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Friday, May 18, 2012

Searching For A Solution To Devestation

Although I have an interest in science fiction novels that deal with environmental themes, I was not so enthusiastic about my latest choice for review from The Bookplex.  I have posted my review below.



This science fiction novel takes place in the not so distant future when over-population, climate change and environmental degradation have had their long predicted devastating impact.  Two scientists are portrayed as working on solutions to these problems.  My feeling is that the ecological damage is even now too massive for one of these solutions to be considered a realistic one.  The Next: An Omen shows some difficulties with that approach, but I think that the author may be overly optimistic to imagine that it would work at all—except on an extremely limited basis.  The other very risky attempt at a solution is the subject of a suspenseful subplot.

 I appreciated the fact that neither of the scientists is demonized.  They are both well-intentioned men who are trying to save the world under very adverse circumstances.  Other characters involved in the implementation of these scientists’ plans exhibit both the strengths and flaws of humanity.  There are characters that show tremendous adaptability and heroism.  Others are remarkably shortsighted, and display the terrible tendency to scapegoat that has brought about many of the worst tragedies in human history. 

Kelly Madison, a paranormally talented teen who plays a central role in the opening of the novel, becomes much less pivotal later in the narrative.  The author  seems to imply that she’s very important to humanity’s future.  Her gift is rather wonderful, but the book never clarifies how Kelly can develop into a key factor in averting the global catastrophe. I expect that there must be a sequel in the works which will include another rather mysterious character whose part in events is unexplained. 

This means that The Next: An Omen really doesn’t stand on its own.  The story is unfinished.  I would have preferred more of a resolution.  I admit to having less tolerance for cliffhangers in this case than I normally do.  You see, the reader of this book is being left dangling when the fate of the entire human race is in the balance.  Don’t do this to us, Mr. Douse.  


The book Our Vanishing Wilderness is mentioned in The Next: An Omen as being read by one of the characters.  I had not read this environmental classic which was first published in 1969. I was interested in finding out more.  Strangely enough, I couldn't locate any reviews, but there were a couple of items of interest.

The authors of Our Vanishing Wilderness Mary Louise Grossman and Shelly Grossman also wrote a TV series of the same title that aired on PBS.  The New York PBS station has made it available for viewing on their website at  Our Vanishing Wilderness: The TV Series

I also discovered that Mary Louise Grossman later wrote as Mary Louise King.  There is an illuminating essay by her dealing with the writing and publication of Our Vanishing Wilderness which can be found at
Breaking The Glass Ceiling

Although it is not the first book dealing with environmental matters, it was a significant one.  Another classic in this field that appeared in the sixties is Rachel Carson's highly influential  Silent Spring   


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