GB No. 2(17)/95
I have recently read four such books: The Fifth Shade of Green by Marcin Wolski, Flesh and Blood by Graham Masterton, The Truce of Fire by David Morrell, and This Spring The Lark Sings for the Last Time by Johannes M. Simmel. All of them are quite readable and in the case of the most interesting one, The Truce of Fire, I just could not help reading it.
I will focus at first on the least fascinating one, on The Lark. In contrast to the other books, this one is not fiction. It may be classified somewhere between a realistic novel and a paradocumentary. Simmel appears to represent a viewpoint which among extreme right-wingers would gain him the name of a leftist. Most of the environmentalists are victims of Nazism or their children, and the "polluting" businessmen are either former suppliers of Cyclone B for fascists or military gas for Reichswera. In case of troubles they flee to South America and they are strongly supported by the present German Establishment. The whole affair is connected with nuclear energy, weapon trade with the Third World (the widely known case of military gas plant for Kadafi included) so as you can see the environmental protection is rather on the political side. In spite of certain stylistical shortcomings of the novel resulting from the fact that Simmel conveys in his book his strong political beliefs, the author neither stretches the truth nor agitates. For a reader who spent years under communism it may be irritating but still the novel is worth reading. At least to understand how history and political situation may influence perception of environmental problems in various countries. Moreover, the book includes a lot of information concerning nuclear energy engineering, backed up with a bibliography. The milieu of environmentalists is presented quite realistically: a lot of chaos, exaltation, good will, intrigues, suspicions and, frequently, a very non-environmentally-friendly life style. The book is not exciting, but when you have struggled with the beginning you may get really interested. Unlike the other novels discussed in the article, this one is not brutal or, like the novel by Masterton, disgusting.
The remaining three books make excellent train reading, merging criminal writing and science fiction. In all of them the question of eco-terrorism appears. In the best one, The Truce of Fire, believers of an ancient god Mitra drown in oil people responsible for tanker crashes and pierce those who dump medical waste in the ocean with thousands infected needles. Environmentalists presented by Masterton in Flesh and Blood are also ruthless: they do not refrain from attacking innocent passers-by; shooting at policemen and risking the lives of many people in the name of improving conditions of pigs. They are puppets in the hands of cynical politicians who prepare bills banning meat trade only to buy shares in soybean processing factories and in the illegal meat market. However, Marcin Wolski is simply the best at unmasking the true face of environmental protection. Environmentalists in his The Fifth Shade of Green annihilate big cities with nuclear bombs and during seemingly peaceful demonstrations they pull out machine-guns.
In the books environmentalists are juxtaposed with the world of politics, business and science, described in similarly bleak tones. The presidents in The Truce of Fire by Masterton does not care for anything but the coming election and the geneticist cannot destroy a monster bred by himself as too much money was put into the program. Heroes of the novels are always average men, free from fanaticism, who want to live and work in peace. In the case of Morrell and Masterton this results from the sheer principle of good literature, according to which the main character cannot be a fanatic of a bigot. But Wolski tries to promote such an attitude as a kind of ideology. But the ideology of the average can also become tyrannical. Wolski has introduced to his book a character of a doctor who may presumably represent the author himself. The decent citizen lives peacefully but if it is necessary that he becomes a hero and makes beautiful women fall for him. Unfortunately, the doctor has no chances of winning as he has to fight with spies who try to lay their hands on scientific secrets and who manipulate environmentalists' organisations. The environmentalists are not only puppets but also they appear to be a collection of frustrated good-for-nothings who compensate for their life-failures by fighting to protect the environment. The one and only worthy character is a romantic idealist and an international adventurer. He must lose, of course. In Wolski's book policemen compare environmentalists to Nazis and the world ruled by them is similar to Cambodia. The author makes one of his protagonists cite a story of trout in the Thames, very popular in the times of Polish fascination with Mrs Thatcher. By the way, Simmel writes about seals dying in the North Sea.
In the last part of his book Wolski depicts the world ruled by ecologists and the phases of the rule are close to those that took place in France in the 18thc. The author concludes:
Today the wheels of history are turning backwards. The Programs of young ideologists are increasingly demanding. The rat race goes on. Maybe they believe in what they propagate, in naturalism, in happy Arcadia. Maybe some day we will return to the trees and we will find Paradise there.
What we have here is a concoction of history, development, belief in the average man, democracy in which politics is filthy, theory of evolution. Capitalist Arcadia on theThames is contrasted by reasonable Wolski with the Arcadia in the trees propagated by ecologists. The latter will cause the world to collapse and worldwide migration. But Wolski does not notice that the migration results from climate changes. He does not suggest who is to do anything constructive. The good old chap, the doctor is O.K. and taking the viewpoint of a man in the street is quite comfortable and popular. But when such an attitude becomes a political program it is just a delusion of a petty middle-class man who does not care what happens outside his living room and who thinks that all problems can be solved by police and experts for whom he pays taxes. Such a man does not like it when anyone tries to spoil his cosy calm and he readily accuses those who want to do anything of dirty intentions, manipulation and fanaticism. It is easy to criticise terrorism if you forget that is a weapon of the weak. Great industrialists legitimately cause thousands of people to die and the fact that they pay for hospitals does not make them less guilty. To be killed by a terrorist is equally as terrible as to die of cancer. But the middle-class man always supports authority, he supports the stronger. He turns a deaf ear to anything that may spoil his peace of mind.
The review is entitled Books about Ecology and Environmentalists because when you read the novels you can see that though people become aware of environmental dangers they dislike environmentalists. They accuse them of fanaticism which consists in the activists putting all their energy into humiliating others and proving that only they are right. Presenting their opinions is more important for them than true achievements. Real ecologists are under constant pressure from those who are not interested in the actual results of their activity. It reminds me of a scene from the film In the Name of the Father : the hero, hunted by IRA and police, gets to a hippie community where he opens his suitcase in which there is a sausage from his aunt. What's this? It's a corpse! - this is the sentence. You cannot change the world in this way, in this way you can only close people in ghettos or sects. The four novels give you a lot of food for thought. What they poke fun at is pacifism as a disguise for hate, love for animals combined with contempt for people of different opinions. Masterton poses a question as to whether we can give up animal-originated medicines in the name of love of pigs. Almost everywhere in the books you come accross bitter remarks aimed at oversensitive or infuriated feminists: Would you like such ladies to take over power? - asks one of the characters of Wolski's novel. All these comments may be irritating but, like any criticism, they should be taken to serious consideration. And that is why I would like to recommend these books to you.
reprinted from Zielone Brygady 12/94