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


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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