Clade

By James Bradley

Clade, a novel by James Bradley
Book details

Apocalyptic fiction has been growing in popularity for years, with most stories following some big cataclysmic event such as a zombie uprising, sweeping plague, nuclear war or the rise of artificial intelligence.

Recently though novels have started to appear that seem much closer to reality, some of them so feasible they seem less science fiction and more plausible possibility.

Clade is one such novel.

Mass animal deaths, spiraling, uncontrollable weather, and other natural disasters sound like the news articles of the week. As I write this three of the most powerful storms in history have passed through the south and mid americas, causing widespread devastation. Elsewhere in the world are stories of flooding and powerful earthquakes (8.1 followed a few days later by a 7.1 in Mexico), set against the backdrop of the US and North Korea rattling sabres with an escalating war of words. 

This description however is the backdrop to Clade which describes an increasingly crumbling society as nature fights back against all those years of human abuse. The story follows Adam Leith, his Wife Ellie and later their descendents - moving forward through the years of their lives and those around them as they struggle against the changing world, told through a series of linked narratives.

Unusually though, rather than see the effects of the changing world directly, we witness most of these issues from a distance - the Leith's clearly being affluent enough in a first world country to be less effected than others. I'm not convinced that this is the best approach and makes it all seem quite impersonal. I'm not that interested in seeing the plight of the priviledged. Having said that it does feel a bit more personable as we read about the following generations. The term Clade being a word to describe an ancestor and resulting descendants.

I liked the episodic nature of the book, each chapter moving forward in time. This provides an effective progression, describing that of a rapidly changing earth.

That's the power of this book, and it is a powerful story. Clade describes what might happen when the earth can no longer sustain us and how we might (or might not) cope with these changes. It asks these questions in a thoughtful way from a reflective distance, offering some hope that humanity might survive but that we will face a rough ride to do so. Clever and accessible fiction.

Written on 29th September 2017 by .

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