lovers in a dangerous time
love in the time of global warming
Love in the Time of Global Warming, by Francesca Lia Block; Published by Square Fish; Available in Trade Paperback (2014)
At the beginning of Francesca Lia Block’s Love in the Time of Global Warming, Los Angeles has been devastated by The Shaker, an earthquake that seems to be part of a complex of environmental events that have devastated the world. But this is not a “realist” sci-fi apocalypse — something much more fundamental has changed in the world, and in narrator Penelope (or Pen) herself. Her new friend Hex’s battered copy of Homer’s Odyssey changes from being an escape into a guidebook to this changed reality.
But even before the “magic” elements begin to sneak in with the “realist”, Block establishes an ethereal, dreamlike style that contrasts intriguingly with the brutality of the world she’s created. Pen is an unlikely survivor – wracked by frequent reminiscences of the world before The Shaker, and as concerned with her budding romance with the androgynous Hex as she is with her water supply. But she is nonetheless determined and resourceful in her quest to track her missing family through the bloody, burning ruins of the world.
I think of the orderly, almost procedural, American “Urban Fantasy” genre as the distant child of the more fluid, surrealist South American “Magic Realism”. If this is so, authors like Block and John Crowley (Little, Big) must be the links between the two — even when using science fictional tropes, Block’s writing is suffused with the same kind of ethereal, androgynous, youthful dreaminess as her cultish Dangerous Angels/Weetzie Bat series. Throughout, she maintains a kind of dream logic that may be short on plot but is long on seductive atmosphere and aesthetics.
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