Some Features of Living Matter in the Neighborhood of the Sun
Weeks before Poppy is set to migrate to the human colony on Mars, their mother, Arthemise, takes them for one last voyage to visit the floating homestead on the Henderson Swamp where they were raised. On an Earth where to survive in Louisiana in the summer, one must wear a Dune-like body cooling suit, a much-needed family getaway that couldn't possibly last long enough soon becomes an eternity they can't escape when a geomagnetic solar storm powerful enough to produce widespread voltage collapse happens to coincide with a precipitous tropical system of the sort increasingly common not only along the marshy coasts of North America but uniformly and sporadically across the globe.
From the book:
"Sometimes we set our hearts so unflinchingly on something, like Arthemise and Poppy had on this much-needed vacation, parent and sprog traveling alone together for the first time in six years. We want it so badly we don't pay as close attention as we otherwise would, and, to our demise, we will not stop to consider our endeavor until we have been left dripping in our own latent daydreams like Icarus liquid feathers and raining skin."
Review by Rick Harsch
SOME FEATURES OF LIVING MATTER IN THE NEIGHBORHOOD OF THE SUN arrives the size of a genuine pocket book, not too thick to fit in a shirt pocket, and with a beautiful cover--no goddamn barcode front or back and lots of felines. The inside is flawless as well, from the swamp deep and beautiful epigraph from Kate Chopin's AWAKENING to the narration of a generational nostalgia trip in a Lousiana swamp some time in the future that strikes me as the first of its kind in the present; that is, science fiction launched from 2022, bringing to date the characters that may be living in the future herein described if any indeed do so. (It strikes me that the form novella is the easiest to spoil in a review, so I will leave that as vague as it is.)
The story itself rests on the spurious notion that climate change is real and even generated by humans--sorry, no, the story rests on the gently definitive and all too believable effects of a changed climate (in the short space of 90 pocket book pages, the author presents both a horrific climatic effect and a durable human response), and also on the truly more dubious notion of effectual space colonization. A more magnificent event occurs that is generated by natural causes, but even that piled onto the troubles already inflicted on Louisianans fails to disturb a story that manages to flow from the events imposed from without and yet remain a recognizable human dance of intellect and circumstance. Kate Chopin might have written it had science fiction writers managed to light a fire under scientific asses a while back.