Monday, August 14, 2006


Father popped over to Blighty a short while ago for little Serafina's christening. While he was here, he gave me a copy of a book called Extinction, by Ray Hammond.

He thought I'd be interested in it because of two brief passages, in which the hero, lawyer Michael Fairfax, returns to America from abroad.

"Mr Michael Benjamin Fairfax?"

The lawyer turned from his place in the shuffling queue to see a pale, bespectacled young man in a creased brown suit, besides whom stood an airport cop with his thumbs hooked in his gun belt.


The young man flashed a badge. "U.S. Immigration. Would you please follow me, sir?"

"My bags," protested Michael, pointing towards the distant bank of carousels. People in the line were now staring at him as if he were an illegal immigrant - or a terrorist.

"We'll have them collected for you, sir," said the immigration officer. "This shouldn't take long."

There follows a long interrogation scene, regarding details of a court case Micheal is preparing, which the U.S. Authorities have a vested interest in. It continues:

His interview with the government agents at Sacramento Airport had lasted almost three hours. Then he had been escorted back through Immigration to the baggage hall only to discover that, while he had been detained, U.S. Customs had ripped open and searched through every one of his bags. They had then left his clothes and toilet articles in a heap for him to repack. They had also managed to crack the glass in the silver frame containing a photograph of Lucy, Matthew and Ben.

Dad had thought it interesting because my experiences with U.S. Customs had been quite similiar - even down to the glass in a framed picture of Tina being smashed.

Those interesting details aside, Extinction is a fascinating and brilliantly written book which is growing ever more topical. It concerns a near future in which corporations can control the Earth's weather, via enormous mirrors in space which can redirect the Sun's light. But what long term effects will controlling the weather have?

With most of the world (myself included) still ignoring the very real evidence of global warming, this book suggests that the inevitable consequences of our cavelier attitude towards the environment might arrive sooner than we thought.

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