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Drowning Towers

3.89  ·  Rating Details  ·  401 Ratings  ·  34 Reviews
Francis Conway is Swill--one of the millions in the year 2041 who must subsist on the inadequate charities of the state. Life, already difficult, is rapidly becoming impossible for Francis and others like him, as government corruption, official blindness and nature have conspired to turn Swill homes into watery tombs. And now the young boy must find a way to escape the app ...more
Mass Market Paperback, 387 pages
Published December 31st 1996 by Avon Books (first published 1987)
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Cli-Fi: Climate Change Fiction
30th out of 136 books — 182 voters
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Future Book Club Selections?
6th out of 70 books — 6 voters


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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,341)
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Sean the Bookonaut
The novel has been out of print for some time, indeed I tried to find a copy a couple of years ago and couldn’t. Thankfully Gollanz have seen fit to reprint it as part of their masterworks series.

So how, after 25 years, does the book hold up?

Remarkably well is the short answer. Apart from a couple of historical errors that have crept in with the relentless march of time, it’s a book that fans of Paolo Bacigalupi’s Ship Breaker series and Anna North’s America Pacifica would enjoy.

It’s a story wit
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Mark
Mar 15, 2008 Mark rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
Technically a science fiction title, it is more just near futuristic – and hauntingly plausible. In the coming decades, class stratification leads to sharp division between Sweet (those with jobs and a tenuous grasp at some sense of instable stability, roughly analogous to our present-day middle class) and Swill, the despised underclass forced to contend with sea levels rising around their high-rise towers, massive unemployment and no sense of hope. Billy Kovacs, a tower boss, keeps his world af ...more
C.S.
Jun 12, 2014 C.S. rated it it was amazing
It's been a long time since I've read any science fiction that I could call absolutely amazing. This is a very quiet book that develops slowly and requires close attention to its characters. Turner manages to write about a possible future when climate change (referred to as the greenhouse effect since it was published in 1987)has created a different kind of world.

If I didn't have so much other reading to do, I'd start over again right now, from page one.
Sjancourtz
Jun 10, 2011 Sjancourtz rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: anyone who likes grim future predictions
Recommended to Sjancourtz by: no one
One of the all-time best science fiction books ever! Takes place in Australia, in a world where global warming and rising sea levels and a collapsed economy divide people into two groups: the "sweet"--those who have jobs--and the "swill"--those who live on a meager public assistance program in decrepit public housing, scrabbling to survive. This is your future, America. Wake up and do something before it's too late.
Martina
Aug 31, 2015 Martina rated it liked it
Shelves: sf
Drowning Towers is yet another good entry in the science/speculative fiction genre. The title ruins the first impression, though, because it sets the tone of doom and gloom way too early. For that reason, the title given to the novel inside the novel - The sea and summer - works much better. The sea and summer is very innocent and is very much in contrast with the world the author portrays.

Turner's vision of the future is grim and dreary; it might not be as extreme as Harrison's Make room! Make
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Tripp
Oct 22, 2008 Tripp rated it really liked it
Me oh my oh, the Australians know how to show the slow slide into apocalypse. Mad Max shows a world not too different from our own, but terrible in its changes. In that movie, the changes are never really discussed, but they are the subtext of the film. Australian author George Turner's Arthur C Clarke Award winning Drowning Towers (known as the Sea and Summer in the UK) tells a similarly bleak tale of life after the decline of civilization.

The book is framed by a story of the Autumn people (so
...more
Catherine Siemann
Jan 23, 2011 Catherine Siemann rated it really liked it
Recommended to Catherine by: Judith
This book was recommended to me when I was looking for a novel about ecocastrophe to teach; it's very much a pity that it is out of print. It was published in 1987 and the concerns it reflects are still very much in the forefront, particularly economic collapse and ecological catastrophe.

In mid-21st century Australia, there is 90% unemployment, the small and tenuous middle class (the Sweet) are in constant fear of losing their jobs, but buck themselves up with their scorn of the Swill, who live
...more
Steen Christiansen
Wonderful, thought provoking science fiction from an author I've never heard of. A multi-pov novel that uses two separate futures to comment on the inability of representing the whole throug the part, but also the inability of doing anything else. The calm, measured unfolding of almost inevitable events builds into a terrifying intensity at the end of the novel.
Alistair
An incredibly prescient novel (published in 1987) set in a 21st century Melbourne that is drowning, literally, as the Greenhouse Effect has made chaos of the weather and food production. Only the tallest towers and the Dandenongs remain above water as the haves and the have-nots battle for survival.
Liz Barr
I’ve never been an advocate of the idea that you must be familiar with certain writers and works in order to call yourself a science fiction fan, but sometimes I find a gap in my reading that’s frankly embarrassing.

