Bill McGuire

September Book Review –
Skyseed by Bill McGuire

Be afraid, be very afraid!

From the first few paragraphs of the prologue, this future history novel is a roller-coaster ride of intrigue, suspense and action. Approximately half way through, the reader is lulled into a false sense of relief that things are going to quieten down, only to find that their loosely seatbelted carriage is climbing yet again, preparing to plummet them towards even more scary twists and turns.

Skyseed Cover

Set between the years 2028 and 2055, it covers a time period many of us are likely to live through. It is my sincere hope that we experience a vastly better future than that portrayed in this terrifying view of what we could end up doing to the planet. 

The main characters are well rounded and believable, from Jane Haliwell, a scientist and mother, to the repugnant President Gort. I found myself comparing the novel to the many Dan Brown works, and not unfavourably so. If Bill had added a sprinkling of mystical symbols and ciphers to decode, the military character Ralph could have taken on a role similar to Robert Langdon.

This story painted pictures in my mind, from the prologue right through to the last full stop. It could easily be transformed from a great read to a screen experience, albeit one where the audience leaves the theatre in a sombre, reflective mood.

This is not a story for the faint hearted. I could hardly put it down and when I read the final lines and closed the book, I threw it on the bedside table with an expletive-laden “Good grief!” If you’re looking for fuel to fire your environmental activism, look no further.

As the subject matter covers ecological disaster, it piqued my interest to contact the publisher, The Book Guild, to ask about their environmental policies. I received a swift response from their Managing Director, Jeremy Thompson FRSA who wrote,

“We’re a small publishing company with a young team that works hard to be energy-efficient and to minimise our carbon footprint.”

“…the book retail industry is terrible. It is one of the few industries that still operates on a sale or return basis, so books tend to get shipped back and forth from retailer to distributor and back. There’s nothing we can do about it until the big players decide to move the goalposts, which we all wish they would, as it’s a costly system for a small publisher (apart from anything else)… we do what we can with direct sales, but most sales are still made through bookshops and Amazon.”

Simon West with Skyseed

As a former publisher, I can vouch for this. Remaindered stock that doesn’t go straight to pulp to be turned into cardboard is often sold at ridiculously low prices just to get rid of it. I have absolutely no doubt that Skyseed will not meet this tragic, wasteful end. If you want to buy this book with the planet in mind, I recommend going directly to the publisher, or order it from your local, independent bookshop. You may have to wait a few days, but the world will be better for it.A cautionary tale such as this should be widely read and talked about. We must all ensure we do everything we can to avoid the necessity for the measures taken in this scarily possible and believable version of our future. I’ll end here, or I risk giving too much of this enthralling plot away.

Bill McGuire is an academic, blogger, broadcaster, activist and popular science and speculative fiction writer. He is currently Professor Emeritus of Geophysical and Climate Hazards at University College London, a co-director of the New Weather Institute, and a patron of Scientists for Global Responsibility.

Skyseed will be published on 28th September 2020 by The Book Guild and is priced at £8.99.

Bill McGuire can be found at BillMcGuire.co.uk

We have a signed copy of Skyseed to give away. To be in with a chance of winning, simply complete the form below before midnight on 30th September. One of our fabulous volunteers will draw the winner at random.

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    Simon West and The Team