Heron Fleet by Paul Beatty. Book review

HERON FLEET by Paul Beatty, Matador Press, P/B, £8.99

Reviewed by Steve Dean

The world of humanity has gone to pieces, again. This time the culprit holding the smoking gun is climate change, causing long, harsh winters and short summers. Francesca lives in the titular Heron Fleet, an idyllic farming commune, where all the residents live in peace and harmony and homosexual relationships. Beyond its borders, the world is a violent place of scavenger gangs and lawlessness, you know, like in 90% of the SF films and video games of the last several decades. One of the book’s heroes, Tobias, trades food and raw materials between these two communities, while trying to find out what happened to the planet and how to fix it.

Of all the vanity published books I’ve read recently, this is probably the least offensive. It’s well written and researched, if unoriginal, there are few typos and other mistakes, and plenty of 3D characters. There are fake news articles posted between the chapters, which add to the atmosphere, and are a nice touch.

Unfortunately, despite the author being a competent writer, what he isn’t is a storyteller. There’s no pacing, no bonding with the characters, and no spark. I didn’t identify with any of them, nor get drawn into their world or their problems. I found myself thinking, ‘I don’t care’. It’s like a handsome politician, it looks nice, but it has no heart.