Colly Campbell – The Capricorn Sky

book coverThe Capricorn Sky

Colly Campbell (author page)

Stringybark, 2020

There’s a lot to like in The Capricorn Sky but unfortunately there’s more than a little to dislike, too. Let’s get the negatives out of the way first.

It’s Campbell’s first novel (nothing wrong with that) and it’s self-published. The book’s unpolished design (fonts, text spacing, margins, etc) sends up the first warning signals and suggests immediately that it has missed out on the benefit of experienced editorial eyes and hands. Furthermore, Campbell has chosen to write in an invented future English in which hyphenated words are replaced by camelCase, “qu” by “qw” (qwite, qwiet, etc), and there are other neologisms and re-spellings. He probably intended that it would help place the action where it’s set, at the end of this century, a tactic which can work well in the hands of an experienced writer (Burgess’s Clockwork Orange and Hoban’s Riddley Walker come to mind) but this reader, for one, found it merely distracting.

And that’s a pity, because Campbell has set a good story in a worryingly plausible future North Queensland.

In the last twenty years of this century, Northern Australia (now East and West Capricornia) has basically been ceded to the millions of climate change refugees from Indonesia and our other Northern neighbours, although it is still ruled by Australia in a power-share arrangement with the newcomers. Southern Australia has merged with New Zealand and tries to maintain stability in its former territory. The Townsville climate is ferocious (normal daytime temperatures are in the forties) and sea-level rise has turned Pallarenda into an island (no surprise) but Cape York is barely survivable in cyclone season.

In this challenging world, a talented, charming but overconfident young hacker attracts the malevolent attention of Chinese and Brazilian corporations, and is both pursued and protected by AuZgov agents. The chase takes them to an outlaw village on the Cape and to Hobart before ending where it began, in Townsville.

With attractive protagonists, plenty of action, some novel tech gadgets and a colourful (and thought-provoking) background there is, as I said, a lot to like.

The story of Plastic Free July

Plastic Free coverPlastic Free is a warmly personal narrative by the founder of Plastic Free July, a sustainability initiative which began less than ten years ago, almost by accident, in Perth.

Prince-Ruiz was working at the time as a community educator in waste management so she was well equipped to support the programme when it unexpectedly took off – and that was all it needed.

Her emphasis was always on community, on shared learning, and on doing what’s possible right now rather than aiming higher and missing the goal. It made Plastic Free July an achievable and therefore engaging challenge, which then became a gateway to engagement with other sustainability issues – avoiding other single-use products, reducing food waste, joining food co-ops, and so on.
Continue reading “The story of Plastic Free July”

A sister site for Green Path

Green Path now has a sibling, companion, doppelganger or whatever you like to call it, which is the home for my non-environmental interests – primarily books and photography, so I have called it ‘words & images’. It’s a blog very like this one and I have been setting it up during the last couple of weeks.

It already has twenty-odd posts, mostly older book reviews republished from elsewhere; the first new post on it is an introduction to Discworld for those unfortunate enough to have missed that very special fantasy series.

Normal service on Green Path can now resume.

Dirt Cheap

cover of "Dirt Cheap" by WynhausenAbout fifteen years ago I took on a reviewing role with our local newspaper. My motives were somewhat mixed, as were theirs, but there were enough benefits on both sides that the arrangement continued for five or six years. I have posted several of those reviews to Green Path under their original dates (examples here) but in this case I wanted to comment on what I wrote all those years ago.

Continue reading “Dirt Cheap”

Dyschronia

cover of Jennifer Mills novel DyschroniaI was going to add my comment on Dyschronia to the dystopian fiction reviews collected here but decided that it deserved its own space on the blog, and perhaps on our bookshelves.

It’s a Australian novel from an author new to me, Jennifer Mills. Both its setting and its mood reminded me of Randolph Stow’s Tourmaline (1963); so did the quality of the writing, which you may take as high praise since I have always liked Stow. But this is very much a novel of our own time, not the early sixties: pollution, corporate amorality and climate change are the existential threats to the fragile township and its residents.

It’s a challenging but rewarding novel and I look forward to reading more of Mills’ work. Most of the rest of what I would have said about Dyschronia has been said in this review in the SMH, so I will leave you in Gretchen Shirm’s capable hands.