I don’t know if it’s just me but whenever someone recommends a book that is for charity or even a song that is ‘worthy’ – alarm bells go off. Alarms that tell me to stay away and to avoid contact at all costs. ‘If they want money, then just ask and don’t put us through the hassle to reading drivel written by virtuous people or music designed for hippies with only the strongest stamina’ I reason. As such, you can imagine my delight when I did actually read a book of climate-inspired short stories which is not only giving all the royalties to the ‘Stop Climate Chaos Coalition’ but is also genuinely worth recommending. This can’t happen often – or I hope not, as I might be missing out on some great stuff.
There are 21 stories in ‘Beacons – Stories For Our Not So Distant Future’, one of which is a graphic short story, with contributions from the UK’s greatest short story writers. There’s a story with a time machine, one with a Scottish Chief, a story about a vanilla sundae with hot chocolate sauce, one about suicide-inducing TV presenters, Marco Polo, about children, death, unfulfilled love and loads more about people navigating a quickly shifting landscape where the norm is no more.
Here’s what you need to know (in a format inspired by the short stories):
1. You need to read more stuff by Adam Marek, David Constantine, Liz Jenson and A.L.Kennedy. Holly Howitt and Jem Poster were pretty good too. They all have great stories in the collection, but that’s obvious isn’t it.
2. There are only two, maybe 3, stories which are duds which isn’t bad considering there are 21 stories in the collection.
3. The editor has done a great job. It also seems that all the writers all have taken the theme seriously and thought hard about the issue of climate change before putting pen to paper/hand to keyboard(?).
4. I have been informed by a reliable friend that my criticism that most of the authors mention the weather is unfair as this collection is about climate change.
5. I love short stories and also happen to know the editor Gregory Norminton so I might be a tad biased. But only a tad.
6. Helen Simpson, who has written a great short story collection on climate change titled ‘In Flight Entertainment’, is missing from the collection. Maybe she was all out of climate stories. Who knows.
7. All the stories are new commissions. No reprints, no nothing – all in all, you get your money’s worth.
8. The editor decided to put together the book to support the Stop Climate Chaos Coalition back in 2007. The collection has been a long time coming but I think the final product was worth the wait.
9. It’s only £8.99/ $14.99 and you can buy Beacons – Stories For Our Not So Distant Future here.
10. If want to read another great collection of environmentally inspired stories after you’ve read this collection, you could do worse than to read Verso’s ‘I’m With The Bears’ which was reviewed here.
Title: Beacons – Stories for our not so distant future
Editor: Gregory Norminton
Publication Date: 07/03/2013