Monday, December 11, 2017

Cladistic poetry

The evolutionary metaphor at the heart of Clade works very well, acting as a structural linking device between several stories.  Action proceeds from one thing to the next metonymically, but the cladistic device really moves this novel to the next level, the metaphorical, revolving around an autistic child, and as the action moves forward young adult, named Noah (Roberts, 2017:

The 'everydayness' of the novel works very well, introducing a depth-sounding of emotions in real-time as relationships between the various protagonists develop.  This is a wholesome text: the only antagonists are natural disasters, the two most prominent being a massive flood that nearly takes out the young Noah, his mother, and grandfather in one fell swoop; and a global disease outbreak.

The latter lasts longer in terms of the novel's action, and as an event comes to structure it more.  Billions, it would seem, are wiped out by disease, and at the same time flood waters continue to rise, to the point where whole cities become islands, with buildings poking above the new global sea level like a true water-world.  It is this world into which Noah evolves, as a person.

The future, it would seem, was made for people like Noah, in a way.  This is because the new protagonists, nice uber-folk like Noah, need science and technology to make out the shape of things to come.  And also, to make contact with other-worldly intelligence, it just turns out.  We are not alone in the universe, thankfully, and this should hopefully be reassuring.

We never really know though, and the adumbrations of Clade are mostly left that way: shadows of a future full of AI, self-driving cars, and people acting ethically to inform each other when privacy might be breached by all-pervasive virtual/augmented reality feeds.  These really are standard fare now in sci-fi (see previous reviews of Roberts and McAuley).

This is a vision of now and it is a reliable guide to the current mood.  It works well at several levels: at capturing that mood; and what popular opinion thinks our world will look like in the future (climate changed, self-driving, virtually addicted or at least co-dependent).  It will probably look not much like this but I think the relationships might.

This is really where the novel shines. (Clade, by James Bradley, and published by Titan Books)

No comments:

Post a Comment