UPHEAVAL – A Short Novel

Book Review by Kip Hansen —  1 December 2020

Susan J. Crockford —  biologist, author and bone whisperer – has today released her latest fiction effort:  “UPHEAVAL- a short novel”.

[Just now available from Amazon in Kindle e-book and Paperback formats]

Here’s the leader from Dr. Crockford:

Eighty-six year old Duff Gillies didn’t want to die without telling the story of what he’d witnessed during the great sea ice tsunami that devastated Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia back in 2026. That was the winter he’d agreed to take young Izzy Walker on as his student aboard the Ice Queen and the year polar bears invaded the Gulf of St. Lawrence for the first time. After an unsettling polar bear encounter out on the ice, Duff thought he’d seen everything but then three ice-covered waves turned his quiet maritime existence upside down. Called on to help a good friend rescue his brother, he and Izzy witnessed first-hand the devastating toll the tsunami had taken. But Duff had an experience no one else did and it came to haunt him. This fictional first-person account of the greatest tsunami disaster ever to hit a North American shore is a story you won’t want to miss. It’s a short novel that will leave you astonished at the destructive power a tsunami can muster when it teams up with thick sea ice cover.” – source

This is a terrific little book – short enough at 159 pages to read in a single bout of insomnia or to pass a pleasant afternoon or long evening on a cold rainy winter day (which is exactly what I did the minute I received my advance review copy).  

The story takes place in a part of the world I have never visited but had no trouble visualizing from Crockford’s almost cinematic prose:

This map, included in the book, will help those unfamiliar with the area to find their way around.  Those familiar with the sea will see at once the possibilities presented by the geography of the Cabot Strait, which runs between Newfoundland and Nova Scotia – our protagonists live on the northeastern-facing shores of Cape Breton Island, at Neil’s Harbour, on the Sydney Bight.  As the book quip has already revealed, an earthquake takes place just off the southwest shore of Newfoundland, marked “Epicenter”.  

I always find that maps help me understand a story that takes place across a wider area.  I offer this rendering of the geography – the nautical chart of North/South Harbours with a detail of Dingwall Harbour.  When you read the book, you can use this one for detailed reference:

Dingwall Harbour is under ½ mile long – and sees a lot of the action.  Neil’s Harbour, Duff’s home port,  is just south of the point at the bottom right of the chart above. 

I know we have geologists and geographers reading here, I’ll let them explain in the comments the consequences to be expected from the quake – and the resulting tsunami — and geography.  Having spent about one-half of my adult life living aboard ships and boats on the seas, I can personally attest to the authenticity of nautical details of the book.

Full of fascinating detail of the seal hunting life in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, hunting on the shifting and ever-changing ice, the book is insightful and will expand the readers’ breadth of experience.    And it exposes the inner-life and thoughts of an old man of the sea coming to grips with forces of nature that can humble even a man of unending confidence. 

After introducing the story as the re-collections of an old man trapped by the nursing home restrictions implemented after the Covid-19 pandemic of 2020 which limit visitors to once a month – we read what Duff Gillies records on tape for his grandson to transcribe — his never-before-told story of his personal experiences during the Cape Breton Island Ice Tsunami of 2026 (five years in our future),

Regardless of your interests, you’ll find this book a rewarding and fulfilling read.  You will not be disappointed.

Boats, adventure, the sea in winter….and, did I mention Polar Bears?   Yes, there are polar bears ready and willing for action.  Who could possibly ask for more?

I read a lot.  I write some.  And I recommend this book to anyone looking for that ever-so-rare commodity — a just plain Good Read.

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Edward Hanley
December 1, 2020 11:02 pm

Thanks for an intriguing review; just the kind of book I’d enjoy. Amazon says it will be available Dec. 3. I have pre-ordered my Kindle copy. In the meantime, we can read Susan Crockford’s other well researched polar bear books: “Polar Bear Facts and Myths,” “Polar Bears, Outstanding Survivors of Climate Change,” “The Polar Bear Catastrophe That Never Happened,” and a novel about rogue polar bears with the disturbing title, “Eaten.” Can’t wait!

Vincent Causey
December 1, 2020 11:38 pm

So let me understand the time line. Duff was in a nursing home in 2020 where he records his experiences of 2026? I’ll probably get it over Christmas.

Tim Gorman
Reply to  Vincent Causey
December 2, 2020 4:32 am

The nursing home restrictions were put in place in 2020. They are still in place after 2026. A prediction of government control over our lives.

Reply to  Vincent Causey
December 2, 2020 4:41 am

That threw me initially also. On rereading, it turns out that it doesn’t seem to say, either in this article or the book blurb, in what year the novel is set. The central character is recalling for posterity events that took place in 2026, and he is living in a nursing home, which has implemented a policy of only allowing residents to have visitors once a month due to the policies implemented after the 2020 Covid experience. The book likely states the date of the telling, but nothing in this article gives a clue. Just some time after 2026. It sounds interesting and different. I expect it will be both entertaining and educational. Hope it gets a wide audience.

