Mud City Press

Home | Spaceship Earth | Book Reviews | Buy a Book | Bean and Grain Index | Short Stories | Contact | Mud Blog

Books of Fiction and Films Reviewed

By Frank Kaminski

Frank Kaminski has reviewed many books, documentaries, and films about peak oil and climate change for Mud City Press. This archive contains his reviews of novels, short stories, and films that explore these same topics through the lens of fiction. Frank's non-fiction reviews are located here. His reviews of books written or edited by John Michael Greer are located here.

The Kaminski Archive of Fiction and Films

"I found Dennis Mombauer's supernatural eco-novella THE HOUSE OF DROUGHT to be both captivating and confusing," writes Frank Kaminski. "I reveled in its vivid prose and exquisitely rendered weird horror tone, but had trouble following its story due to the dreamlike arbitrariness governing much of it."
"It began as a single short story titled 'An Important Failure,' which appeared in Clarkesworld Science Fiction and Fantasy Magazine in August 2020 and won that year's Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Award for best science fiction story."
Frank Kaminski offers praise for Jill Stukenberg's first novel NEWS OF THE AIR.
Kim Conklin's KING OF HOPE is a dark and heavy first novel about a town plagued by nuclear waste. The town is a fictionalized version of Port Hope, Ontario, a community that served as a center for radium and uranium processing for decades beginning in the 1930s.
Frank Kaminski reviews the Peacock Original miniseries LAST LIGHT, based on Alex Scarrow's novel by the same name.
Frank Kaminski reviews Cary Neeper's THE UNHEARD SONG, a prequel in the ARCHIVES OF VAROK series.
Frank Kaminski reviews Ralph Meima's trilogy of novels titled INTER STATES.
Frank Kaminski reviews J. G. Ballard's seminal work of climate fiction THE DROWNED WORLD.
SILENCE IN THE CITY: Stories of the Sudden End of the Modern World
"Last year, author and publisher Shaun Kilgore put out a call for stories for a new fiction anthology," writes reviewer Frank Kaminski. "The prompt was to write a tale in which life in a modern industrial city grinds to a halt due to a sudden disruption to its power supply." SILENCE IN THE CITY is that anthology.
ANNIHILATION, a movie based on the novel Annihilation by Jeff VanderMeer, is at once a nuanced exploration of trauma and identity, a surreal excursion into high-concept cosmic horror and an endlessly rich subject for intellectual debate.
The stories in this new quarterly fiction magazine will appeal to those who have tired of traditional science fiction, with its self-evidently false assumption that industrial society can forever defy the limits of our finite world.
10 BILLION is a sci-fi tale of astonishing scope and visual imagination.
THE LAST WINTER is an eco-supernatural horror film about oil workers in the Arctic who are stalked by a vengeful spirit determined to keep them from exploiting the oil.
For a book that can be breezed through in a couple of hours, Roberta Park's novella THE DISAPPEARING SHORE manages to plumb the modern-day human dilemma with surprising depth and emotion. It begins with a series of journal entries by characters from our present day. Then the narrative shifts to the future and we learn that those opening pieces were all part of an old book titled Underwater.
The movie SNOWPIERCER is a searing satire, a smart action epic and a cautionary tale about the folly of trying to solve crises caused by human technology with ever-greater applications of human technology.
THE DREAM HUNT AND OTHER TALES: Fiction of the Deindustrial Age
How will future generations fare in the world of scarcity and instability to which our present-day actions are consigning them? Catherine McGuire's short story collection THE DREAM HUNT AND OTHER TALES suggests a multitude of possible answers.
"When the medical thriller movie CONTAGION came out in 2011," writes Frank Kaminski, "it was widely praised for its realistic portrayal of a global pandemic scenario. In recent weeks, as the real-life outbreak of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) has spread around the world, there's been a surge of renewed interest in the film."
Frank Kaminski reviews Anthony Owen's novel set in a frigid, climate-changed England.
