Blog Tour: The Forcing, Paul Hardisty

Book Review: The Forcing, Paul Hardisty

Book Review: The Forcing, Paul Hardisty

Fiction: The Forcing, Paul Hardisty

Blog Tour February 20, 2023


Curiously, our most previous review on Scintilla was of a collection of short stories expressing hope that climate change can and would be addressed. Paul Hardisty’s novel The Forcing is not so hopeful. In a world where pandemics, climate change, and brutal wars have wrecked the planet and decimated the population, one family tries to make their way in a new and harsher environment.


The story is written by a first-person narrator looking back on his life. Known through most of the book only as “Teach,” chapters set apart in italicized print look at his current life, living on a remote island with his wife, their two sons, and his sons’ families. Looking back on how they got to that island, Teach starts with the day that everything changed.


Teach was living in Canada with his then-wife, May, working as a high school science instructor (hence the nickname). While at work, a long-dreaded letter arrives. Teach is part of an older generation, described by the young rulers of the country as “the Responsibles,” a generation that did not stop climate change when they had the opportunity. Responsibles are being sent to relocation sites in the south to make room and save resources for the younger generation growing up with the consequences of the previous generations’ choices. Teach’s time has come. Unexpectedly, May also receives the letter. Although she was a bit younger than her husband and had expected to be spared relocation, the rules changed and she is included.


They are sent to a camp in Texas. This camp is not the retirement village they had been promised. They are forced to labor for their rations, water is in scarce supply, and people often “disappear.” Teach inadvertently discovers that individuals who challenge the authorities are taken to a building at the edge of the camp, shot, and their bodies dropped into a vat of acid. They all quickly realize that there is little hope of survival, little chance for escape, and no chance of returning home.


How Teach and May manage to escape and what happens during their journey is the meat of the novel. The southern US has become a no-man’s land, ruled by warlords and religious cult leaders, populated by bandits and desperate families hanging on by a thread. Further south, a wall is being built by Mexico to keep Americans out. Nuclear fallout has changed the color of the sky. Only a few rare places are still reasonably habitable.


Paul Hardisty’s writing is very powerful and the plot is very interesting. I fear giving away the major plot elements in spoilers, but his take on the forces behind climate change is eye-opening and horribly believable. Teach and others find out just how far they will go to survive, how salvageable their civilized mores are in the face of desperation, how much greed and money and selfishness and power continue to dominate even in a world on the brink of collapse. In a world that requires cooperation and collaboration for life to continue, we may already have written our epitaphs in pens of oil and blood.


Our thanks to Anne Cater from Random Things for our copy of The Forcing, provided so we could review it for this blog tour. The opinions here are solely those of Scintilla. For other perspectives, check out the other bloggers on this tour.

Book Review: The Forcing, Paul Hardisty

Book Review: The Forcing, Paul Hardisty

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