Stillicide

Cynan Jones. Catapult, $15.95 trade paper (176p) ISBN 978-1-64622-013-7
Welsh writer Jones’s haunting and lucidly written latest (after The Long Dry) is set in a bleak future where water is so precious that a Yorkshire city has fashioned an “ice dock” to trap an iceberg it has dragged down from the Arctic. The archaic word stillicide, an apt title for the book, is defined as both a constant dripping and a law designating the dispersal of water from the wealthy to the “servient.” This latter meaning mirrors the novel’s plot, with cities controlling meager water supply and rural areas struggling to survive as they lose residents. The story receives unique resonance from its multiple perspectives, among them a conflicted soldier named John Branner, who works tirelessly to protect the ice dock from activists bent on sabotage; retired engineer David, who left the chaos of the city with his family to observe the devastation; and a character called “the professor,” who studies the protests and the ice dock, as well as native fauna (a thriving dragonfly, which could affect government plans, surprises and excites him). Terse, often poetic sentences surrounded by white space develop a rhythm, suggesting both an inevitability and a resignation. Jones’s visionary tale is a singular, brilliantly crafted addition to the climate fiction genre. Agent: Euan Thorneycroft, A.M. Heath Literary. (Nov.)
Reviewed on : 08/25/2020
Release date: 11/17/2020
Genre: Fiction
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