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The Sea And Summer

3.85  ·  Rating details ·  499 Ratings  ·  48 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 ap ...more
Hardcover, 318 pages
Published 1987 by Faber and Faber Limited
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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
Mar 11, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Aug 31, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jun 10, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Oct 22, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Una vez más, he tenido ciertas dudas a la hora de valorar esta novela. Sé con certeza que se encuentra en el 3.5, y aunque tal vez pueda superarlo un poco, me ha parecido que las cuatro estrellas serían excesivas.

Como novela distópica o postapocalíptica, resulta interesante sobre todo en su construcción de la sociedad en un mundo que se derrumba, y en la aproximación realista a las causas de tal derrumbe, en el que todavía se encuentran los personajes inmersos en la novela dentro de la novela.

Catherine Siemann
Jun 09, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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.
Steen Ledet
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.
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
Dec 06, 2013 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
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
J.G. Follansbee
Sep 12, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: climate-fiction
This review was originally published on my blog. Who wrote the first climate fiction novel? The small cadre of writers and editors interested in this new branch of science fiction cite J.G. Ballard’s 1962 novel The Drowned World as one of the first, if not the first, novels to explore how humanity copes with a warming world. But Ballard’s novel was published long before human-caused climate change was identified in the 1980s. In his world, an uptick in solar radiation melts the ice caps and floo ...more
Apr 01, 2013 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.
Oct 28, 2014 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.
Aug 28, 2008 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.
Nov 18, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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)
Best example of climate fiction I've 25 yrs old but mostly feels prophetic rather than dated
Jul 23, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Published in 1987, The Sea and Summer (Drowning Towers in the USA), but for a few anachronistic omissions (for example, mobile phones), could have been written today.
The story, set in an imagined mid to late 21st century is told from a future perspective, by an archaeologist historian turned author. When I say imagined, it's not that much of a stretch!

The collapse of civilisation as we know it, has already occurred with population and global warming especially, cited as the main causes. We find
Nicholas Whyte
Dec 11, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

I confess that I knew nothing of this book or of the writer, and had no expectations whatsoever; and I also confess that I really liked it. It's set in a dystopian Australia of the near future (though the story is told with a framing narrative of researchers from the not-quite-so-near future looking back and trying to work out what was going on, a device I usually love). Society is divided between the well-off Sweet and the proletarian Swill, and the cen
Ignacio Navarro
Se plantea como "El mejor heredero de Orwell" y la verdad es que se puede apreciar su influencia en toda la obra. Al ser de 1987 tiene en mente otro problemas como la superpoblación, la economía o la guerra nuclear.
Es un libro que empieza bastante bien, contándonos el futuro a la obra principal para comenzar con la historia principal.
Tiene un buen comienzo, describiendo los problemas de la sociedad y enseñándonos ligeramente a los personajes. La novela avanza poco a poco, por veces bastante len
Nov 30, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science-fiction
The type of mediocrity this book represents is probably familiar to you if you read science fiction: it's a dystopia generated by taking a current problem with society and extrapolating it into its worst possible outcome. Thus did book burning beget Fahrenheit 451, did Christian fundamentalism beget The Handmaid's Tale, did Collectivism beget Anthem. Turner does the same operation using global warming, with mediocre results. Not that it's just about global warming, as Turner instead throws overp ...more
Ricardo Carrión Pavez
Las torres del olvido nos invita a un viaje hacia un posible futuro cercano. A mediados del siglo XXI, una sociedad completamente desestabilizada lucha por sobrevivir en medio de una crisis social, económica y ecológica.

En un futuro indeterminado las personas intentan reconstruir el pasado de lo que denominan "La cultura del invernadero", que entró en crisis a partir del año 2040. La historiadora Lenna Williams ha recopilado suficiente información sobre las personas que protagonizaron dichos ac
Feb 04, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jan 10, 2016 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jan 08, 2015 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
Vanessa J
What I enjoyed about The Sea and Summer was the lack of an antagonist. Most dystopian books are stories of resistance, of little people against oppressive regimes like 1984 or the Hunger Games. For them there are terrible external enemies that must be vanquished for the world to right itself.

But for George Turner's characters, the enemy is far more subtle than that. It comes from within. The protagonist family's downfall from 'Sweet' (financially self-sufficient) to 'Swill' (living on governmen
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
Kathy Sebesta
Aug 07, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
May 22, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 extremely disconcerting thing for a modern reader.
I usually point
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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 about George Turner...

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