Sea Change by Nancy Kress
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Sea Change is a fast, exciting read that highlights climate change instead of pandemic as its apocalypse generator. In 2022, GMOs were banned. A biopharmaceutical caused the Catastrophe: worldwide economic and agricultural collapse, and personal tragedy for lawyer Caroline Denton and her son. Ten years later, reinvented as Renata Black, she is living in Seattle and a member of the Org, an underground group of scientists hunted by the feds. But the Org’s illegal food-research might just hold the key to rebuilding the world’s food supply.
This is another original take in the genre of apocalypse, with the focus on banning a particular type of science. There’s so much material out there floating in cyberspace conspiracy theory that has not been used yet in traditional fiction publishing, and this book is a good example of how one fiction can inform another. With its near-future setting and secret science labs, I was reminded of the spy shows of the 1960s (in a fun way). The book’s main theme, of course, is that science isn’t bad; it’s the way science is used that can be problematic. In other words, “science doesn’t kill people...”.
In the end, though, what makes this such a good novel isn’t plot, but character. Renata has always been an activist, but she’s not in the Org because of food science, but because of another project, connected to her son. Through Renata/Caroline’s story we discover no matter how much we wish the world were run by reason (particularly our own reasons and rationales)—our living into the future is propelled by our responses to our loves and losses. This may be both humanity’s greatest strength and weakness; if we could harness the power of the human heart—or set it free—that would be the greatest breakthrough of all time. This is a near-future thriller worth reading.
Recommended. (Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for the e-galley for review.)
View all my reviews