So it was with George Turner, the Australian, Melburnian author of acclaimed SF and literary novels. Until The Sea and Summer was quoted in Sophie Cunningham’s Melbourne, I had never heard of him.

Born in 1916, he was already an accomplished critic and novelist (winner of the Miles Fra
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Bill
Nearly 3 decades ago the author said this book is not prophetic or a dire warning. He was wrong. It, like 1984, is both. It is perhaps the scariest novel I have read since. Scary because the science, politics and social effects of climate change he shows are all coming true.

This is done using elegant characterization. Billy Kovacs, Teddie Kovacs... will be part of my life from here on—as will the stink of humans.

Turner reveals truths and obvious secrets that today would likely deem him 'terror
...more
Heffy
Feb 04, 2016 Heffy rated it liked it
I continued my search for novels on the topic of climate disaster, and I was surprised to find one set in Melbourne Australia. I'd never heard of it before, nor the writer, George Turner, who once upon a time won the Miles Franklin. Apparently he turned to science fiction in his later years, and Drowning Towers was written at the ripe old age of 70. He died in 1997.

The novel is set around the middle of the 21st century. The temperatures continue to rise and Melbourne is getting rather subtropic
...more
Olivier
Jan 29, 2015 Olivier rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
En ocasiones, la gente de marketing de las editoriales pueden ser los peores enemigos de la lectura. La frase de la portada de esta edición, “Una novela visionaria sobre el cambio climático”, francamente me ahuyentaba.
Afortunadamente, el error fue enmendado y me encontré con una excelente novela de ciencia ficción, aterradoramente actual a pesar de haber sido escrita en 1987. El escritor australiano George Turner no tiene piedad para mostrarnos hasta dónde llegó el capitalismo salvaje que actual
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Julie
Sep 05, 2008 Julie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: all my friends, who'll listen
Recommended to Julie by: Janeen Webb
A must-read for anyone who is not yet concerned about the devastation we are causing to the environment. And it's set in right here in Melbourne. Mainly in Newport, actually... Close to home. A well-deserved winner of the Arthur C Clark award. RIP George.
Bernardo
Jun 30, 2013 Bernardo rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Uno no puede evitar relacionar el mundo distopico de Turner con lo que vivimos en la actualidad (Cambio climático y estancamiento económico, pero llevado al extremo, donde se puede ver las consecuencias de la auto complacencia.
Orlando
Oct 28, 2014 Orlando rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Estupendo libro. Tengo que admitir que su primer capítulo me desmotivó un poco, pero una vez que el autor comienza "realmente" la historia, esta se vuelve absorvente y profunda. Me recuerda un poco a George Orwell.
Kathy Sebesta
Aug 07, 2015 Kathy Sebesta rated it really liked it
This is an early version of "What happens to society when global warming hits?" and it's a very well done one.

As the global economy crashes and the oceans rise, flooding everything, society has become divided into Sweet (those with jobs) and Swill (the vast majority, who have nothing to do and nothing to do it with). How does this work at any level? What and where is its future?

Fascinating questions and encompassing characters, all of which the author deals with adroitly right up until the las
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Paul
Nov 18, 2007 Paul rated it it was amazing
sci-fi: using an alternative/future view of science and reality to paint your picture or build the world that makes us question our own (cf. Drowning Towers)
MichaelK
Feb 11, 2016 MichaelK rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: abandoned
The Sea and Summer (1987) by George Turner opened well: an unspecified time in the future, a scholar and a playwright wander around some ruined, partially-submerged 21st century tower blocks, complete with faded graffiti murals:

'The subject common to graffiti the world over appeared again and again in blatant crudity and total lack of draftsmanship, but the finest example, drawn over all the rest and pristine in reproduction, graced the door of the corner flat. In brilliant, impertinent white a
...more
Torsten
Best example of climate fiction I've 25 yrs old but mostly feels prophetic rather than dated
Brant
Mar 31, 2014 Brant rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a good book, but it was missing….something. The population - and the planet - are ravaged by climate change and changing technology. The people are fractured into several groups: the low-class, jobless Swill, living off of the Government in cramped high-rise towers; the elite Sweet, living in mansions and doing their best to forget about the Swill, and the Fringers, the poor souls on their way from Sweetdom to Swilldom.

