Robert Wildwood has a new novel, Generation Snow, which like his previous work, combines science fiction, radical/progressive politics, and punk/artist culture.
Duffy lives on Earth in a lush tropical region with frequent hurricanes, formerly known as Canada. A climate refugee from the south stops at Duffy’s robo cafe and Duffy is accused of harboring illegals and finds himself on the run! Wandering from town to town, Duffy keeps running into the famous two-spirit performer Starblaze Sturgeon. Turns out they both have dreams about the planet Gaeiou. They decide to travel together, picking up more dreamers as they go.
Gaeiou is populated by sentient Toads and Turtles and connected to Earth by a mysterious quantum effect. Here two school friends Toad Pagnellopy and Turtle Xippix, rally to stop the destruction of their planet by industrial practices which are causing a modern ice age. Their travels to save their world, seeking allies and evading enemies, parallels Duffy’s and Sturgeon’s quest on Earth. Until the mysterious quantum effect gradually turns out to interconnect their destinies in mysterious quantum ways …
I adapted this from Rob’s detailed synopsis on the Amazon Kindle edition page, that gives much more away.
This is fourth fiction I’ve read from Rob, and I think this is his best. Chiefly because there is a solid plot. While I hella enjoyed Rob’s earlier works, they required an openness of this reader to being in the present while I read, setting aside anticipation for the next plot twist, which I’ve come to expect in a sci-fi adventure. Whether Rob’s characters were riding the freight trains of a dystopian future, surviving in plague-depopulated Minneapolis, or doing kinky stuff on starships, they kinda seemed to hanging out like arty punks rather than chasing a goal.
Generation Snow combines the best of both approaches. The (Terrestrial) heroes are reminiscent of the people from the world that Rob and I know: those who enjoy cafés from both sides of the counter, who are afflicted with an incurable travel bug, and often find gender norms to be a quaint annoyance. And there’s also plot; the heroes of both worlds have a problem to deal with, a clear mission in life, that takes up the entire book.
One thing I’d have liked to see done differently would have been the “mysterious quantum effect.” This key story element is weakened when quantum effects are described in vague new-age interpretations of quantum physics when some real science would make a more believable story, putting the sci back in sci-fi. But vague new-age quantum-ishness is my personal peeve; with all the hype no one can see the actual mystical aspects of quantum physics. I doubt this would slow down most readers.
In his “From the Author” page, Rob writes, “I wrote Generation Snow to inspirepeople to take action and protect their environment and to see theworld with a broader view where we are not limited by nationalborders or even to the confines of the Earth.” Most of the climate change in Generation Snow is frightfully plausible, but I don’t know if an uninformed reader would realize that when so much of the novel is fanciful. Will this novel inspire someone to action? I don’t know; I’m always surprised at what finally gets people to form movements.