Excellent Pre-Apocalyptic Novel: A Being Darkly Wise

Climate Progress book reviewer John Atcheson has his own book out available in paperback and Kindle from Amazon, A Being Darkly Wise: A Novel Of Survival.

I don’t get much time to read fiction these days, but I do follow post-apocalyptic novels, like The Hunger Games and, the ebook sensation, Wool. Atcheson’s book, while every bit as compelling a page turner as those, is a somewhat different category, which might be called pre-apocalyptic fiction.

Here’s one of the many 5-star reviews on Amazon:

Ingredients: one part diary of a Washington insider, one part introductory science textbook, one part love story, one part wilderness guide, and one part scary-as-hell thriller. Mix well, serve on ice. Enjoy.

I have to admit, I was initially skeptical of this book; climate change, while terrifying, doesn’t readily lend itself to the adventure/thriller genre. However, Atcheson is so deft at weaving together the various threads of his story that I was almost halfway through the book before coming up for air. Even now, after a re-reading, I’m simply amazed at the range of emotional levers that Atcheson is able to pull: righteous anger at the do-nothing Washington establishment, sadness over love lost, excitement over new romantic interests, an intense desire to go fly-fishing, and plain-old fear.

Simply put, this is a must-read not only for those interested in climate change. This is a book for anyone who likes a nail-biting, keep-you-up-all-night, hold-your-breath-until-you-turn-blue type of thriller. Count me among those eagerly anticipating the sequel.

I have known Atcheson for 20 years now, since my first weeks at the US Department of Energy in mid-1993. I actually read one of the early drafts of this book back then and was very much impressed at how improved this book is now that he is edited out the uber-wonky parts and streamlined the action. Yes, the author has been working on this book for two decades!


I must say that as much as I enjoyed the post-apocalyptic novels, The Hunger Games and Wool, the former seems to think its young audience simply won’t be interested in more than a brief paragraph on how we got in this mess (and Wool seems to rather pointedly rule out global warming as the cause of the ruination).

Atcheson’s pre-apocalyptic novel does a very good job of smoothly integrating in the climate science with the page-turning narrative in a non-preachy fashion. In a decade or two at the most — and then perhaps for centuries to come — climate change will be a major element in fiction just as it will become a dominant force in all of our lives. Reading A Being Darkly Wise will put you at the bleeding edge — literally — of this emerging trend.