blog tour, books, reviews

Blog Tour: The Forcing – Paul E. Hardistry

Civilisation is collapsing… Frustrated and angry after years of denial and inaction, in a last-ditch attempt to stave off disaster, a government of youth has taken power in North America, and a policy of institutionalised ageism has been introduced. All those older than the prescribed age are deemed responsible for the current state of the world, and are to be ‘relocated’, their property and assets confiscated. David Ashworth, known by his friends and students as Teacher, and his wife May, find themselves among the thousands being moved to ‘new accommodation’ in the abandoned southern deserts – thrown together with a wealthy industrialist and his wife, a high court lawyer, two recent immigrants to America, and a hospital worker. Together, they must come to terms with their new lives in a land rendered unrecognisable. As the terrible truth of their situation is revealed, lured by rumours of a tropical sanctuary where they can live in peace, they plan a perilous escape. But the world outside is more dangerous than they could ever have imagined. And for those who survive, nothing will ever be the same again…

Canadian Paul Hardisty has spent twenty-five years working all over the world as an environmental scientist and freelance journalist. He has roughnecked on oil rigs in Texas, explored for gold in the Arctic, mapped geology in Eastern Turkey (where he was befriended by PKK rebels), and rehabilitated water wells in the wilds of Africa. He was in Ethiopia in 1991 as the Mengistu regime fell, survived a bomb blast in a café in Sana’a in 1993, and was one of the last Westerners out of Yemen at the outbreak of the 1994 civil war. In 2022 he criss-crossed Ukraine reporting on the Russian invasion. Paul is a university professor and CEO of the Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS). The four novels in his Claymore Straker series, The Abrupt Physics of Dying, The Evolution of Fear, Reconciliation for the Dead and Absolution, all received great critical acclaim and The Abrupt Physics of Dying was shortlisted for the CWA John Creasey (New Blood) Dagger and a Telegraph Book of the Year. Paul drew on his own experiences to write Turbulent Wake, an extraordinary departure from his high-octane, thought-provoking thrillers. Paul is a keen outdoorsman, a conservation volunteer, and lives in Western Australia.

My thoughts: this was really interesting, climate crisis fiction is increasingly becoming a genre all of its own and the ideas being put forward about the fate of our precious little planet are powerful and often quite distressing.

In this, people are sent away to alternative housing when they reach a certain age. Teacher is now at that point – and younger than I am, so I’d be gone already.

What he and wife Meg (who I found very hard to like) find is not a quiet, pleasant place, but akin to a work camp, described by some as a concentration camp, although maybe not as horrific as the ones we would most commonly think of from the Holocaust.

The residents have to share flats with strangers, are given poor rations and made to work in reclamation plants. Each generation is blaming the one before it. Even Teacher’s son, who works for the government, blames them, the phrase “you will never be forgiven” gets used by several characters.

Teacher escapes the camp and heads south, towards the equator, where things are rumoured to be better. His adventures getting to Belize are shocking and his resilience and determined nature are all that keep him alive. He refuses to always see the worst in others and protects Francoise as best he can as they, and Argent (a super wealthy creep) run from survivalists, religious nutcases and the future.

Interspersed with entries in Teacher’s future journal from, I think, Australia, which show us an alternative way of living in the world post climate apocalypse, the story is a gripping, harrowing, thrill ride.

As someone who cares deeply about the planet, about the damage we’ve done as poor caretakers, and who does what she can for the environment, this was a difficult read. But it needed to be, too many are complacent and think that they personally can’t do anything. And that’s the point – instead of going “what am I supposed to do?” and not holding to account big corporations or governments, we, like Teacher and his friends, are sleepwalking into a grim future. Books like this aim to shake us awake.

*I was kindly gifted a copy of this book in exchange for taking part in the blog tour but all opinions remain my own.