December 2, 2020 12:13 am

Much further south, in the early Holocene, in warm climate a civilisation leaves records twice as old as pyramids and hieroglyphs
Warm is good, cold is bad, very bad.

John Tillman
Reply to  Vuk
December 2, 2020 2:53 am

If 12,500 years old, then three times the age of the pyramids. But not evidence of a civilization. For that you need cities, which at a minimum require agriculture.

Reply to  John Tillman
December 2, 2020 4:48 am

You might think so, but I have visited parts of one or two cities, without naming names, that hardly could be called civilised. /sc

Reply to  John Tillman
December 2, 2020 8:55 am

Göbekli Tepe may have been a starting point

Crispin Pemberton-Pigott
Reply to  Krishna Gans
December 4, 2020 6:30 am

There are several described and photographed in the large format book “Waterworld”. There are at least two large cities under water off the East and West coasts of India – about 60-100 ft under water. They have megalithic structures. Now that Prof Davidovits’ 5th edition of his highly technical book “Geopolymers” is out, we can study these structures and find that gigantic blocks of “stove” are in fact cast geopolymers. It seems the technology was known for several thousand years before being lost for the last 2000.

Modern arrogance is all-pervasive. There were many large cities which have been lost to the sea.

Reply to  John Tillman
December 2, 2020 9:11 am

There are people saying the oldest civilization may be the Australlian Aborigines, living 50,000 years in Australia.

Mike Dubrasich
Reply to  John Tillman
December 2, 2020 9:25 am

By what definition must “civilization” require cities and agriculture? And how do you define or specify “city” and “agriculture”?

A better definition of civilization is: a well-developed human society with social organization and culture. The Colombian rock artists of 12,500 years ago had language, graphic art, symbology, music, religion, medicine, housing, transportation, family structure, tribal/political structure, complex survival strategies, and myriad technologies to achieve those. They were fully modern humans capable of rational discourse, advance planning, and group action.

Calling paleo people “primitive” or “uncivilized” is a form of narcissistic bigotry — or at least a constricted and biased view of history. My ancestors (and yours) had their act together. They must have, or you and I wouldn’t be here. A little respect would be nice.

Reply to  Mike Dubrasich
December 2, 2020 3:28 pm

The Colombian rock artists of 12,500 years ago had language, graphic art, symbology, music, religion, medicine, housing, transportation, family structure, tribal/political structure, complex survival strategies, and myriad technologies to achieve those.

Yeah, and what have those Romans ever done for us?

Reply to  Mike Dubrasich
December 3, 2020 12:46 pm

“A civilization (or civilisation) is any complex society characterized by urban development, social stratification, a form of government, and symbolic systems of communication (such as writing)” [Wikipedia]

When there is urban development there must also be agriculture, otherwise the inhabitants of the urban culture cannot be fed, watered and have fresh straw issued.

Craig from Oz
Reply to  John Tillman
December 2, 2020 6:00 pm

I prefer the Sid Meier definition of Civilization.

You must survive the test of time, and not get nuked by Ghandi.

Bingo Bango Bongo.

derek N
Reply to  John Tillman
December 4, 2020 11:09 am

J.T-Did you ever hear of gobekli tepe ? There was no civil structure back then say the experts ! Look it up it’s fascinating. And in Turkey

December 2, 2020 12:24 am

finally Susan capitalises on her key ability: writing fiction

Pat from Kerbob
Reply to  griff
December 2, 2020 7:41 am

Petty and small, right to the end.

Sing it, preacher

David Blenkinsop
Reply to  griff
December 2, 2020 7:45 am

You’re just jealous because she apparently writes better fiction than the IPCC does.

Bill Powers
Reply to  griff
December 2, 2020 8:29 am

Griff, your skirt is showing, you whiney little twit. A little bit of maturity would be a much better look on you but you wouldn’t know how to put it on.

Reply to  griff
December 2, 2020 9:34 am

Griff, Susan has written both fiction and nonfiction. If you weren’t such a pillock you would know that.

Tom Abbott
Reply to  griff
December 2, 2020 9:36 am

“writing fiction”

It looks like you are calling Susan a liar again, Griff.

Could you provide any instance where Susan’s science is fiction? Of course, you can’t. Your aim is to assasinate the character of anyone who disagrees with the Human-caused Climate Change narrative, including especially, prominent scientist who disagree.

You, Griff, are the one being dishonest. You are the one writing fiction.

Reply to  griff
December 2, 2020 11:11 am

The big difference is that Susan KNOWS when she is writing fiction.

You remain clueless to the FACT that ALL of your posts are provable WRONG…

…. and derived straight from FANTASY LAND

Reply to  griff
December 2, 2020 11:27 am

Puts Susan in the league of Issac Asimov, Arthur C Clarke, Julian Huxley, Fred Hoyle.

I’m sure Susan would gratified by your comment, griff.

