Dale Pendell is not only a contributor to the Huffington Post; he also achieved cult popularity with the Pharmako trilogy ("an encyclopedic study of the history and uses of psychoactive plants and related synthetics"). A proponent of what his website (dalependell.com) calls "wild mind," he has been deeply influenced by "poet Gary Snyder, Zen teacher Robert Aitken, and philosopher Norman O. Brown."
Now the Sierra foothills resident traces the ecological history of California for the next ten thousand years in a new science-fiction novel, "The Great Bay: Chronicles of the Collapse" ($21.95 in hardcover from North Atlantic Books; $9.99 in Amazon Kindle and Barnes & Noble NOOK e-books). In 2021 a pandemic destroys most of the world's population, brought on, it's said, by weaponized bugs from the Americans and the Chinese.
"By 2031, ten years after the Collapse, the population of the United States had stabilized at four million." Carbon dioxide emissions from now-defunct factories had triggered a vast chain reaction. Global warming, and the rising oceans, would change the face of the world.
Pendell is scheduled to be in Chico tonight at 7:00 p.m. for a book signing and discussion at the 1078 Gallery, 820 Broadway. The free event is sponsored by Chico's Lyon Books.
The novel uses maps, travel journals, poetry, interviews, and news accounts to flesh out the human response over the course of millennia. Each chapter begins with a "panoptic," an overview focusing on the social and climate changes reshaping California.
As declarative sentences multiply, it's evident that the remaining humans are somehow surviving in small, do-it-yourself communities. In an address in 2171 to the Berkeley Scholar's Guild on "Pre-Col Society" one historian notes: "It was called democracy but it wasn't at all what we mean by that; it was really an oligarchy. Representatives weren't even required to do what the people wanted them to do."
In the years 2121-2220, "twenty feet of water lay over Sacramento. . . . The Sacramento Valley had become a great bay, already stretching 125 miles from the Sutter Buttes to Modesto. . . . A tallow industry developed at Chico, producing candles. Tanbark and hides were floated to Santa Cruz, where locals operated a tannery."
People followed Earth's rhythms, not the other way around.