Strange to pick this up after my recent reading and find, “…as the oil began to run out, humanity was at its technological apex.” Apart from the shiny spaceships and galactic empires brigade, I can’t think of one speculative fiction writer who’s penning anything but a dystopic future, and Colin was no exception. Climate change, failure of the Gulf Stream and California walling itself off also play supporting roles to the demise of King Oil here.
This is the first book I’ve read to present the word dieback in a human context. I’m not quite sure how it’s worked into Colin’s backstory but he does mention plague-like diseases – another possibility for dystopia. My Let the Time Come turns this very idea into the only saviour for humanity. So Damage Time is rather gloomy compared with that.
This congruence of tropes gets its explanation in the acknowledgements at the end of the book. Colin cites The Long Emergency and another of James (that Christian name again!) Howard Kunstler‘s books. I wish I’d known that Colin had read these: it would have been fine to discuss them with him although what he means by “kicking against” them isn’t clear. In any case Damage Time reinforces a coherent set of parameters for our possible future and it’s vastly different to what I’d envisaged back at the start of Flight of the Ark. Yes, that’s a shiny spaceship novel.
Colin’s book is way more compelling for the ideas in it and worth a read.