Do try to stop proving that you are a moronic cretin… We already know that. !!

Paul Penrose
Reply to  griff
December 2, 2020 11:35 am

That’s rich coming from someone that can’t write anything well. In truth, it’s more difficult to write good fiction than most people think. You literally have to invent an entire story and the people in it (which is the hardest part). Depending on the genre, you may also have to make up an entire world (science fiction, for example) along with place names, customs, cultural backgrounds, politics, etc.

Craig from Oz
Reply to  griff
December 2, 2020 5:54 pm

Bit confused here, Griff.

Are you congratulating her for joining your profession, or passive aggressively telling her to stop cutting into your market?

Reply to  griff
December 2, 2020 5:57 pm

Now that was just rude, Griff.

Reply to  griff
December 2, 2020 11:15 pm

Susan has SEVERAL key abilities.

Poor griff….. has NONE

griff is right at the bottom of human evolution

…. an empty mind locked in a padded cell..

December 2, 2020 1:19 am

There are two sources for historic tsunamis in the north atlantic, Canary Island eruptions and sub sea slumps off Norway.

December 2, 2020 5:18 am

Does the novel discuss the 206 year volcanic cycle which repeats in 2026? Did the author pose that as causing a heavier sea ice pack in 2026 by obscuring the sun with ash & aerosols?

What’s the URL for the WUWT article that posed 206-year volcanic cycles as a climate change cause?

John F Hultquist
December 2, 2020 9:15 am

Kip mentions geography, so I’ll take liberty and mention the area described has been known as “Lower Canada.” Likewise the area nearer Toronto (Lakes Erie & Huron) is “Upper Canada.” The break is usually shown as near Montreal.
Regional geology is fascinating, with a connection between local rocks and those along the NE edge of Africa. Cue folks at Dalhousie University.

[If Susan ever visits the central Washington State area – Ellensburg/Yakima – I’ll buy dinner.]

Reply to  John F Hultquist
December 2, 2020 10:27 am

John ==> I believe Susan Crockford lives in Victoria, British Columbia.. so not that far. Her email is on her professional website.

John F Hultquist
Reply to  Kip Hansen
December 2, 2020 1:13 pm

December 2, 2020 11:52 am

I want to apologise to Susan for not purchasing..

.. but I won’t buy from Amazon.

Reply to  fred250
December 2, 2020 1:57 pm

Fred ==> I sympathize but e-books being sold on Amazon are basically self-published. I will ask the author if it is available from any other outlet.

Tom Abbott
December 2, 2020 1:01 pm

A Tsunami involving large amounts of ice is a novel idea to me. I wouldn’t want to be on the receiving end of that!

I’ll have to read the book to get a feel for the kind of damage something like that could cause.

Reply to  Tom Abbott
December 2, 2020 3:15 pm
Gary Pearse
December 2, 2020 5:57 pm

Thanks for the review, I’ll get the book. I’m a geologist but I have another item than tsunami to mention that I think will interest you. Did you know that what was at the time (February 1942) the worst US Navy disaster – three warships, USS Truxtun (DD 229), USS Pollux (AKS 2), and USS Wilkes (DD 441) ran onto the rocks at Burin Peninsula (on your maps) in a winter storm with high seas and a whiteout storm. “Out of a total of 389 personnel aboard Truxtun and Pollux, there were 203 casualties and 186 survivors. ” The ships missed the entrance to Argentia Bay where the US had a base and drifted westward into the Burin Peninsula.

Most survivors owed their lives to brave and strong sea folk of Burin Peninsula who rescued many hauling them up 250 -400 ft cliffs by ropes. The grateful US Navy returned after the war and built Little St. Lawrence’s first hospital. I was headquartered in Little St. Lawrence in 1971 running a mining exploration project. The US government closed the base a year or two later. There is a plaque recounting the accident on the hospital grounds.

You may recall immediately after 9/11, commercial aircraft en route to the Eastern Seaboard were redirected to Gander Newfoundland where passengers were billeted, cared for and charmed by the wonderful people of Newfoundland. It is a wonderful scenic place with the friendliest people anywhere on earth.

Here is a pic of St John’s harbour with its narrow deep entrance nearly filled by a cruise ship

comment image

Cliffs along the coast:comment image

Reply to  Gary Pearse
December 2, 2020 7:27 pm

Gary Pearse ==> Thanks for the story and the local color.

This is the story of the 1929 Burin Peninsula Tsunami.

Ken Currie
December 3, 2020 6:50 am

Oops. It’s spelled “novella.”

Patrick Peake
December 6, 2020 1:36 am

Bought it and read it. Her descriptions make me feel the chill of the ice even down here in sunny Western Australia

December 7, 2020 5:13 pm

A darn good read. I found myself constantly toggling between Google Earth and Google Maps to follow the geography in the story. The premise of the ice is fascinating , I wonder whether anyone has modeled it in a wave tank, not in a computer.

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