Combining a haunting view of the future caused by global warming with detailed maps that depict a massive transformation of California, Dale Pendell’s unique and provocative fictitious account provides a powerful view of a not-so-improbable future in which sea levels rise and a decimated population must find new ways to live.
Based in scientific reality, The Great Bay presents a powerful fictional vision of a fast-approaching future in which sea levels rise and a decimated population must find new ways to live. The story begins in 2021 with a worldwide pandemic followed by the gradual rising of the seas. Pendell’s vision is all encompassing–he describes the rising seas’ impact on countries and continents around the world. But his imaginative storytelling focuses on California. A “great bay” forms in California’s Central Valley and expands during a 16,000-year period. As the years pass, and technology seems to regress, even memory of a “precollapse” world blends into myth. Grizzly bears and other large predators return to the California hills, and civilization reverts to a richly imagined medieval society marked by guilds and pilgrimages, followed even later by hunting and gathering societies. Pendell’s focus is on the lives of people struggling with love, wars, and physical survival thousands of years in California’s future. He deftly mixes poetic imagery, news-reporting-style writing, interviews with survivors, and maps documenting the geographic changes. In the end, powerful human values that have been with us for 40,000 years begin to reemerge and remind us that they are desperately needed–in the present.