The biblical noah's story was enjoyably and earthily retold in david maine's The Preservationist (2004; in Britain as The Flood in which you get a real sense of how it would be to share in a universe with an intervening god, and restaged by hollywood. The latter has its fun moments, but as (the for me uncomfortably near-homonymous) evan Baxter is bullied by god (Morgan Freeman) into building an ark to escape a flood caused by a corrupt congressman's dodgy dam, there is a sense of moral confusion, and the. There have been a number of genre depictions of global floods. I grew up with stories of pesky aliens mucking about with the weather. In the pages of the gerry Anderson 'newspaper of the future' tv century 21 (issues 45-51, november 1965 to january 1966 'world weather Chaos! Ocean levels Rising screamed the headline on issue 46, as the polar ice melted and the flood waters rose to thirty feet around Big Ben. And in a captain Scarlet tie-in novel by john Theydon (1967) Mysteronised weather control systems drench London in a tropical storm, catching Scarlet and Rhapsody Angel in Trafalgar Square.
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Ambiguity abounds; when the dreamers try to return we are unsure what is real and what isn't, and in evening the end the dreamers transfer themselves permanently into what was initially presented as a fantasy. This book was written at the time of Priest's stories of the 'dream dbq Archipelago which Priest says he conceived of as 'more an idea than an actual place' but 'a kind of fusion of the Channel Islands and Greece, with bits of Harrow-on-the-hill and. Priest's islands are places far from the centre of affairs, decided between great nations on the continents; thus in 'Whores' (1978) the Archipelago is used as a vast brothel by troops from either side, and in 'The watched' (1978) the island's future is. Priest visited the Archipelago again in The Affirmation (1981 in which a londoner, through writing a fictional biography of himself, is transferred to the Archipelago, in this imagining tens of thousands of seductive 'islands of the mind' (Chapter 22). We are left unsure what is real, who is sane. Such stories bring out other aspects of islands in our minds, the exotic, the alluring, the remote. Islands are microcosms of evolutionary and social experimentation, from Atlantis to Utopia through Moreau's island and Golding's Lord of the Flies, to the nameless setting of Lost. An England reduced to an archipelago is the familiar made strange, the powerful reduced to the peripheral. And what of the wider world? A global flood is an ur-myth of our culture, and remains alive today.
In some ways this book foreshadows not so much the polite wyndhamesque british catastrophes of later decades but more the American survivalist dramas like niven and pournelle's Lucifer's Hammer (1977). We get the vivid catastrophe, the early struggle to survive in which the characters shed their 'civilised' restraints, and the crude emergence of a lawful community under the command of a strong man. There is a strong flavour of social Darwinism, as 'the men most biography fitted to the new conditions should become the fathers of the next generation' (book iv, ii). Again Wright follows Jefferies in his contempt for the British civilisation of his times, which he regards as 'the most elaborate system of mutual slavery that the world has ever known' (Prelude). As in so many such books you get the sense Wright is longing for something to come and smash everything. Deluge won critical acclaim, and in 1933 was made into a hollywood movie - with the action reset to new York, and a more conventional love story tying everything up neatly. Islands and archipelagos need not be dystopias. In Christopher Priest's a dream of Wessex (1977) the eponymous dream is a virtual-reality-like shared 'projection' of a future two centuries ahead in which Wessex has been severed from the mainland by 'catastrophic earthquakes and land subsidence' (chapter 4) and, in a world shared out.
What about the rest of the country? If London drowns, type it's commonly imagined that upland England might become something of an archipelago. In Deluge (1928 by uk writer. Fowler Wright, 'the slightest tremor' (Prelude) on a plan global scale has inundated much of the planet. Subsequently the protagonists struggle to survive on the scattered islands that is all that remains of the cotswolds. Deluge is quite remarkable for a book written by a 46-year-old English accountant in 1920 (though not self-published until some years later). The detail is relentless and graphic, the violence brutal, even the threat of rape explicit enough, and the final polygamy shocking.
Eventually he has his formless anger committed to a metal book, and buries it in his ex-wife's garden. The distant Future is separated from the past by a tremendous but unexplained flood that has reduced England to an archipelago called Ing. A hateful new culture has been constructed based entirely on dave's dug-up and endlessly copied rantings (by comparison, jefferies' lakeside dwellers preserved Sophocles). Much of the dialogue is in 'mokni a descendant of Cockney spiced with dave's cabbie lingo rendered either in phonetics or in a kind of text-speak: 'ware 2, guv?' And a new London is being constructed based on dave's cabbie's 'Knowledge a kind of verbal. Genre fans will surely be reminded of Walter m miller's a canticle for liebowitz (1960 which shows to similar satirical purpose a post-fall society constructing a religion based on a fragment of a shopping list, and Russell Hoban's classic Riddley walker (1980 a story. I'm not aware if Self has acknowledged liebowitz as a source, but he penned an introduction to an edition of Walker. As sf dave isn't terribly convincing; it's hard to imagine our descendants being quite so dumb. But dave is at heart a dense, earthy portrait of London itself, a city seen 'spreading to the far hills of the south in brick peak after tarmac trough, blood-orange under the dying sun' (Chapter 14).
