I want to say that this is JG Ballard’s second novel. And while I’ve read only two other of his novels (that I can recall), I have read all of his short fiction so I have a decent sense of him. We are asked to resist the temptation to see JG Ballard as a kind of prophet in an introduction to the novel by Martin Amis. His point, as a good liberal, is that if we read this book as a prophetic vision of our future world in climate change, we’d have to reckon how the heating of the Earth in Ballard’s novel comes from a phenomenon of the sun and not human made changes. So I have agree here. What does come out of that introduction is the reminder that fiction that allows us to better understand humanity, and therefore speaks to human action in politics, is infinitely better than political books. And I agree. I don’t not really know the politics of a lot of books of the 19th century for example, but do understand their humanity.
But this book takes places in a future London that has been subsumed by the rising oceans after the Earth has heated enough to melt the icecaps and drowned out much of humanity. There’s a large focus on seeing the new climes as the catalyst of the next stage in human evolution, through the total devolution of human society, even as we follow a group scientists, still doing what scientists do.