The Wintermen III: At The End of the World by Brit Griffen, from Latitude 46 Publishing, is the third instalment, and conclusion, of the author’s dystopian climate change science fiction series. Set in the vicinity of Cobalt, Ontario Canada, which for those that don’t know is in the northern part of the province, it depicts a world where the climate is so out of whack North America is locked in perpetual winter.
When the winter came the government went and a multinational corporation, Talos, took control and now rules with an iron fist. One of their first acts was to round up everybody in the north and drag them down to The City. However, a few folks held out and holed up in an old hotel in Cobalt. Labeled terrorists by Talos, The Wintermen have held off two attempts by the corporation’s security forces to take them down.
However, things are about to get a whole lot more difficult for the northerners. First of all, Johnny Slaught, the heart of the community that stayed in Cobalt, has been taken by Talos. A raid for supplies had gone badly wrong and Slaught had been snatched by security forces.
The second problem is there’s a new man in charge at Talos. While the corporation honchos have always been greed heads looking to exploit anything they can in their favour, Eton Love has a ‘vision’ of a brave new world where everything is used properly. All that untapped potential wealth in natural resources going to waste in the north! Something has to be done.
To that end he’s outfitted a train and packed it with the slave labour required to clear the tracks so it can bring progress back to the land. In the wake of disaster there are always those looking to exploit the opportunities created through misfortune, and Love and Talos epitomize what Naomi Klein named Disaster Capitalism.
Wintermen III is not just a conflict between people trying to preserve their independence and those wishing to control them. In the microcosm of Cobalt and Ontario Griffin has depicted the struggle that’s existed ever since the first colonial power claimed someone else’s land as their own.
While those who were indigenous to an area saw it as home and a place to live with and cherish, the invaders only see it as something to exploit. They look at untouched forests and unexploited mineral wealth as land not being put to use properly. The fact that the latter philosophy has won out so far is what’s landed us in the climate crises we currently face.
Griffin is far too skilled a writer to spell all that out in her narrative. However, throughout the course of Wintermen III this tension and theme is quietly spelled out through the depictions of how the two different sides in the conflict relate to the natural world, and the natural world’s reaction to them.
Griffin has used wolves to make her point. For the Talos folk are deathly afraid of wolves and even employ people specifically to kill them along the train’s path. Naturally the wolves respond in kind and proceed to pick off any human from the train whenever they can.
On the other hand the people of Cobalt allow the wolves to go about their business and in turn the wolves leave them alone. For some reason no other animal seems to draw such a fearful reaction from so called civilized people. Wild and untameable they epitomize all that’s wrong with nature – it can’t be controlled. As a symbol for different people’s relationship with nature they are incredibly effective.
The Wintermen III is a wonderfully written story filled with memorable characters and nail biting action. It is so well written you don’t notice how Griffin manages to infuse it with her plea for change. If you like your fantasy/adventure seasoned with intelligence and compassion this is the story for you.