A story of survival and coming together in the face of catastrophic environmental change
Taraxippus is coming: a black hole one tenth the mass of the sun is about to enter the solar system.
Matt and his friends are taking no chances. They board a mobile aquaculture rig, the Mandjet, self-sustaining in food, power and fresh water, and decide to sit out the encounter off-shore. As Taraxippus draws nearer, new observations throw the original predictions for its trajectory into doubt, and by the time it leaves the solar system, the conditions of life across the globe will be changed forever.
I’ve been looking forward to reading this novella ever since I saw that stunning cover. I know, I know: don’t judge a book by its cover. But, damn, that’s a gorgeous image. Devastating, too: a world both on fire and experiencing deep freeze at opposing poles. Egan’s novella is a well-written, unsettling story of how fragile the world is, but also how humanity can pull together to help one another in the face of incredible hardship.
The cover offers a pretty good reflection of what happens to the world after the arrival of Taraxippus: the global climate is thrown out to the extremes. Temperatures soar and plummet, depending on the season. Regions become inhospitable to human life. Populations are displaced. Food production is devastated. As Matt and Co. navigate this new world, we learn of how the climate changes have affected different cultures, nations and individuals.
Greg Egan’s Perihelion Summer is a story of people struggling to adapt to a suddenly alien environment. It is the story of the friendships and alliances forged by Matt, his companions and those they meet along their journey to find a place for themselves. While devastating, the story was not as grim as it could have been. The world doesn’t go full Mad Max, for example. Yes, everyone is tense and expects the worst, but there are a couple of instances when things could have gone so very much worse than it did, as the crew of the Mandjet encounter other desperate survivors.
A look at climate change from a different perspective; one that hyper-accelerates the changes we are experiencing already. An interesting story, populated by interesting characters. The pacing is good throughout, with only a couple of dips, as Matt and his companions try to make this inhospitable world a bit more livable for themselves, their families, and others.