Greenhouse - New Science Fiction on Climate Change
Edited by Gordon Van Gelder
Cover Artist: Eric Drooker's The Maze
Review by Sam Tomaino
OR Books Trade Paperback ISBN/ITEM#: 9781935928270
Date: 24 January 2011 / Publisher's Website / Show Official Info /
Greenhouse is an anthology of 'New Science Fiction on Climate Change' and has stories by Brian W. Aldiss, Jeff Carlson, Judith Moffett, Matthew Hughes, Gregory Benford, Michael Alexander, Bruce Sterling, Joseph Green, Pat MacEwen, Alan Dean Foster, David Prill, George Guthridge, Paul Di Filippo, Chris Lawson, Ray Vukcevich, and M.J. Locke.
Gordon Van Gelder has edited a collection of stories called Greenhouse, billed as an anthology of "New Science Fiction on Climate Change". The stories are varied in subject and viewpoint and are quite enjoyable.
The volume begins with "Benkoelen" by Brian W. Aldiss. Coyne makes a journey to Benkoelen, a rocky island fifty miles southwest of Sumatra. There is an orangutan reserve there, run by his sister Cass. The rising seas have made life difficult for everyone, something well-illustrated by this bittersweet little tale.
Jeff Carlson's "Damned When You Do" is told from the point of view of a man named Jack Shofield, whose son. Albert, started rolling around the world from the moment he was born. He appears to be able to stop the Earth's motion, or just change its speed. He has a profound effect on the world, positive and negative. The story takes place over years. I thought this one was just Okay.
"The Middle of Somewhere" by Judith Moffett is a beautiful story, taking place in 2014, so more or less present day. Kaylee is a fifteen-year-old girl living in northern Kentucky. She is participating in a NestWatch project at the home of Jane, an old woman living in the middle of nowhere, out in the country, very simply and trying to have the least effect on the environment. When a tornado hits, Kaylee learns something about the virtues of Jane's lifestyle.
Matthew Hughes contributes "Not a Problem" which introduces Bunker Hill Sansom, a very rich man who decides to solve climate change by asking some extraterrestrials what to do. He puts billions into SETI projects. He gets some aliens who say "Not a problem". I won't say how this one ends, but that it was a real hoot.
Gregory Benford contributes his usual thoughtful story in "Eagle". Elinor is an environmental activist in a near future in which warming has already had a pronounced effect. The US government is going to try a way to set up a SkyShield which might slow or reverse the melting of the Arctic. That's not good enough for Elinor and her compatriots. She wanted people to stop using fossil fuels and not find another way out. She means to sabotage the project. This was an especially good story that showed that issues could be more complex than one might think.
"Come Again Some Other Day" by Michael Alexander is a hilarious, wild piece about climate change being partly caused because someone from the future moved their bad climate to our present. This sets the people in the present to moving climate to the past and future. Our protagonists, realizing that this is getting things nowhere finds another place to send bad climate. This one was a great deal of fun to read.
"The Master of the Aviary" in the story by Bruce Sterling is Mellow Julian Nebraska who lives in the city of Selder (which is short for "The Resilient, Survivable, Sustainable, Shelter"), a city built at the sunset of a more enlightened age, 1000 years ago. Julian is a philosopher and teacher and delivers great lectures to his students. Selder is run by a Godfather, a leader chosen by a group known as the Men in Red. Things change for Julian when one Godfather dies and another is chosen. This was a fascinating and imaginative look at some future society.
"Turtle Love" by Joseph Green is set on 2032, when advancing waters are starting to envelope the area around Cape Canaveral. The Cape, will be saved but surrounding communities will not. Stephanie and Amos Byers must leave their home, a place Stephanie grew up in. This story neatly showed possible issues and reactions to such an event and was quite well-written.
In "The California Queen Comes A-Calling" by Pat MacEwen, Taiesha is one of those traveling on a paddle wheel boat called the California Queen, dispensing justice on what is now the coast of California after the Second Rise. She has the unenviable position of Public Defender. When they arrive in a town that has managed to survive, they are after a child-killer. Dispensing justice is not easy in this well-written tale.
Alan Dean Foster gives us a future no one is predicting in "That Creeping Sensation". Global warming has caused a massive increase in tropical plant life making the atmosphere 40% oxygen. This caused arthropods (insects) to increase their size dramatically over the last century. Bees are six inches long. Cockroaches and scorpions are three feet long. Our heroes in this story wind up their day battling a six-foot long centipede. Foster gets big kudos for imagination on this one and for writing an exciting story.
"The Men of Summer" in the story by David Prill are a series of lovers that Marion has had in the oppressive heat. They all gather under tents and worship her until she can no longer stand it. The end of this one is no surprise, but the story was pretty bizarre.
"The Bridge" by George Guthridge is an unremittingly grim tale about a girl's abuse. It has a small tie to the theme, but not enough to justify it. If you have any sense of justice, just skip this one.
In "FarmEarth" by Paul Di Filippo, Crispian Tajuatco can't wait to become old enough to have access to FarmEarth, a virtual reality software application that allows one to actively fix the problems of an Earth some 20 years in the future. He's frustrated, when he finally turns 13, that he has to work on introductory tasks like "riding herd on a zillion hungry bacteria". He and his friends get involved with the wrong people in another imaginative story.
Chris Lawson's "Sundown" hypothesizes a future in which global warming is not a problem. That's because the sun has cooled down, significantly and overnight. Lawson write a good little piece about a few people's response to this crisis.
Ilse's grandmother has died and she want to make her "Fish Cakes" in the story by Ray Vukcevich. Tyler makes the supreme effort and leaves the virtual world of his apartment in Eugene, Oregon to visit Ilse in Phoenix, Arizona. We get an interesting look at a hotter future where the Secret Ingredient of fish cakes is not fish.
The volume ends with "True North" by M.J. Locke. It is March 2099 and billions of the world's population have died. Lewis Behrend Jessen is 67 years old and living in northern Montana. His wife died recently and he did not want to go on living but she convinced him to. He encounters a young girl named Patricia de la Montaņa Vargas, who is fleeing with a group of children to a place close to the Arctic Circle that her family had established called Hoku Pa'a in which they had stored as much of the world's knowledge as possible. She is headed there and, of course, he will help. This made for a wonderful, exciting story and a positive way to end the book.
Greenhouse, is an excellent anthology that does not become preachy or didactic. It's just got a bunch of really good stories. That's all you can ask for. Buy a copy!