What would it be like to talk to the person reading your book right now? What about the reader who is about to pick up your book? ''Dear Reader, Love, Author'' gives authors a chance to talk to their readers. What would you like to tell them? It can be anything from why you wrote your book for them, the research, the publication, anything!
EDWARD RUBIN, author of THE HEATSTROKE LINE, writes:
''The Heatstroke Line'' is intended as a warning to us all, but it’s also intended to be an entertaining read from a writer who is a life-long fan of science fiction.
The warning is about climate change. This is already happening, and virtually every reputable climate scientist predicts that it’s going to get a lot worse. Now we’ve added a President who denies this reality to a Congress that has been denying it all along. I don’t think that they truly believe that all the scientists are lying. What they really think is that distant tropical countries will suffer, but not the United States. My book is designed to tell you how wrong they are. The physical impact of climate change on our country is well documented in non-fiction books, but The Heatstroke Line envisions the political and psychological changes that may result. It depicts a time in the not-so-distant future when the U.S. has broken up into a group of smaller nations that are dominated by Canada (the real beneficiary of climate change). Like many other nations that have suffered such declines, its people are gripped by an obsessive and forlorn sense of nostalgic patriotism that only serves to prevent them from developing realistic solutions to the ongoing catastrophe. This may not happen, of course, but the point of fiction is to envision the possibility so that we can prevent it.
This book belongs to a genre known as post-apocalyptic science fiction. It includes a number of sci-fi classics such as Earth Abides, A Canticle for Leibowitz, The Day of the Triffids, and The Road, and some recent best-sellers like Oryx and Crake, The Wind-Up Girl, and Station Eleven. None of these books, however, not even the recent ones, portray the disaster they envision as resulting from the real danger that we face, which is simply the increasingly temperatures. More significantly still, these works tend to use the disaster to clear away the technological and bureaucratic features of the modern world and tell an adventure story of one sort or another. In The Heatstroke Line, the result of the oncoming disaster isn’t a primitive world filled with long journeys on foot and hand-to-hand combat. There are still governments, still cars and factories, and still all the mundane details of modern existence. It’s simply that life has become much worse for nearly all Americans. In other words, this is a realistic picture of what life might look like in our country if we allow global warming to continue unabated.
But The Heatstroke Line is an adventure story of its own. Fiction can teach us many things, but it won’t work unless it has an engaging plot and convincing characters. In my novel, the main character is an entomologist at one of the few universities left in the former United States. He is sent to the south (below “the heatstroke line”) to investigate an outbreak of biter bugs -- vicious, flesh-eating insects that have developed as a result of the increased heat. Once there, he is taken captive, for reasons that are a mystery to him, by the frenetic, disaffected and sometimes vicious people who have clung on in this nearly uninhabitable region. The action in the book involves his efforts to survive, his plans to escape, and the mysterious young woman who he meets there. She has written a post-apocalyptic novel of her own (part of which appears in the book), filled with standard science fiction tropes. The contrast between her teenage fantasies and the “real world” that the main character encounters reveals the mystery of his capture to him and motivates the action that brings the novel to its close.
I hope you enjoy this book as much as I enjoyed writing it, and I also hope that at the end of it, you feel as concerned as I do about the future of our nation and our planet.