Against the background of last month’s Copenhagen Climate Change Conference, I’m reminded of a political-diplomatic-disaster thriller our couples’ book group just read. The plot of Ultimatum by Matthew Glass is set in the year 2032 but, for me, its elements seem much, much closer in time.
A fictional progressive young president has just taken office and learns that his predecessor has been secretly negotiating with the Chinese on environmental issues. He is also advised that the global warning situation is much worst than has been made public. Relocation plans have already been drawn for southern Florida and other parts of the U.S.
As U.S. president #48 works to form a cabinet, a crisis mode permeates his work days and his decision-making. Some in his administration continue to have confidence in the “Kyoto process,” i.e., multinational meetings and agreements that no nation adheres to. Others advise more aggressive negotiations with the world’s other big polluter – namely China.
Mr. Glass describes the intricate political conflicts and maneuvers on the part of the key players. He describes the legacy of thirty years of non-action that ultimately leads to disaster (read surprise ending).
Ultimatum’s plot is fresh and arresting. But members of the book club agreed that the book is not particularly well written (it’s the author’s first novel) and that the characters are not well drawn. It’s the subject matter that keeps the reader’s attention. You are also left thinking about geo-politics long after the last page is turned.
Matthew Glass is an enigma – this is a pseudonym and little is know about him except for the fact that he lives in Great Britain.