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Frank goes paleolithic
on 14 October 2009
Frank Vanderwal goes Paleolithic in Washington DC, living in a tree-house in Rock Creek Park, a tranche of recently flooded and devastated wild land in the middle of the city. Washington is reeling from the horrendous recent weather conditions that have produced chronic real estate shortages. Frank is a realist - he has all the modern accoutrements to survive, whatever happens.
Fifty Degrees Below is a catastrophe novel which has tremendously good credentials. Robinson knows the theory behind global warming and he sites his novel at the heart of America's National Science Foundation, with a group of people, including Frank, who just might have the solution to the problem. Or one of several solutions, as it happens. It is also election-year and a credible candidate who has all the right ecological ideas has arisen and is muddying the political waters.
In this discomforting thriller, we are given a kind of treatise of what to expect when the earth's carbon resources are approaching critical depletion because of the warming effect of greenhouse gases. In approachable prose we learn some of the reasons why this results in - not warming but freezing. Those with an interest in environmental disaster scenarios will be well and truly hooked. There is a visit to a devastated Tibetan refugee enclave as well as intriguing side plots, one of which involves a teasing love-affair with a woman whose husband is a master of the black arts of metal bit technology and data mining. Robinson manages a wide and disparate number of plot-lines with consummate ease.
Fifty Degrees Below lives up to its chilling title and is a very good read.