Wednesday, December 23, 2015

An Interview with Australia's Ian Irvine with his ''cli-fi'' trilogy HUMAN RITES (2015 editions)

Meet the author: Ian Irvine

Ian tells this blog: "I've  written 31 novels. I’m mainly known for my Three Worlds series of epic fantasy novels, which has sold very well over a long time, though I’ve also written the eco-thrillers and a lot of kids’ books.

''I’m a marine scientist and an expert on contaminated sediments, and I’ve worked in this field for more than 30 years. Long ago I did some research on climate change using deep sea sediment cores from the bottom of the Tasman Sea. I’ve had a lifelong interest in environmental issues.

''If there’s anything else you’d like to know, just ask. There’s also a lot of info about me, my books and my work on my website, ''


DAN BLOOM ASKS: Ian, your trilogy of cli-fi novels … did they get much positive acclaim from Australian book reviewers and media in general? TV and radio.? Newspapers?

IAN IRVINE REPLIES: Yes, they did. My Human Rites trilogy (The Last Albatross, Terminator Gene and The Life Lottery), is set a little way in the future. Global warming and melting ice sheets have raised sea level by more than six metres, flooded thousands of cities and wrecked the global economy. Now half a billion climate refugees are flooding into the West. Unemployment is higher than the Great Depression and people can’t take it any longer. Fascism is rising again and the armies of great nations prepare for a war that would destroy the Earth. Into this ruined world stalks a fanatical eco-terrorist who believes that the only way to save the planet is to erase humanity from it – and he plans to do just that. 
The trilogy was first published by Simon and Schuster Australia between 2000 and 2004. Most of the reviews were positive and the books had good media coverage including a full-page feature article in the book section of the Sydney Morning Herald (Australia’s biggest selling quality newspaper). I also did about 40 interviews for the last book, The Life Lottery, in 2004, including Sky TV and half a dozen national radio programs. This was far more coverage than I’ve had for any of my other novels (even though I’m mainly known for my Three Worlds series of epic fantasy books), and the interviews were overwhelmingly positive.
The Last Albatross was also distributed by Simon and Schuster in the US and UK in 2001 and had good reviews in both countries, including my only ever review in The Times.
The trilogy was republished by Simon and Australia in a nice trade paperback second edition between 2008 – 2010 (revised and updated).  I did a third edition in 2015 (again revised and updated) and it’s now available as an ebook, and soon as Print-on-Demand.
QUESTION:  How has your kids' book The Last Christmas been received in Australia media? Pro and con.  Some mock the book.  Why do you think rightwing deniers are afraid of a kids' book?
IAN IRVINE: It’s been received well, considering that it’s an ebook and ebooks hardly ever get reviews or media coverage. I’ve done a bunch of interviews, all friendly, and it’s had  good coverage in the mainstream media, for instance:] (both the Sydney Morning Herald and The Age, Melbourne).
I understand that The Last Christmas featured on a rightwing climate denialist site recently, and I had some emails from members, but I don’t think that means much.
QUESTION: Some say in the distant future  --James Lovelock said it, too, at age 96 now!-- Australia will become “Lifeboat Australia" with millions of climate refugees from Asia and USA Canada trying to get there by boat or plane if fuel available in 200 years.  Possible scenario? Will the govt and military accept them or throw them off island?
IAN IRVINE:  Sea level rise creating hundreds of millions of climate refugees is one of the key issues in the Human Rites trilogy. The idea was sparked by an Australian politician of the late 1990s, Pauline Hanson, whose One Nation campaign sparked a backlash against ‘boat people’ – refugees coming to Australia by boat from Asia – even though there were only a few thousand of them a year. I thought, if such a small number of refugees can cause such a political upheaval, imagine what it would be like if sea level rise displaced millions, or tens or even hundreds of millions, of refugees, and they all came flooding into the west.
I did some research in 1999 and discovered that a few metres of sea level rise could displace up to half a billion people. My own background is in marine science (I gained my Ph. D. in 1981) and I’ve been working on marine pollution issues for more than 30 years, so this was something I felt well qualified to do. And that was the genesis of the stories.
If it happens, it’ll be a global problem that’s massively worse than the current refugee crisis in Europe, and it will require a global solution. I can’t speculate what would happen. Maybe I should write another novel about it.

QUESTION: Some 72 percent of Australians accept that more needs to be done to combat climate change.  So why is the right wing attacking your cli-fi trilogy and kids' book?
IAN IRVINE:  At a guess, because climate deniers have taken some major hits recently and the tide is rapidly turning against them:
  • Two of the most powerful politicians against acting on climate change (PM Tony Abbott in Australia and PM Stephen Harper in Canada) have recently been replaced by PMs who accept that it’s a real and urgent issue.
  • The Republicans in the US are in disarray because of the popularity of Donald Trump, who seems, to the wider community, unelectable.
  • The Paris Climate Conference recently received solid agreement.
  • Most big business now agrees that something has to be done quickly to limit global warming, and fossil fuel companies have lost massive value recently and will find it much harder to get funding in future.
I suppose the deniers feel that they’re losing the war and they’re flailing around, hitting whatever targets they can.
QUESTION: When do you think full climapocalypse will hit Australia? 100 or 200 yrs in future or sooner? Will Australians be prepared for it mentally, psychologically, spiritually?
IAN IRVINE:  I don’t know but if I had to guess I’d say it would be sooner rather than later. I think Australians are well educated about the issues – they’ve been in the media constantly in the past decade, and especially in the last few years, which have been very hot, with disastrous floods and bushfires, and tropical cyclones. And with the current year being a major El Nino year, this summer could be bad.
Scientists are now predicting that El Nino could cause a major die-off of the Great Barrier Reef this summer and autumn, and given that the GBR is such a national treasure this would have a big impact on public consciousness. Last year I was a member of a panel of scientific experts reviewing the health of the reef, so I understand the problem.


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