The Winter World by A.G. Riddle

Winter World (The Long Winter #1)

Having read and thoroughly enjoyed A.G. Riddle’s Pandemic series, I couldn’t wait to read his latest, Winter World. Not  only do I love the visceral thrill of eschatological narratives and their exploration of geo-political machinations as well as emotional and psychological trauma and challenges of facing the end of the world as we know it and how people react, but the notion of the earth becoming a winter wasteland (and the reasons behind this) were fascinating to me – very Day After Tomorrow-esque.

This tale of the earth’s rapid change from varied climate and where power is concentrated in familiar regions to one where mass immigration from First World centres to formerly third world countries is told from two points of view. The first is that of an astronaut/scientist and commander, Emma, and a brilliant doctor and roboticist (among other things) James, who commences the book in a federal prison. The way Riddle tells the story of earth’s epic struggle to survive an attack that will destroy all life is at once personalized through these two characters and the relationships they form with their families, colleagues and each other, but also far-reaching. He cleverly keeps the pace moving by leaping the story forward and avoiding what some sci-fi narratives do (albeit some do it very well), bogging the reader down in extraneous scientific detail that show the author’s grasp of technical complexities as opposed to serving the story. We are given some of the science and for this Luddite, it appears to work. But it is the story that captures you – as well as demands you suspend your disbelief – as James and Emma and the brilliant people they work with fight to battle an alien enemy no-one predicted and who is ruthless in the extreme. 

My only mild reservations are that James and Emma are so damn courageous and amazing. James is like the nerd’s James Bond personified but with the ability to grow and change – for the better (even when he’s practically perfect in every way). Emma, through great tragedy and personal hardship is also a geek Mary Poppins – intelligent, focused, self-sacrificing and lovely. I just wish there were more people Iike Emma and James in real life. As it is, I’ll have to wait for the sequel to find out where their battle and the dangerous adventures that ensue lead. Looking forward to it!

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