, an Algonquin who joins him in the rebellion. Thus begins the legend of the “Wintermen” as many follow the two into forming a small community established in the Fraser Hotel in Cobalt, Ontario.

Of course, the government nor Talos is impressed by the actions of the Wintermen, so they send a crack team of assassins to eliminate Johnny Slaught and establish control in the area.

The Wintermen II: Into the Deep Dark, is a fine sequel as the community, struggling to persist in an old building with no electricity, is now the target of several people who think there is a stash of gold in the area of Cobalt that the Wintermen are sitting on. Prime amongst them is Bodie Dejohn, a mean SOB if there ever was one. Of course, the Wintermen have no idea about the gold and are caught in the middle of all these groups that think they have it, or at least know where it is. The mood is especially dark and the atmosphere tense in the sequel. I would recommend reading the first book before tackling the second just so you are more familiar with all the characters. Be warned though: while there is not a lot of violence, there is a plethora of F-bombs. There’s a lot of angry people in the Wintermen books, aside from Johnny, who is a reluctant leader and Chumboy, who is no Tonto-type sidekick, as he is quick to remind Johnny that this is Algonquin territory, always has been and always will be.

I really enjoyed the idea of a permanent type of winter environment in these two books (“Cli-Fi” is the new genre of fiction books with climate change as their focus). The “whys” of climate change are not deeply explored in The Wintermen, merely trying to survive on wood heat while hunting and scavenging vacated homes for supplies (especially coffee, tea and gasoline) takes all their time. They are essentially cut off from the outside world so they know little of what’s happening. They hope for some sign of Spring while trying to survive day-to-day.

If people would just leave them alone.

I certainly hope there is a Book III forthcoming!

“The Wintermen II: Into the Deep Dark continues the fast-paced saga of the first book and adds a new layer of nail-biting climate angst.” – Dan Bloom, editor, The Cli-Fi Report

The Wintermen Series is written by Brit Griffin
Latitude 46 Publishing

*Please note if you choose to purchase this book through Amazon using the link above I will receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. If you cannot see the Amazon ad (if you are using an ad blocker, for instance) here is the link: https://amzn.to/2Pm9CnC Thanks!

This article has been Digiproved © 2018 James FisherSome Rights Reserved  

Mountain by Ursula Pflug

Ursula Pflug is the award-winning author of the novels Green Music; The Alphabet Stones and the story collections After the Fires and Harvesting the Moon. She has been shortlisted or nominated for many awards and currently lives in Norwood, Ontario. Her latest novel is Mountain (2017, Inanna Publications)

Mountain is a novel (but at only 98 pages, more of a novella) that tells the story of seventeen-year-old Camden O’Connor, a girl who lives in two worlds due to her parents’ separation. Her father Lark is a minor rock star based out of Toronto. When with her Dad, she is the typically spoiled city girl with all-access to her father’s credit cards. Life with her mother Laureen is decidedly different: she is a member of “The Tribe” a nomadic collective community that lives off the grid (for the most part) along the west coast and elsewhere in the U.S. and Canada. Laureen is a self-proclaimed “hardware geek” and it is her main responsibility to set up Internet access for the community. This is where Mountain begins: in Northern California during the spring thaw, the snow is melting and the ground is thawing, giving the area of the encampment a Woodstock-like vibe. Everything is either wet or muddy or both. In a few days, Laureen leaves Camden at the camp to go to San Francisco pressing a $50 bill in her hand (“not that you’ll need it; I’ll only be gone overnight”) and is gone.

The full review of Mountain can be read at the Consumed by Ink book blog: https://consumedbyink.ca/2017/06/26/guest-post-a-review-of-mountain-by-ursula-pflug/


This article has been Digiproved © 2017-2018 James FisherSome Rights Reserved