Sannah and The Pilgrim, and Pia and The Skyman, by Sue Parritt

Sue Parritt’s Sannah and the Pilgrim is the first title in her climate fiction trilogy. It is gollowed by Pia and the Skyman and The Skylines Alliance.

The genre Cli-Fi (Climate fiction) is making increasing headway these days as writers look at what a future world, wrecked by climate change, might turn out like. Sue Parritt took a close look at Australasia – Australia and New Zealand. Australia, of course, has already had increasingly severe fires, floods and droughts. I found Sue Parritt’s vision to be scarily plausible as well as entertaining.

The story: Australia and Aotearoa (New Zealand) are ravaged by droughts. In Australia in particular. The coastal plains have been inundated by rising sea levels. The ‘Whites,  although impoverished by today’s standards, hang on to power through apartheid. They force the ‘Browns’, mostly refugee populations from the drowned Pacific Islands, to labour on the little arable land that remains.

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We see this future from the point of view of a resistance movement, the ‘Women’s Line’, as they endure dangers to help the serfs held in the underground prisons to escape to what we hope will be a better life for them in Aotearoa. This is an Underground Railroad of the future.

Sannah, “The Storyteller”, belongs to the Women’s Line. When a light skinned stranger calling himself Kaire arrives at her dome she must consider whether he is a spy. The twin mysteries of Kaire’s origins and Sannah’s purpose in “storytelling” drive along the narrative in the first novel. Kaire’s background when revealed gives us another viewpoint of the conditions on the planet.

As with all resistance movements, nobody quite knows who is to be fully trusted. Missions are planned, and after excruciating buildups of tension some go wrong.

We have escapes by desert and by sea, rescues, betrayals, brutalities and passions. Yet Parritt’s low key writing makes this stark way of life seem almost normalised, which makes it all the more disturbing; and the wreckage of not just the planet but of humanity springs out at us.

In Pia and the Skyman the story picks up from the bases in Aotearoa.

Parritt writes on her website –

“I want readers to grasp what is happening not only in contemporary Australia, but throughout the world with regard to refugees and the ongoing environmental degradation that poses increasing problems for humanity… By writing fiction that I believe could easily become fact, I hope to inspire more ‘ordinary’ people to take a stand and work for a more equitable and sustainable world.”

Sannah and the Pilgrim was Commended in the FAW Christina Stead Award, 2015. Pia and the Skyman was commended for the Christina Stead Fiction Award 2016 in the National Literary Awards of The Fellowship of Australian Writers. You can learn more about Sue Parritt and these books at her blog.

Where to find the trilogy: All the books are published by Odyssey Book and available through BookDepository as well as Waterstones, Indigo and Amazon. The third book, The Skylines Alliance, is also now available.

Another Cli-Fit series I loved and that you may well endure is the Chronicles of the Pale by Clare Rhoden. You can see my review here.

You are at Baffled Bear Books, the blog of Mark, guardian and blundering typist for Mawson Bear, Ponderer of Baffling Things and one of this bright world’s few published bears. Mawson is writer bear of It’s A Bright World To Feel Lost In.

Chronicles of The Pale by Clare Rhoden: A harsh post-cataclysm world

Imagine a landscape more forbidding than Central Australia, the Sahara, the Atacana desert. A landscape still shifting with the after shocks of a cataclysmic event that, 197 years before The Pale begins, destroyed most species. Clare Rhoden quickly establishes this ghastly world in our minds. At the same time she moves the narrative along with fascinating characters to care about.

‘How does anything live out there?’ Tad murmured.

Serviceman Tad patrols the Pale, the last place left that bears any resemblance to a city. Within the walls exist – you can hardly say ‘live’ – a hierarchical society of citizens who, like Tad, are partly liveware (tissue) and partly hardware. The Pale has wholly adopted technology and rationality as its survival mechanism. Subservience by the citizens to the poli-cosmos is the order of the day. (I think it no accident that the author’s use of ‘policosmos’ without a hyphen somehow gives it an overtone of ‘police state’.) Even so, there are unsettling signs in at least two Servicemen, Tad and his protégé Hector, of the Pre-catalcym human trait deemed most dangerous: empathy. The story of how this ‘weakness’ affects the Pale could have made a good novel in itself, I think, but Clare Rhoden interweaves it with so much more.


Outside the Pale, somehow life clings on. Here subsist the humans (fully liveware) of the Settlement. In their zeal to live up to Pre-cataclysmic ideals they have turned to biology. Strict breeding protocols result in a caste system. Beyond the Settlement roam Tribes. Some tribespeople have close bonds with the packs of Canini, wolf-like creatures. I defy any reader to not be fascinated by the Canini. Their codes and imperatives also serve as a contrast with the humans. All living things fear the Ferals, hybrids of biology and machine, a nightmare offspring of the former technological world. These scour the plains hunting biofuel i.e. flesh.

I particularly liked the depiction of how the mentality, society and even biology of humans could evolve to accomodate the need to survive and also to try to eliminate the weaknesses and disasters of Pre-Cataclysm humanity. In some dystopian stories all we really see, I think, is the last angry male humans mindlessly fighting each other to the last club and bullet. Here, to my relief, and I’m sure yours too, we have leaders, mostly female, relying on mutual respect, discussion, and the cross seeding of ideas between groups. This intelligent and thought provoking series looks at how the best attributes of we humans, empathy, hope, kindness, can have the power to lift us above struggle and misery.

Clare Rhoden’s website gives us more information about the Chronicles of the Pale ( The Pale, Broad Plain Darkening and The Ruined Land ) and  her other work.

Where to find The Chronicles of the Pale : From publisher Odyssey Books ,
BookDepository (free shipping worldwide): The Pale, Broad Plain Darkening and The Ruined Land.
From Amazon in Kindle and softcover. Also from
Or, ask your friendly local bookstore to order the series in for you, My tip: order them all at once because you’re going to want to keep on reading.

*The images and graphics you see here are copyright and courtesy of the publisher Odyssey Books .

Mark is guardian and blundering typist for Mawson, one of this bright world’s few published bears.