The story focuses on a particular Fringe family, the Conways; the tw
...more
Martin Hernandez
Primera novela de "ciencia especulativa" que leo sobre el tema del calentamiento global. Me niego a llamarla de "Ciencia Ficción" aunque la haya colocado en ese "estante". Esta novela hace un análisis minucioso y arriesgado del futuro cercano, basado en extrapolaciones que toma de la sociología, la economía y la ecología.
TURNER nos presenta el colapso de la civilización capitalista haciéndola coincidir con un abrupto cambio climático. Obviamente resulta bastante dudosa la coincidencia de estos s
...more
Michael
Jun 28, 2016 Michael rated it it was amazing
This was utterly amazing. As a heavy reader in the 'future speculation' and post-apocalyptic genres, I was stunned by the prescience of a book written in the 80's. More than anything, the psychology of desperation in both 'the state' and the individual was beautifully showcased. This is as much a character study as social commentary. A continual parade of choices, limited by circumstance rather than any idealism or morality...an extremely disconcerting thing for a modern reader.
I usually point
...more
Jane
Dec 08, 2013 Jane rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2013
Curious to think this dystopia was written about global warming in the 1980's, Fascinating now. A lot of the other things haven't come to pass yet, but who's to say.

It was written at a time when Melbourne had an empty city centre, high unemployment, dysfunctional high rise housing..

I knew the Richmond flats then.The house my father grew up in was slum cleared to build the Richmond flats mentioned in this book. I had friends who lived in them. They were scary, the lifts didn't work half the tim
...more
Kim
Jul 05, 2015 Kim rated it it was ok
TWO AND A HALF STARS

TRIGGER WARNINGS: suicide, non-sexual domestic violence, non-sexual violence, substance use, racism, classism (socioeconomic), prostitution and sex involving minor and adult (14 and mid 20's), kidnapping, brainwashing, torture

Great interest turned to disinterest and disgust turning, eventually, to disappointment. An ending would have been nice. It had the makings of an important book. In the end, though, I'd say it's owed a loss in the obscurity of a sea of books.

Not recommen
...more
Pichicarro
Mar 06, 2013 Pichicarro rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sci-fi
No tenía yo explorada la Sci-Fi australiana y lo he encontrado muy interesante.
La verdad es que, teniendo en cuenta que el invierno está siendo templado pero con violentos temporales siberianos, que el estado está a dos velas y que tenemos un 55% de paro juvenil, no parece ajena ni fantasiosa, y eso que se escribió en los 80.
Por ponerle un pero, me parece que le sobra la parte de la gente del Otoño, aunque supongo que ayuda a dar perspectiva histórica a lo que se cuenta.
Edward Davies
Apr 18, 2015 Edward Davies rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 4-star-reads
I actually found this book really enjoyable – the characters, though pretty standard, performed some interesting roles in this book about a future plagued by social division and ecological disaster. Turner gives us a story that takes class distinction to a new level and creates a world that is scarily possible in a world plagued by natural disasters as well as man made ones.
Jane
I loved the premise and the setting - great to read a book written in the 1980s whose social and meteorological predictions still sound plausible. And I always like a story set in Melbourne's west. But the style wore me down - that pompous, didactic tone, with every character sounding pretty much exactly the same, got the better of me. I gave up.
Jessica
Sep 17, 2013 Jessica rated it liked it
For a book written in the 80's (or almost any time) this fortells future issues from overpopulation, currency devaluation, economic crises, global warming, nuclear crises, and biologic warfare. Interesting book with interesting characters.
Niall519
SF set in my home town! One of Turner's better stories; exploring the social and economic implications of major climate change... written a good while before many others were discussing it.
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Goodreads Librari...: combining 3 16 Oct 03, 2015 06:45AM  
SF Masterworks Group: The Sea and Summer, by George Turner 1 4 May 31, 2013 11:59AM  
All politicians should be made to read this book 1 5 Sep 01, 2008 04:33AM  
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George Turner was born and educated in Melbourne. He served in the Australian Imperial Forces during the Second World War.

Prior to writing science fiction, he had a well established reputation as mainstream literary fiction writer, his most productive period being from 1959 to 1967, during which he published five novels. Over a decade after his previous publication of a full length work of fictio
...more
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