THE WILL AND DIANA ADVENTURES: A Collection of Short Stories and MY NEW-FOUND LAND: A Post-Apocalyptic Journey
Frank Kaminski reviews two outstanding deindustrial fiction books you may have missed from yesteryear.
THE SUN: A Mystery
THE SUN is the first novel in a fictional series set in New Mexico and written by J. Courtney White.
Frank Kaminski reviews author Pogoat's FAIR-WEATHER BROTHER, an environmental novella set in India.
EMPTY: Youth Fiction
Frank Kaminski reviews Suzanne Weyn's story about peak oil written for young readers.
Frank Kaminski reviews Catherine McGuire's fictional tale about life on earth following a massive solar flare.
AN ALIEN'S QUEST: A Novel from the Archives of Varok
Frank Kaminski reviews the fourth and final book in Cary Neeper's science fiction series.
"Craig Russell's FRAGMENT succeeds on multiple fronts" writes Frank Kaminski. "On one level, it's a fascinating work of idea-fiction that tells a tale of first contact between humans and whales. It also spins an absorbing thriller yarn in which a motley group of humans and a lone, heroic whale join forces to face an unprecedented threat."
INTO THE RUINS: A Quarterly Fiction Magazine–Issue 3
Frank Kaminski reviews the third issue of INTO THE RUINS, a fiction magazine that explores possible futures beyond our current age of unsustainable consumption and progress.
Frank Kaminski reviews George R. Fehling's post-oil novel DARK PEAK.
INTO THE RUINS: A Quarterly Fiction Magazine–Issue 2
Frank Kaminski reviews the second issue of INTO THE RUINS, a fiction magazine that explores possible futures beyond our current age of unsustainable consumption and progress.
INTO THE RUINS: A Quarterly Fiction Magazine
Frank Kaminski reviews the first issue of INTO THE RUINS, a fiction magazine that explores possible futures beyond our current age of unsustainable consumption and progress.
HARROWS OF SPRING: A World Made by Hand Novel
Frank Kaminski reviews the fourth and final novel in James Kunstler's epic tale of life in a post-petroleum world.
Frank Kaminsky's feelings about David Duchovny's new novel HOY COW are expressed concisely in his subtitle. "Mr. Duchovny should be feeling sheepish about the demands his drawn-out puns and barn humor make on our indulgence." Don't expect five stars on this one.
THE ALIEN EFFECT: A Novel from The Archives of Varok
Frank Kaminski reviews the latest novel, THE ALIEN EFFECT, in Cary Neeper's science fiction series THE ARCHIVES OF VAROK.
A HISTORY OF THE FUTURE: A World Made by Hand Novel
Frank Kaminski reviews James Howard Kunstler's third novel in the WORLD MADE BY HAND SERIES.
AUTUMN NIGHT: And Other Tales of the Future
Frank Kaminski reviews Randall S. Ellis' collection of dystopian science fiction.
Frank Kaminski reviews Gahan Hanmer's fantasy set in the wilds of Canada.
"When Cary Neeper first published excerpts of her novel The Webs of Varok on, one commenter dismissed the work as being 'merely a polemic pretending to be a novel.' Only the first charge is correct. The book clearly is an impassioned polemic against the extravagance and destructiveness of industrial society, but it's hardly 'pretending to be a novel.' Rather, it is an involving, well-plotted story that does justice to both the hard science underpinning its interplanetary settings and the long evolutionary perspectives typical of the old scientific romances."
Frank Kaminski reviews Risa Stephanie Bear's fictional post-peak oil trilogy set in the American Northwest.
WAS A TIME WHEN: What happens WHEN, not if, resource depletion, population pressures, and climate change push the world of our grandchildren into a great collapse?
"Sam Penny, in his novel WAS A TIME WHEN, intriguing possibility, " writes Frank Kaminski, " a future in which humans have evolved into an entirely new species. Known as the Neu-humans, these far-future descendants of ours are distinguished by their short tails, freckled appearance and super-intelligence–along with a strong tribal sensibility that compels them to tread lightly upon the planet and always make decisions rationally. Yet in spite of these radical advances, Neu-humans are just as preoccupied as we are with discovering their roots. Indeed, the story of WAS A TIME WHEN involves an archaeological journey to the "Lands of Oregon," from what is now northern Canada, to discover the missing link between humans and Neu-humans. The year is 3100."
