In Carbon Run: Tales From a Warming Planet, J.G. Follansbee speculates about an apocalyptic climate-change event forty year into the future. In response, the government passes the Carbon Acts to protect the planet and its species by outlawing the use of carbon fuels. These laws are enforced by the “Bessies” of the Bureau of Environmental Security, and one can almost imagine jack-booted thugs kicking down doors in their search for illegal fuel.
When single-dad William Penn accidentally burns down his cabin and starts a forest fire, one that wipes out a species of bird, he is forced to flee and abandon his young-adult daughter, Anne. As Penn struggles to find refuge, futuristic communications hardware such as mind’s eyes, c-tribes, and security robots propel the reader into a well-researched future. It’s not a world that tolerates law-breakers however, and technology makes escape even more formidable.
Follansbee’s prose really shines when Penn returns to his seafaring ways and takes a job on a modern sailing ship, one that is propelled by environmentally friendly wind-power, a design in vogue after carbon fuels are outlawed. Terms like bow thruster, athwartships, yardarms, and ratlines flow easily from the author’s in-depth of knowledge of historical sailing craft.
Carbon Run doesn’t preach about climate change. Instead, it prefers to paint a speculative future, one the reader must evaluate and interpret. It’s a dark world, where well-meaning bureaucrats zealously protect the planet. But will corruption and organized crime prevent humanity from solving these global problems? Will a loss of personal identity and privacy create a life no one desires?
Follansbee has us explore these issues through a well-told story of international intrigue and fast-paced action, set in a world full of pirates and ruthless police. As Penn crisscrosses the ocean in search of the truth, and a reunion with Anne, we find that human weaknesses, forty years into the future, haven’t changed much.
We’re left to hope that mercy and human compassion will rise above the challenges our future will present. Carbon Run is a thoughtful and enjoyable read from start to finish.
Carbon Run can be found on Amazon here.