I was one of those despicable climate protestors blocking the Perth CBD yesterday. I hate inconveniencing people, but this is an emergency. I was feeling dread in the days leading up to the protest. For security reasons, there weren’t many details given out to rank-and-file protestors like me about what we were going to do. And you never know how the police are going to act. They can be fair and respectful to protestors or they can play hardball and be unpredictable. And who was going to look after the kids if we both got arrested? Continue reading
It was humbling to be led by school students, born this century, in the Global Climate Strike on Friday. But also inspiring. The turnout in Perth was estimated at 10,000, and Forrest Place was filled to the brim. Even this impressive turnout was overtaken by smaller cities, Hobart and Canberra, but that’s just a sign of how big this day was, how many people are concerned enough to make a stand. Continue reading
Dear Mr Irons,
We’re writing to you as our representative in parliament. The biggest issue for us is climate change, and we are so upset by the path your government is taking. We don’t feel that you’re committed to taking real action to reduce emissions. Coal is the worst possible energy source to be investing in at the moment. As new parents with a young son, we are deeply offended by Scott Morrison’s stunt with a lump of coal in parliament as Australia faces more extreme weather. Please, for the sake of our toddler and all of our futures, take some courageous action on climate change. We would welcome an emissions trading scheme and more renewables. We want to be proud of Australia leading the way for the world.
Yours sincerely, Nathan and Nicole Hobby
A Wrong Turn at the Office of Unmade Lists / Jane Rawson (Transit Lounge, 2013)
Wrong Turn is set on the streets of a semi-post-apocalyptic Melbourne in 2030. Climate change has displaced many and made life difficult for those eking out an existence under the glare of the sun in a world with little water and many ways to die. The main character is Caddy, a thirty-three year old aspiring writer who does what she can (including casual prostitution) to eat and drink. The early chapters of her wheeling and dealing in errands and squabbles over five dollars as she sits in a hot bar sparring with the bartender reminded me of the feel of Thomas Disch’s 334 and some of Philip K. Dick’s work (besides the mindbending which everyone focuses on, PKD was a chronicler of the little person surviving the future). Rawson has brought to life the underclass of the near future, with its mix of boredom and menace.
To do this as successfully as she has would have been plenty enough to accomplish in a novel, but Rawson attempts much, much more. Without losing its tethering in this ruined Melbourne, the focus begins to turn to the characters Caddy is writing about, two orphaned teenagers attempting to travel through every twenty-five foot square of the USA, a task that will take them ninety years at their current pace. (I love a quixotic project like this; there is a whole other novel worthy of Paul Auster or George Perec here.) Without giving away too many of the twists, the novel shifts into the territory of writer-meets-characters and the Gap, a meta-realm which could have come from a Stephen King novel. For my taste, it’s territory which has already been overexplored, but Rawson’s take on it is quite fresh.
Wrong Turn is a distinctly Australian novel, compelling as a portrait of life as climate change hits and of the petty concerns, dreams, losses and consolations that make up the fabric of existence, as through the eyes of Caddy, a winsome character. The author blogs here; you can read her reflections on the writing life, including her work-in-progress, a non-fiction guide to surviving climate change.