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.
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.
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