carbon black coverIn a new political cli-fi thriller titled [easyazon-link asin=”1909477362″ locale=”us”]Carbon Black[/easyazon-link] lawyer and novelist Declan Milling wades into the debates over reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degrading (REDD) and weaves a powerful yarn.

It’s mostly about how the international response to climate change has defaulted to a fragmented carbon market resulting in a heated battleground between militant anti-capitalist activists and private industry leaders. The story is based on things Milling, an Australian now living in London, has seen in his work as a globe-trotting lawyer. But does the story he tells hold water?

”The scenario I posited as the background for my novel is, probably, one of a number of possible outcomes that could actually transpire, given the way the international negotiations have developed over the last 20 years,” Milling told Teleread via email. “Even the outcome from the recent UN climate meeting in Lima could be interpreted as either a positive step forward, or just more of the ‘same old same old’, depending on whether you’re a glass half empty or glass half full person.”

“The recent US/China developments that preceded it, and the greater urgency in U.N. climate messages — these could point towards positives and things happening; whereas the same old north/south negotiating positions, arguments over historical responsibility and funding, the continuing spoiler tactics of some states – these point to the negative outcome,” he added.

“The future scenario I posited is plausible, when set against this background; but importantly, it is one that facilitates the plot and themes I wanted the book at to touch upon, even if it doesn’t explore them in detail (at least they might touch a nerve with readers),” he said.

In the novel, Milling’s first, a German national named Emil Pfeffer, a director in the new UN body tasked with regulating the market, believes he is making a difference, but in reality, he’s barely ventured outside his cocooned bureaucrat’s existence.

“Emil is a fictional character,” he said. “He’s not based on anyone in particular, although he might have appropriated characteristics from a whole number of people along the way (perhaps even including myself). The same goes for the other characters in the book — they’re all fictional, but like any author, things I’ve observed along the way might have been ‘purloined’, in some small way, to help their development.”

During the main character’s official address at an important global carbon market conference, an audience member resurrects a suspicious incident that Emil thought long since buried — the arrest of one of Emil’s colleagues Davies while on assignment in Papau New Guinea (PNG).

Asked he had had ever worked in PNG, Milling said he had, explaining: “I lived and worked in PNG at one stage of my career. At that time, as is the case now, there was corruption in government. A germane example where corruption occurs in PNG is logging: this has been the case for many years and there’s a thinly-veiled reference to this in the book.”

The debut novel, published with little fanfare but with an important tweet by New York Times science blogger Andrew C. Revkin and a host of reviews at small online sites, has so far had little marketing boosts and distribution (and readership) has so far been one step at a time.

The novel is the first part of a projected trilogy, Milling said. When asked if his novel into the cli-fi genre, Milling said he was not sure.

”’Carbon Black’ is more of a political thriller, than ‘cli-fi’, if by ‘cli-fi’ you are specifically referring to the genre of ‘climate disaster’ type novels,” he said, “However, there’s no doubt it’s a political thriller set against the backdrop of the long-term disaster of climate change and all the political, economic, social, financial, legal and other issues associated with it: but does that make it ‘cli-fi’?”

I told the author that given the theme of his novel, I’d call it a cli-fi political thriller, but that readers and reviewers can label the book any way they want. The main thing is “story” and Milling has done his homework.


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