Reading the Summer Away

Having just finished nearly all of the John Le Carré novels, I thought I would turn to something just as dystopian (Le Carré's are not in that genre, even though sometimes they feel that way) but more fun. The future inundation of the planet sounded like a good time. So I went with a promising title, After the Flood, by Kassandra Montag. Unfortunately, I can’t recommend it. The drama is a little Hallmark Special for me, and the world building is lovely but not at all realistic. The world’s seas would not be this clean and clear and full of fish this soon after flooding a planet filled with oil wells and rusting cars, not to mention nuclear plants … well, why go on. And remember that even now we have floating islands of plastics roaming the seas. But then I’m only about halfway through, so maybe they can still encounter one. Maybe a floating continent or two? At the moment they are noodling south along the Andes, looking for trading colonies and nearly running aground on the smaller peaks. Life goes on.

I’ll finish reading it, but I won’t put a review on Amazon. There are people out there who might enjoy it. I can see that. I’m still looking for an *interesting* dystopian book dealing with the catastrophic changes that will come with climate change and different human responses to it. Fiction. Any suggestions?

The other one, the bathroom book, is Eric Cline’s 1177 BC: The Year Civilization Collapsed, is lots of fun for those of us who can’t resist ancient history. It is not, as I at first feared, a fictionalization of an imagined history, as the title might imply. It is, instead, a meticulous look at the letters sent between monarchs of the ancient world, letters chiseled onto clay tablets and baked before sending, letters which describe a world of international trade, diplomatic missions, and marriages between the nations of Egypt, Crete, the Myceneans, and the Hittite Empire.

Say to Nibmuareya [Amenhotep III], the king of Egypt, my brother: Thus [says] Tushratta, the king of Mitanni, your brother. For me, all goes well. For you, may all go well. For Kelu-Hepa [your wife], may all go well. For your household, for your wives, for your sons, for your magnates [chief men], for your warriors, for your horses, for your chariots, and in your country, may all go very well …

I herewith send you 1 chariot, 2 horses, 1 male attendant, 1 female attendant, from the booty from the land of Hatti. As the greeting gift of my brother, I send you 5 chariots, 5 teams of horses. And as the greeting gift of Kelu-Hepa, my sister, I send her 1 set of gold toggle-pins, 1 set of gold earrings 1 gold masu-ring, and a scent container that is full of ‘sweet oil.’

There are many such letters that date from the 15th to the 12th centuries B.C. that were found in the ruins of cities destroyed sometime after 1177 B.C. These, together with marine archaeology carried out on various shipwrecks that date to those centuries and archaeological excavations carried out at the various sites which were active cultural centers during that time, paint a vivid picture of people who lived, acted, and communicated in ways that we can understand today.

They are, in other words, us.

And, like us, there were weaknesses in their systems, in their networks, that could not stand against an enemy that even we know only as the Sea Peoples. I still have half of the book to go. I wonder if Cline has an answer.