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BURNING SKY by John Darnton


by John Darnton

Pub Date: May 14th, 2024
ISBN: 9781648210242
Publisher: Arcade

A speculative thriller about the effects of global warming.

Terrestrial temperatures will soon reach the point of no return, and authorities come up with a cockamamie scheme: Populate the stratosphere with sulfur particles to filter out much of the sunlight and cool things off. It’s called the Cocoon and covers the Northern Hemisphere, which is all the powers that be care about. The result is an utter societal and ecological disaster beginning with the Great Cull in 2039, with rising oceans and the deaths of millions of people and countless trees and animals. Social media collapses. No one can see the sun, the moon and stars, or the sky. And if that isn’t crazy enough, authorities ban the color blue so people will forget what they’re missing. A Color Guard tries to kill all birds with blue feathers and universally prohibits the display of Color X, as the 470-nanometer wavelength is officially called. Even the American flag is forbidden. The leader of this police state is a man named Messian, an obvious hint at "messianic." Meanwhile, a young man named Yon travels to South America and learns, among other things, that shadows exist. The story spans decades as people try to figure out how to deal with the hot mess they’ve made of the world, and then they make it worse. The Cocoon “was supposed to save everything,” but clearly it’s one big screw-up. Now people wonder, “What was it like before they stole the sky?” Some plot elements seem straight out of a thriller writer’s handbook: a scientist’s suspicious death down an icy moulin, requisite bad guys, a Resistance with an unexpected connection to the Power. It’s a justifiably bleak novel and a rather preachy one: Stop polluting now, folks, or this is what you could be in for. And there’s an attempted execution by hanging that—gotta say it—is quite a stretch. The ideas of launching sulfur-laden rockets to Save Us All and of banning blue seem implausible, but they are entertaining. Meanwhile, the question remains: What will we do when Earth heats beyond its tipping point?

An enjoyable novel that should spark important discussion.