News on the BBC Environment page yesterday ( Antarctic ice is melting at an increasing rate. The overall rate of rise is 3 mm a year, of which Antarctica is contributing a fifth at the moment. 3 mm might not sound much, but at that rate the Wash and the Somerset Levels will be back under water by the middle of the next century . . . What will life be like?

Have I Been Too Optimistic?

OK, so Truth Sister isn’t out yet; but it nearly is (1 July). One of the themes it explores (besides the increasing effects of disease, the energy crunch, and what a predominantly female society might look like) is climate change. For that, I looked at what might happen with 2-3 degrees warming in a century or so. But, according to a BBC news item today, maybe that was too optimistic. We might be heading for that amount of warming a lot sooner – unless the international community can find a way of working together . . .

Review: Assembly of the Dead (Saeida Rouass)

An absorbing, intriguing mystery set in early-twentieth century Morocco. At a time when the country is falling under the influence of imperial Europe, a series of disappearances brings Farook al-Alami, a detective from Tangier, to the distant town of Marrakesh. The story not only tells of the solving of the mystery, but also of the petty politics and rising tensions in a society in flux. Saeida Rouass paints a vivid picture that captures the essence of that place and time, yet the pace never slackens and the twists and turns keep the reader hooked until the very end. Recommended.

I gave this four stars on Goodreads.

What’s In a Name

Excellent workshop on Saturday with Richard Skinner of the Faber Academy, held at Swindon’s Richard Jefferies Museum. The subject was characterisation, and amongst other things we explored the effectiveness of character names. I was still thinking about this on Sunday as I tried to rescue some of my panel-fencing, and indeed my apple tree, from some marauding ivy (Latin name: hedera helix). It was well and truly taking over, having curled itself around the trellis top and forced its way between the boards, even causing the wood itself to flake away in places. Clearly the only things that mattered to the ivy were (a) surviving and (b) getting to the top; and it didn’t matter what it destroyed on the way. Funnily enough, one of the characters in Truth Sister (out in July) is called Mater Hedera . . .