"This is a great speculative thriller, fast-paced and pulse-raising, that isn’t so far-fetched." Sarah Neilson, Shondaland
"Haunting and lucidly written . . . Jones’s visionary tale is a singular, brilliantly crafted addition to the climate fiction genre." Publishers Weekly (starred review)
Praise for the UK edition of Stillicide
Science Focus, 1 of the 10 Best Science Books of the Year
"Fragmented, marvellously compressed . . . The radical distillation of language, the sense that every word has been individually chosen, results in a blunt perfection that heightens this effect. Narrative exists, but it is secondary to form. On first encounter at least, the pleasures Stillicide offers appear to be more aesthetic than dramatic . . . With recent novels from Megan Hunter, Jenni Fagan, Richard Powers, Ben Smith, John Lanchester and Ghosh himself working hard to imagine the effects of climate crisis at both the global and the personal level, Stillicide can be added to the growing roster of powerful and urgent meditations on the future. As a tract of written language, it is close to perfect. As a repository for ideas, it is imaginative and far reaching. As a story of and for our times, it is very human, and deadly serious." Nina Allen, The Guardian
"As we are drip-fed more details, the stories pool together into a pellucid portrait of a broken world . . . Less a linear narrative than a layering of images, Stillicide is an exercise in matching literary form to a visual idea: as Cynan Jones’s sparse, clear words accumulate down the page, we are left feeling the chill of a slowly melting iceberg."Clare Saxby, The Times Literary Supplement
“How big this small book is, giving the barest details of its future world . . . Exciting, upsetting and essential.” Financial Times
“A piece of superb hardboiled noir . . . Stillicide has an enigmatic, surging power . . . This is a novella that seeks to alienate us from our grip on language and from our everyday taken-for-granted understanding of reality . . . powerful and disturbing.” New Welsh Review
“A tense and moving love story . . . high-stake miniatures that expertly convey the impression of time moving but also staying still . . . unforgettable.” Daily Mail
“A more powerful parable is hard to imagine . . . Wonderfully pared back and impressionistic.” Scotsman
“Jones lets the contours of his chilly prophecy emerge in glimpses, leaving plenty of white space for the reader's imagination.” Metro
“Twelve sparely written but moving tales of near-future water shortages and overpopulation.” New Scientist
From his 2006 debut novel, The Long Dry, to his recent Cove, Welsh writer Jones has consistently offered unconventional fiction that attracts award attention. He continues to challenge readers in his new work, in which a climate crisis has pushed a near-future Britain into extreme weather, with floods, drought, and rising temperatures. The economic agenda is dominated by ways to obtain a water supply for a growing population. Previous attempts—an underground pipeline and a heavily armored water train—have been attacked by vigilantes, protesters, and terrorists. The latest plan is to tow icebergs from the Arctic to an ice dock where the melt off, i.e., stillicide, which will provide pure drinking water and agricultural irrigation. With the population being given only corporate platitudes, journalist Colin digs for answers about this venture. Then a scientist discovers the small skeletons of dragonflies in the bulldozed earth near the ice-dock construction, and if larvae exist as well, work on the dock could come to a halt. Meanwhile, John Banner, a soldier patrolling the water train route, must decide if an intruder alert on his computer is business as usual, but tragically this time it is not. VERDICT Jones's compressed, minimalist style heightens the effect of a precarious future for a world where climate chaos is deadly serious, creating an absorbing narrative for sophisticated readers.—Donna Bettencourt, Mesa Cty. P.L., Grand Junction, CO
A grim vision of near-future Britain as climate change increases its grip.
Welsh novelist Jones’ latest isn’t so much an apocalyptic novel as an apocalypse-in-progress one: Britain isn’t yet in tatters due to global warming, but it’s rapidly getting there. In desperation, an iceberg is being hauled from the Arctic to bring fresh water, bolstering what's already being distributed via a “Water Train” that can carry 10 million gallons at 200 miles an hour. The precious cargo is well protected against monkey-wrenchers: There are weapons onboard, and guards are stationed along the tracks. But anxiety is high, symbolized by one of those guards in the early pages investigating an anomaly while stressing over his dying wife and the general sense of impending calamity. Jones shifts this brisk story across a variety of perspectives: a journalist skeptical about the iceberg scheme; protesters at risk of displacement from the construction of the Ice Dock; the journalist's wife, a nurse pondering an affair; a scientist who discovers a protected dragonfly, which threatens to halt the Ice Dock plan; a boy chasing his dog into a guarded area; a father distressed at his son’s work for the Water Train, which is under seemingly constant threat from saboteurs. In prior novels, Jones has proven masterful at spare, aphoristic sentences that create a sense of foreboding, whether his subject was drug trafficking or hard-luck rural hunters. There are glimpses of that here. But though Jones’ long-running concern with nature makes climate change a natural theme for him, this novel lacks the earthy grit of his earlier work and the kind of clarity a thriller demands, even an ersatz one.
Jones finely captures the mood of a country nearing collapse, but his plot threads are loosely woven.