by James Murray-White
is a collection of very worthy short stories. It is immediately clear
that Dauncey is not writing from a literary and imaginative viewpoint:
he is really telling us stories about how the world could be, using
some real social tools and shifts, and in one or two stories, how bad
the world (meaning both the natural world and the cohesion of the human
community) currently is and will continue to become if we don’t act
upon the pollution, greed, and other corrupting factors now.
is talented at conveying the themes, actions and indeed foibles of the
human spirit. To a lesser extent he has an ability to describe human
relations through the tensions, actions and situations that we find
ourselves in – for example, a father and son who find themselves at
opposite ends of a protest against a tidal wave energy plant is well
described in Tides
of Bold Bluff.
does start to grate however is how each of the 18 stories has a
specific environmental theme, which the author then ties in to a human
trait, or issue. 18 stories: 18 themes, with a bit of padding thrown in
for good measure (including a poem, a soliloquy, and a pledge, no
less). Those of us involved in environmental activism and protection
know that initially issues appear black and white, yet often have
myriads of layers and inter-connectivity underneath the
surface. In the story Dreaming of a Green Christmas,
Dauncey explores anti-materialism; in Cobble Hills, he
examines eco-villages and co-operation. In Future in the Forests
he weaves his words around sustainable forests, and so on.
stories in the centre of the book are marked with black borders. This
seems to imply that these are the bleakest, and they are the sparks of
despair that could really bring change in the world. They deal with a
bacteria outbreak in the UK (that kills 4,500 people), the DNA in both
humans and monkeys being altered by pollutants (with the resulting
outbreak of deformed children and baby monkeys), and it should be
pretty clear from the title what Antarctica’s Farewell
focuses upon. These three grim stories serve to focus the reader upon
the potential of the optimistic and sustainable outcomes that Dauncey
provides in the stories that sandwich these three. He uses these
scenarios like sledgehammers upon our heads, but in this he is
faultless: humanity is indeed acting upon the earth like a bull in a
china shop, and we know the consequences.
cumulative effect of this collection is worthiness with a slightly dull
edge. A different review might examine how much of the stories
predictions for the future (it was published 19 years ago) have come
true, or not, but that’s for others to write.
I’m minded of the quote: “There are ways of telling, and then there are
ways of telling”.
As the author’s blurb on the cover tells us, Dauncey is a futurist, not
necessarily a teller of tales. He has yet to perfect this art, or
artfully combine the two.
Intrigued? Read some of
stories from this collection on EarthFuture.com.
Murray-White is a
Jerusalem-based writer & documentary filmmaker. Amongst his
many projects, he is a contributing editor to www.greenprophet.com, an
Israel-based, environment-focussed cutting edge green website.
Publisher: New Society Publishers
is a speaker, author, and organizer who works to develop a positive
vision of a sustainable future, and to translate that vision into
He is author of the award-winning book Stormy Weather: 101 Solutions to Global Climate Change; Cancer: 101 Solutions to a Preventable Epidemic,
and 9 other titles.
He is President of the BC Sustainable Energy Association; Executive
Director of The Solutions Project; board member of Prevent Cancer Now
and Publisher of EcoNews, a monthly newsletter that promotes the vision
of a sustainable Vancouver Island.
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