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Only the rediger truly innocent are spared: in the end, a couple of kids learn are swept across from gee's city into our London, emerging in the sunshine of Kew Gardens. A flooded London is a favourite scenario of our modern satirists and utopians, or dystopians. Blind faith (2007) is a dystopian future extrapolated from some current trends, albeit with a rather thick pencil: post-diana-like 'emotional fascism the destruction of privacy, the noise, clamour and general mob hysteria of modern life, and, more bravely, the abandonment of reason and a flight. The narrative is based self-consciously on Orwell's 1984 (namechecked in the book as the hero, trafford, struggles to survive with his identity intact, has his daughter covertly vaccinated, and falls in love with a mysterious woman who finally betrays him. The book ends on a note of hope as Trafford is burned alive at the climax of a live aid-like wembley concert, amid signs that his protestations for reason are taking root.
The book is forceful but lacks grace, subtlety and plausibility; it feels like 1984 rewritten by a grumpy old man. And the setting is a flooded London: 'finchley was not an easy place for Trafford to get to, as it involved crossing lake london with his bicycle and disembarking at the paddington jetty ' (Chapter 21). It's all our fault; it got this way because we melted the ice caps by burning our fossil fuels, and London itself is a kind of punishment, horribly crowded and overrun with the plagues that take the children. Will Self's, the book of dave: a revelation of the recent Past and the distant Future (2006) is another archipelagian dystopia. In the recent Past, dave is a forty-something London cabbie, maddened by dodgy anti-depressants and his separation from his son.
After London, not yet forty; sf is always a projection of the author's own time, of his or her own concerns. And as a naturalist Jefferies is very precise on the recovery of nature in the absence of man; he opens with a description of the kind of grasses which colonise abandoned fields. A profound response to jefferies is Brian Aldiss's. Spaceborne nuclear tests have sterilised mankind, and as the last childless generations age, civilisation steadily breaks down. The Thames is naturally dammed at Goring, and an inland 'sea of Barks' (Berkshire) is formed.
But this is a symptom of nature reviving, and, amid an earthy story of a world of cantankerous old people, the book is studded with vivid pastoral descriptions which recall Jefferies, as well as a long perspective reminiscent of hg wells. The fecundity of nature is itself a source of hope, with or without humanity: 'The ascendancy of man had only momentarily affected the copiousness of this stream of life' (Chapter 7). Maggie gee's more abstract, the Flood (Saqi, 2004) is set in her alternate london of earlier books like. The White family, a city centred on Victory Square not Trafalgar, governed not by Blair but 'Bliss'. The science is ropy: the flood may have been caused by a planetary alignment, a concern more astrological than astronomical in our universe, or perhaps by the approach of a comet. But the book is rich on specific detail as people try to progress their ordinary lives of work and child-rearing, of ambition and love and folly, as the gathering waters flood out basements and block roads. As in Jefferies there is again a sense of judgement.
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The earth is convulsed by the passage of an 'Unknown Orb 'it became green everywhere in the first spring, after London ended' (Chapter I). Abandoned London becomes a noxious swamp that dams the Thames, and entry southern England is drowned by an immense inland sea called the lake, around which a brutal medieval society huddles behind stockades. The most compelling passages describe a heart-of-darkness journey into the carcass of London itself, a lethal landscape where the beach is black, the air yellow and the sun blood red; 'all the rottenness of a thousand years and of many hundred millions of human beings. It is a relief to retreat to the lake, which represents beauty, harmony and freedom. The book has to be seen against the background of late-victorian distrust of industrial civilisation, as expressed in works like morris's. News from Nowhere (1890). What was different about Jefferies was that as a farmer's son he was under no illusion that a post-apocalypse return to a medieval past would be in some way better than the present; he had lived through a dreadful agricultural depression in the 1870s. But at the same time he expresses an intense dislike of London itself. He may have blamed the city for the consumption that was killing him while he worked.
gritty and surprisingly tough; people get killed. This modern watery anxiety may be a result of the very real threat flooding has always posed to london, whose rivers have been constrained and overbuilt since roman times. The Thames Barrier was built in response to catastrophic flooding in 1953. Since then climate-change predictions of sea level rises have invalidated some of the barrier's design assumptions, and after decades of development some one and a quarter million people now live on the capital's flood plain. But fictional depictions of the flooding of the capital go back a long way before 1953. The ur-text of London latherings is surely richard Jefferies' astonishing. After London, or, wild England (1885).
Sunstorm (Gollancz, 2005 but in, flood (Gollancz, june 2008) I'm drowning. I have observed, in fact, a persistent tendency to submit the place to ordeals, not by fire, but by water. A very literal depiction of the drowning of modern London is Richard doyle's. Flood (Century, 2002) (this in fact an update of an earlier pre-barrier novel called. In this fat technothriller a north sea storm surge overwhelms the barrier and drowns the heart of London - the latter stages accompanied by a disastrous fire reviews that starts among the downstream oil refineries. The research is meticulous, and it's all rather exciting, but setting the river on fire over-eggs the pudding. A poorly received movie of the book was released in 2007.
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The Flooding of London, top, i'm not a londoner; I was born and raised two hundred miles away. And yet, as for many Britons, much of my life has night been dominated by the city. I commuted to work there for four years, and London is the centre of the uk publishing industry, as of so much else. Sometimes it feels as if London is too big for Britain, the capital of a world empire now vanished. Just like new York and tokyo, london has come in for its share of genre battering, from alien invasion. Hg wells's The war of the worlds (1897) to desiccation in the rather fine 1961 movie. The day the earth caught Fire (dir. I suppose my own ambivalent relationship with London has come out in my fiction. With Sir Arthur c clarke, i saved it from fire.