Dystopian satire evokes impact of climate change and technology in South Pacific nation


Stella’s world is unravelling in this remarkable work of speculative fiction – reminiscent of Netflix satire Black Mirror and The Handmaid’s Tale – a new novel from writer and literary agent Chris Else.

‘Slowly, the air opened over Byte. A clear view of the seawall stretching from headland to headland two streets back from the old esplanade. The sea was thrashing itself white on the breakwaters and the black wreckage of abandoned buildings. Behind the wall the mottled mass of the town was strewn like rubble across the valley floor.’

Climate change is ever-present in chilling, dystopian novel Waterline. Here, in a remote South Pacific nation, coastal settlements are being inundated and families uprooted; Artificial Intelligence controls most human endeavour; social media has run amok; and many have fled from reality to live online.

Losing their beachfront home to storm and high seas, wealthy nuclear family the Handsons have little choice but to move to Byte, a bleak, southern city run by computerised bureaucracy BORIS and a gang of religious vigilantes. Separated in the move, Brian ends up on the wrong side of the law and is incarcerated, leaving wife Stella and their two teenage children, Mandy and Luke, to fend for themselves. An offer of help from a group of outsiders, living off the land, promises redemption and hope, but at what cost?

Waterline explores the choices our own and future generations might have to face in our  increasingly complex society. It is a dramatic and portentous tale about the decisions we make now and how they might challenge all our values. Darkly humorous, laced with violence and corruption, it also examines the human capacity for change, responsibility, self-determination,
the search for meaning and love.

CHRIS ELSE was born in the UK and came to New Zealand age 13. He attended Auckland Grammar School and Auckland University. Chris has worked as a teacher, bookseller, publisher rep and computer programmer and has taught both creative and technical writing. He has published six adult novels and two collections of short stories. Chris has also written plays for stage and radio and scripts for television. He has twice been National President of the New Zealand Society of Authors (PEN) and
has also been chair of the board of directors of Copyright Licensing Ltd. Chris and his wife, fellow author Barbara Else, were instrumental in setting up both the New Zealand Association of Literary Agents (NZALA) and the New Zealand Association of Manuscript Assessors (NZAMA). With Barbara, he runs TFS, a small literary agency and manuscript assessment service.
Waterline is his ninth published work of fiction.

Waterline by Chris Else, trade paperback, Quentin Wilson Publishing, 01 Nov ember 2019, RRP: $34.99

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