July 01, 2011

Summer Reading List: Player One

As CNAS is on vacation this week, we
continue our Summer Reading List recommendations. Enjoy!

never guess who is writing about peak oil these days. Douglas Coupland. Yes,
the Generation X author who has
profiled pandemic apathy, the rise of internet-focused culture and other
monumental social shifts has brought abrupt, catastrophic petroleum shortages
into the narrative of one of his most recent novels.

what you need to know in terms of summer reading. Player
One: What is to Become of Us
is a very short, quick read. The
oil-related scenario that drives that plot is the primaplayer onery tie to current
events; the book reads as more fictitious than did his previous novels like Generation
and Life
After God
. There are a few unexpected twists, drama, emotion and
interesting characters. Overall, it’s worth the couple of hours it takes to
grab the book from your library and give it a read.

Player One, Coupland brings us to an
airport hotel lounge in Canada. The story follows a set of characters of diverse repute. As they find themselves together in this cocktail lounge, they see on the TV news scroll that oil prices have risen above $250. It turns out that one of the characters is quite knowledgable of Hubbert's concept of oil peaking. The price of crude continues to climb and climb as the news hits the financial markets. Massive power failures follow, along with much madness. 

Late in the book one of the charachters, Karen, finds herself thinking through how the dramatic spike in oil prices has changed the world. Coupland describes it as "a new world that exists within a state of permanent power failure. A perpetual Lagos, a never-ending Darfur." This is a striking thought, though not the most unexpected or odd twist in the book. 

won’t spoil what becomes of things in the wake of this doomsday-like crash in
the global petroleum market. I’ll just say that it doesn’t strike me as too
unrealistic. All in all, the book is a quick read and a good merger of
potentially realistic events and fiction.