Socialist Worker

Blackfish City is a gripping climate cliffhanger

by Dave Sewell
Issue No. 2600

This dystopian fable has been warmly received by science fiction and fantasy writers, and could be of interest to many socialists too. Blackfish City is Miller’s contribution to the growing subgenre of “cli-fi”—stories that explore a future shaped by climate change.

It’s a hugely important topic, but a difficult one.

The causes of climate change are so distant from the consequences, the culprits from their victims, that it’s hard to tie them together in one coherent story.

Miller’s solution is a future where everyone is a refugee. His robot-ruled floating city of Qaanaaq feels like Bladerunner in the Calais jungle.

Everyone in Qaanaaq still bears the scars of their displacement—and the potential to create something better together.

But this means overcoming the sinister forces that turn them against each other to preserve the rule of the city’s landlords and shareholders.

Miller lays this message on with a trowel. The story is fast paced and packed with cliffhangers.

The fantasy elements—from a woman who rides a killer whale to a telepathic STD—are imaginative and well-realised.

Indeed, they’re often more convincing than the characters. But despite some shortcomings, Blackfish City is a gripping and exciting read.

Blackfish City by Sam J Miller, Orbit Books £8.99

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