The Forcing by Paul E Hardisty

The Forcing by Paul E Hardisty

“The Forcing” is my first review for Orenda Books; thanks to Karen Sullivan and Anne Cater for the opportunity. I’m a huge fan of post-apocalyptic fiction such as “The Stand” and “Swan Song” so I was especially excited for the chance to review this book.

The author, Canadian Paul Hardisty, has spent 25 years working as an environmental scientist and freelance journalist. One of the novels in his Claymore Straker series, The Abrupt Physics of Dying, was shortlisted for the CWA John Creasey (New Blood) Dagger and a Telegraph Book of the Year.

Paul Hardisty

“I can see it now, and it still makes me shiver.”

This quote begins a chapter called “The Destruction of Order” and I immediately understood the narrator’s fears. The apocalyptic novels I’ve read typically have a supernatural element to them. “The Forcing” is chilling because of its plausibility. If today’s events were taken to their extreme in the future, the world created in this book could come to pass. The author deftly uses his environmental science background to give the book its realistic tone. And it made me shiver as well.

The precipitating events of the novel are catastrophic climate change and global warfare, resulting in a government takover by young people and a policy of relocating Canadian citizens over a cutoff age to the now abandoned southern deserts of the U.S. We follow the lives of the narrator, “Teach”, his estranged wife May, Argent, an arrogant billionaire with cryptic plans, and the other “Responsibles” (as they are called by the new leaders). The more Teach learns about his new home and what is taking place there, the more frightened he becomes. Food and water are strictly rationed, assigned jobs are arduous and dangerous, and movement is restricted. Teach soon finds out how transgressors are punished.

The book moves between Teach in his present life and the record of what happened to him and the other Responsibles after re-location. It’s suspenseful, infuriating, frightening and deeply sad. Teach and the others do escape the town they’re in, only to face numerous obstacles and implacable enemies on their way to…what exactly? The only person who seems to have a plan and a destination is Argent, and he is not sharing. No one really knows the state of rest of the world, since all forms of news and other communications have long ceased. Teach must use his instincts and knowledge in order to survive in a world that is alien to him and everyone with him. As Teach writes later:

“For it is no exaggeration to say that I have crawled to the very edge of the
abyss and gazed down into the depths of Hell. I do not offer this lightly. I am
a scientist, a teacher.”

I found The Forcing to be quite a moving book; Teach tries not to lose his humanity and compassion but there are times when saving lives depend on him becoming ruthless and cruel. Is there any hope for the future in The Forcing? Maybe. A little.

“I am here, now. Somehow, I have survived the transit of time and distance and
the loss of the old world. Amazement is too subtle a word.”

Please share!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *