Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Dystopian Realities

I finished The Last Thousand Days by Patrick McGuinness on Monday night, but have read little since. It is the sort of book that is so powerful that I feel I need a gap between it and what comes next; a space to think and let my thoughts settle before I embarked on anything else. The last half of the book turned into a thriller, with everyone in the pocket of everyone else, and there was an overwhelming sense of things falling apart. I found it unsettling, and I kept comparing what happened in Romania in 1989 with what happened in London in 2011.

One of the ways the people of Romania first made their views felt was by rioting. They were looting too, but out of desperation rather than greed. The reaction of the police was key, and this was how what happened in Romania was different from what happened in London: in some places the police tried to stop it, in others they looked the other way, and in yet others they joined in. I suppose this was the most obvious sign that law and order had truly broken down. I learnt a lot, and I felt that the soulless and constant struggle for life in this depressing and austere place came over very well. The love stories and deceptions were convincing, and all the more devastating for that.

It ties in with some of what I've read in Six Degrees. Mark Lynas envisions a time when habitable land is diminished and there are climate refugees no longer able to coax any sort of sustenance from the parched soil. He envisions wars, and struggles for territory. I suppose things could be as bad, if not worse, than Communist Romania. Nothing is available. People struggle every day to survive, and they blame - not the people in charge, but the profligate people that went before. That is, us.

Having read all that, it seems sensible to continue my reading with another non-fiction book: The Global Warming Survival Kit by Brian Clegg. I hope it will suggest a way of coping with what now feels like an impending catastrophe.


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