In a drowned world, the search for a future is a terrifying fight for survival The mighty ice caps at the poles are in meltdown. The seas have risen. And land has disappeared forever beneath storm-tossed waves....
EXODUS and ZENITH tell the incredible story of young people with the will to make their own new beginnings in the harshest of worlds.
ZENITH continues the stunning journey begun in the award-winning and critically-acclaimed best-seller EXODUS.The Story Behind the Story
by Julie (Please click on the underlined sections):
In 1999, a snippet of news that should have stopped the world in its tracks caught my eye. Two South Pacific islands had disappeared under the sea. Many more were at risk. For decades, the islanders had been trying to alert the world to the rising ocean. Now they were faced with moving entire villages inland, hut by hut. Mass evacuation loomed. But where to? Stuck in a corner of a newspaper, the islanders' plea to the world hit a wall of disinterest.
Back then, the scenario of a drowning world seemed a far-fetched fantasy. I did some research on global warming and what I found out made my heart stop. The stories that spark my imagination are about individuals on the edge, on the cusp of change and the plight of these islanders began to haunt my imagination. Sometimes you don't choose the stories; they choose you. And so I came to write Exodus and its sequel Zenith, the future story of a drowned earth. Now global warming is on every front page. By 2100, the year of my future story, global warming is forecast to destroy the lives of over 100 million people and create the greatest refugee crisis the world has ever known. It's all too much, too terrible to take in. Especially if you're young and your life lies ahead. It's your future at stake. Best just plug in the iPod, have a laugh on YouTube and hope the grown-ups sort it out in time. And yet ... the response from young readers to Exodus and Zenith has been astonishing.
As a teenager I devoured fiction that asked big, hard questions about the world. Back then, there was little fiction written specially for young adults, so I leapt from Alan Garner and Ursula Le Guin's fantasies to science fiction like Le Guin's The Left Hand of Darkness and John Wyndham (the melting ice caps in The Kraken Wakes now seem eerily prescient). Books like these forged my imagination. They were prisms through which you could explore the issues and apocalyptic terrors of the time. Humanity has a rendezvous with destiny. As President Jacques Chirac said, our house is burning down. Our future depends on us turning a new page in the human epic and imagining a whole new way of being in the world. Science is key, but fiction can offer a map, torch and compass through terrors and dreams.
Travelling into an imagined future is both thrilling and terrifying. Returning to the here and now, the world seems to have shifted on its axis. Things don t feel quite the same. And now, I'm setting off again to continue this epic story. Imagining what may be doesn t mean it will be. But asking questions about the future is a powerful thing to do. The future is not set in stone. In realworld, the day ticks by at its normal pace. Time travelling, I feel as if some mischievous time lord reset the clocks. Each morning I zip away, a hundred years into the future, then crash-land back in the here and now, thinking an hour has passed - and wonder why I feel dizzy, my coffee is cold, I'm starving and my body's gone numb. I ve been writing so intensely that the day has flown past. It s deep into the afternoon. On the evening news, the freak weather on the screen seems to belong to the Century of Storm that I imagined in EXODUS. On the radio, I hear politicians squandering precious time, arguing over global warming, debating what they should, could, might, and probably won't, do. Almost ten years on, the plight of those South Pacific islanders is now even more desperate. Evacuation plans are tied up in red tape. No one wants the world's first climate change refugees. Often these days, as I surface from writing, I feel I m caught within a fragile membrane that separates what is from what may be. The future seems to have arrived a lot sooner than expected. These are the last words of the prologue in EXODUS.
Stand at the fragile moment before the devastation begins, and wonder: is this where we stand now, right here on the brink?
Read Exodusand Zenith and see what you think.
Reviews for Zenith
'I was transfixed by the poetic vision of Julie Bertagna's Zenith. A breathtaking sequel.'
Mark Fisher, Scotland On Sunday
'so vivid is Bertagna's writing, so urgent her narrative... Exodus and Zenith are like two chapters in some magnificent epic.'
'awesome: a collection of characters we learn to love, a vivid sense of time and place, a page-turning adventure.
'For all those who enjoyed Philip Pullman's Dark Materials trilogy...terrific storytelling power, an ambitious and intellectually stimulating novel.'
Reviews and awards for Exodus 11+ years (Mammoth £5.99)
Reviews and awards for Exodus 11+ years (Mammoth £5.99)
'A miracle of a novel...a book you will remember for the rest of your life'
Independent, Books of the Year
'A beautifully written epic tale'
SF Said, Whitbread judge
'An epic scope and a mythic feel, brilliantly imagined, and very page-turning'
'Beautifully and intelligently told'
News and Star
'A truly wonderful read'
'This is a fantastic, enthralling novel by an author who should soon be ranking with Philip Pullman'
'This is a fantastic novel'
Mail on Sunday
'The most exciting book I've read all year'
'Fresh, brilliantly creative'
'This is a book to read again and again'
'An ambitious, futuristic, environmental wake-up call'
Shortlisted for the WHITBREAD CHILDREN'S BOOK OF THE YEAR
Awarded anECO PRIZE for Creativity (FRIENDS OF THE EARTH SCOTLAND AND ECO TRUST)
BEST SCOTTISH BOOKS OF 21ST CENTURY (THE LIST)
Winner of Lancashire Children's Book of the Year Award.
Nominated for the Carnegie Medal.
Shortlisted for the Angus, Portsmouth, West Sussex and Wirral Book Awards.
Over to you.... Every place has fragments of its lost history and legends set in stone. See what you can discover about the legends, coat of arms, symbols and statues in your part of the world. Imagine what a future people might make of it. Make a brand new legend of out of what you find. In Exodus, this is what the Treenesters, a future people who survive in the drowned ruins of Glasgow, do with Mara and the legends of the old, lost city. Refugees, global warming.....and Elvis
Over to you....
Every place has fragments of its lost history and legends set in stone. See what you can discover about the legends, coat of arms, symbols and statues in your part of the world. Imagine what a future people might make of it. Make a brand new legend of out of what you find. In Exodus, this is what the Treenesters, a future people who survive in the drowned ruins of Glasgow, do with Mara and the legends of the old, lost city.
Refugees, global warming.....and Elvis
Global warming and the refugee crisis are themes at the heart of the book. Elvis (who appears in the story as a virtual reality ghost) is important too! When I began to write Exodus, none of these were in the news. But in the months leading up to the book’s publication, refugees and asylum seekers became world news and in the very week the book was published, Europe and many parts of the world flooded. Suddenly Exodus began to seem less like a future story......to cap it all the 25th anniversary of Elvis’s death coincided with the launch party of the book. Uncanny stuff....
Look up these great links:
Or do your own internet search on global warming or the world refugee crisis. Write an opinion piece and find an audience for it (as an article or letter for your local newspaper, school magazine or for your own website)
Words can be warriors and world-changers, for good and for bad, as the characters in the book find out. Write a poem or your own story on the theme of a flooded Earth or refugees seeking asylum from war or natural disaster.
EXODUS is now published in many languages. Here are a few of the foreign covers.
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