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The Drowned World: 10/12/13

cover art

The Drowned World by J.G. Ballard is a speculative fiction piece about global warming. Here, the warming has come from fluxuations in solar flare activity, but given modern understanding of greenhouse gasses, one could easily imagine a different cause.

The main character is one of a group of scientists exploring the remains of large cities for survivors and to survey the changing ecosystems. The main character is old enough to have lived through the rising waters and he can recognizing the places he visits even through the high waters and numerous tropical vines.

I read The Drowned World on the heals of On the Beach by Nevil Shute (review coming). While that one is about the death of humanity from nuclear fallout, there is still a thematic kinship. Both show people in the remains of well-known cities as life winds down. Here, though, these urban centers are ghost towns from the rising waters and people fleeing to high ground, and cooler climes. Those who stay behind are the stubborn outliers, the opportunists who see something in the ruins and jungles that the average person doesn't.

On it's 50th anniversary, the book has been optioned for filming by the same company who did the Harry Potter films. Though the characterization is rather lacking, there are some very strong visuals — the encroaching gardens, the large insects, the drowned streets with leaning peeks of skyscrapers rising above the murky water. I suspect the film will keep the visuals and turn the rather quiet plot into something with lots of running and lots of giant insect monsters jumping out of the ruins.

Three stars

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