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The Last Gasp is a science fiction novel first published in the mid-eighties that is part ecological thriller/ part cold war spy drama and part science fact! It takes a pre-emptive glance at one possible future for our planet if we carry on the way we are going and attempts to highlight the dangers of ignoring vital enviromental signs that might have far-reaching consequences for the Earth!
Marine biologist Gavin Chase is performing experiments in the Antarctic when a Russian scientist quite literally comes storming into camp. Badly injured and unable to talk any english, his last act, before being sheparded out to an American military base for interrogation, is to give Chase a standard scientific formula written on paper and to pass on the name of one of his associates. Meanwhile, out in the Pacific, recluse Theo Dettrick makes a startling discovery and realises that the future of the Earth is in jeopardy. Unfortunately no one is willing to listen to his fears for the future and big corporations just wish him silenced. Over the next few decades, his predictions for the enviroment begin to come true...but is it now too late to act?
This is one of my favourite books of all time that I have read several times over the years and which came out long before we had films like The Day After Tomorrow. It is very bleak at times but has a chilling message that should not be ignored. Namely that the needs of our planet vastly outweigh individual country's political gain and that only by working together can we hope to turn the tide of damage we have caused! Unfortunately, with the negative real-life results of events like the recent Green conference in Copenhagen, it largely looks as though this is a message being ignored by the Goverments of our world. The possible end repercussions for behaviour for this are very accurately and brilliantly explored in this novel and though it may be fiction, the themes and ideas herein examined are not!
If you enjoyed the overall ideas of the more recent novel, The Rapture, but like me thought it was not perfectly executed, then you should read this and see how such themes should be properly done! Where this book works over films such as Day After Tomorrow is that the story is told over several years, decades even, rather than in the space of a few days or months ~ one of my bugbears with both the film Day After Tomorrow and recent novel, The Rapture! Each new segment of the tale carries on several years after the last with handy recaps of what has gone on inbetween in a style that at no times feels forced or artifical. By following the same cast of characters too, Hoyle is able to pull you into the story and keep you interested and there is no point when this stretches credubilty. The other good thing about it too though is that ithe novel ends not with despair but with a faint glimmer of hope for humanity leaving you with a few last vestiges of postivity!! Too often these kind of books can leave you feeling depressed and unhopeful....here, at least, there is one small glimmer of light left at the end of the tunnel. That is not to be said that everything is all resolved and tied off neatly however, because that would be too convienient and unfaithful to the rest of the novel, but simply that all is not lost in the final pages!
Overall, this is a highly important and enjoyable science fiction novel that has largely, like the message it tries to convey, been forgotten. But if you don't read this you'll miss a treat and you never know this could even become your survival manual!