Monday, March 3, 2014

The Moving Snow: A Review

Ian Weekley's The Moving Snow is an icy apocalypse. Written in 1974, it is  set 15 years in the future: 1989.  The setting is a small hamlet outside of the small market town of Spilsby in Lincolnshire, and eventually moves to the Welsh Coast. Over the course of a few years, the climate gets progressively colder, and winters longer.

Ian Weekley (1933-) was born in Heathencote in rural Northamptonshire.  A school teacher, he  had a special interest in rural and environmental problems. As a side note, he is not the same person (different birthplace) as the military modeler/author of the same name. This may be his only published novel.
Lincolnshire, for those not familiar with the specifics of  United Kingdom geography is about halfway up the eastern coast of England on the way up toward Scotland.  I think the oil rig in Alex Scarrow's Afterlight was located off the coast here, and Tom Ward's more recent A Departure started in the area.  Obviously heavily "apocalized" territory, although in this case we are in the countryside with the hobbits country folk.  The novel later takes a journey to the more survivable Welsh coast, where our trepid band teams up with some remnants of a small fishing village.
The action is mostly about a small community of folks, not particularly well trained for roughing it, in the cold wilds, developing skills and a survival strategy for making a go of it.  There are a number of times when the main character lucks into some money which gives them the ability to buy some of their supplies, but it isn't all that overdone.  The story could have had them just buy some of the itmes before prices went through the roof.  With the Northern part of the country slowly being abandoned there is a lot of stuff that can be picked up for free.
What is interesting is that the author does not ignore the problems of violence, or disease in the now overcrowded Southern England, it just doesn't happen to our group.  It is a somewhat straightforward tale, except that unlike say the kids in our recently reviewed The Darkness After, who are cursed with interesting lives, our group has a bit of luck, and avoid the bad guys and diseases.  They are just a little too far out, and too remote, to make easy picking.  They stand watch, and don't ignore potential problems, its just that they don't happen.  It makes for a sort of sedate read.
The novel does read like a bit of a cosy, where the author obviously thinks there are advantages to being able to live a smaller, simpler life.  That having money to invest, and smooth the way, doesn't hurt.  The hobbits country folk settle down and live happily ever after.
Did I enjoy it?  Yes, it was a slow paced, but fun read.  Not a classic, but different enough, and well though out enough to keep up the interest level.  While we don't worry much about ice ages anymore, some of the survival thoughts aren't completely dependent on the frosty backdrop, and the characters methodical preparations and the author's scenario building are interesting.  So I would call it a qualified recommendation.
We now come to our two descriptive (not qualitative) ratings: 1 to 7 with 4 the mid-point and 7 high. Realism does not include the cause of the collapse or apocalypse, but is otherwise an assessment of how close to today's world is the setting. Could you imagine your friends, or families living through the situation. Readability is not literary merits, but literally how quick and painless of a read.
Is it realistic?  Mostly, the author's undeserved wealth is a little unrealistic, and could easily have been substituted for a little more advanced preparation.  Much of what they do wouldn't require massive wealth, if they had used a little more forethought.  There are realistic concerns about supplies.  We will call it a six.
Readability is mixed.  With very little action, almost none really, it is not a page turner, but it isn't overly complicated by lots of metaphysical wisdom or symbolism. It is a relatively quick read: a 5.

No comments: