Sunday, December 16, 2007

Birmingham, 35 Miles-James Braziel

Birmingham, 35 Miles
James Braziel
Bantam, Mar 2008, $12.00
ISBN 9780553385021

In 2044, life is a short hard death as the hole in the ozone layer coupled with other human indignities ignored by those who scoffed at the climate crisis. They know Bush pseudoscience has practically destroyed the planet. Anyone born after it was too late only knows of endless heat and incredibly vast dust storms in the southeast dust bowl.

In this world of an arid inferno Mathew Harrison earns a meager living as a migrant worker in and around Fatama, Alabama. He dreams of finding a better life thirty five miles to the north in Birmingham, but that is outlawed for people like him. Instead he and his father toil in government clay mines that the younger Harrison believes is fake but dangerous work that the Feds have come up with to shut up the outsiders; those not residing in the exclusive Saved World where the affluent live. In spite of the hardship conditions, Mat loves his wife Jennifer and feels they have a future because they have received the golden visas allowing them to obtain menial work in the Saved World.

BIRMINGHAM, 35 MILES is an intelligently designed grim futuristic thriller that extrapolates much of the current debate on immigration, wealth distribution and climate especially rising temperatures and droughts into a strong parable of An Inconvenient Truth. The story line is vividly dark painting an ominous future for a much divided United States as dust bowls take over the southeast yet enclosed enclaves for the wealthy and their working class spring up in magnet cities like Birmingham. Readers will appreciate James Braziel’s look at a portentous ill America that demands action now or condemn our descendents to hell on earth.

Harriet Klausner

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