Australasian Journal of Ecocriticism and Cultural Ecology (AJE), Vol 3 (2013)

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The Sea and Eternal Summer: Science Fiction, Futurology and Climate Change

Andrew Milner

Abstract


This paper will be concerned to analyse what is almost certainly the earliest Australian climate change dystopia. In 1985 George Turner published a short story, The Fittest, in which he began to explore the fictional possibilities of the effects of global warming. He quickly expanded this story into a full-length novel published as The Sea and Summer in Britain and as Drowning Towers in the United States. The Sea and Summer is set mainly in Melbourne, a vividly described, particular place, terrifyingly transformed into the utterly unfamiliar. Turner’s core narrative describes a world of mass unemployment and social polarisation, in which rising sea levels have inundated the Bayside suburbs; the poor ‘Swill’ live in high-rise tower blocks, the lower floors of which are progressively submerged; the wealthier ‘Sweet’ in suburbia on higher ground. The paper will argue that Turner’s novel is long overdue a positive critical re-evaluation.

 


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