FALLING THROUGH TIME: A Woman's Journey to the Future
The subtitle alone should be enough to attract readers to this new novel by Patricia Comroe Frank.
"We have a brand-new entrant to the oil-eating-bug-runs-amok tradition: the self-published novel PETROPLAGUE," writes Frank Kaminsk1. "It's a Crichton-esque thriller written by microbiology professor-turned author Amy Rogers, who says she aims to 'blur the line between fact and fiction so well that you need a Ph.D. to figure out where one ends and the other begins.'"
Frank Kaminski explores the concept of entropy in his review of two classics, Philip K. Dick's UBIK and Stephen King's LANGOLIERS.
VISIONS OF THE AFTERLIGHT: Reviews of Three Novels set in the Wake of the Age of Oil
Frank Kaminski reviews PLAYER ONE by Douglas Coupland, SHIP BREAKER by Paolo Bacigalupi, and AFTERLIGHT by Alex Scarrow.
PRELUDE: A Peak Oil Novel
"In today's world of corporate media ownership," writes Frank Kaminski, "Internet blogs and indie news sites have emerged as an increasingly important source of information on world affairs. And one of the best indie journalists out there, where energy and the environment are concerned, is Kurt Cobb. He's creator of the influential blog Resource Insights and a prolific contributor to websites such as Energy Bulletin, The Oil Drum and 321energy. He's also just released a page-turner of a first novel titled PRELUDE, which uses a Grisham-esque tale of suspense and intrigue to educate the public about peak oil." Read at Energy Bulletin.
"James Howard Kunstler has long been among the most talented, impassioned and engaging commentators on humankind's ecological crisis. But when he first proposed to incorporate his message into a work of fiction, neither his agent nor his publisher was thrilled," writes Frank Kaminiski in his review of Kunstler's second fine novel.
Frank Kaminski reviews two new post-oil novels, Robert Charles Wilson's JULIAN COMSTOCK and Holly Jean Buck's CROSSING THE BLUE.
Frank Kaminski takes an in depth look a two novels by Mud City Press' Dan Armstrong, PRAIRIE FIRE and TAMING THE DRAGON, and one by Sarah Hall, THE CARHULLAN ARMY. "I like Armstrong's two novels a lot," writes Kaminski. "Set concurrently in the near future, but on opposite sides of the globe, they tell two halves of the same story. It's a complex, sharply written, melodramatic suspense yarn that manages to be at once as entertaining as any kind of Jason Bourne/Ethan Hunt adventure and as serious a treatment of today's issues as an exposť by Upton Sinclair."
THE POST-OIL NOVEL: A Celebration!
Frank Kaminski reviews four post-petroleum novels. "Novels that deal with the collapse of our oil-based civilization undoubtedly belong under the heading of speculative fiction–and some even qualify as outright science fiction. But even so, there's an inescapable irony to their being categorized as such. This is because, by and large, speculative fiction is an optimistic genre. It celebrates technological progress and often tacitly assumes a near-endless supply of both energy and human ingenuity. Peak oil, in contrast, casts a ruthlessly critical eye on technological progress, human ingenuity, and alternative energy sources. Indeed, it considers the entire technological age to be nothing more than a charade, enabled by the reckless over-consumption of nonrenewable energy resources."
Frank Kaminski takes a look at another post-oil novel, ILL WIND (Tor Books, 1995) by Kevin J. Anderson and Doug Beason. "Unlike the other post-oil novels published so far," writes Kaminksi, "ILL WIND isn't about peak oil. In those other novels, oil has gradually dribbled away while we've steadfastly ignored the warning signs. But in ILL WIND, the world's oil vanishes suddenly after some bizarre, experimental oil-eating microbe is unleashed on a massive tanker spill, and then runs amok. What ILL WIND and those other novels do have in common, however, is that they imagine a future world without oil."
Frank Kaminski has done us all a service by adding the post-oil novel to his review of books that take on the subject of peak oil. In this case, it's James Howard Kunstler's novel WORLD MADE BY HAND.

Home | Spaceship Earth | Book Reviews | Buy a Book | Bean and Grain Index | Short Stories | Contact | Mud Blog