Decisions, Decisions. . .

It’s been four years. That’s when I first put the proverbial pen to paper on a book that I have called from the very beginning, SubAqua. The first thing I did at that time back in June of 2014 was to write an extensive outline for where I wanted this story to go. The next file I created was a map of a still unnamed city where all this action would take place. This was also about the time I started hearing about NaNoWriMo. I didn’t know what a NaNoWriMo was, but my writing and critique group did.

I had been writing for a couple of years by this point, and I had a completed manuscript for a middle-grade historical fiction novel called Jacob the Armorer. Let me say this about that—if you think you’re a pretty good writer, go back and read that masterpiece after it’s been in the back of the fridge for a couple of years. My poor critique group friends had to read that thing. But I digress. They were all about this NaNoWriMo thing, and encouraged me to join in. I sort of did, and it was fun.

SubAqua was the manuscript I chose to write for National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), with a goal of writing 50,000 words during November, which should result in an SFD (Let’s just call it a “Sloppy” First Draft). I had an extensive outline, and though I didn’t officially register for NaNoWriMo, I believe I finished that month in the neighborhood of 62,000 words. My critiquers have done full reviews and edits, I’ve had beta readers, I’ve revised it myself continuously for four years, and I’ve submitted the work to forty or so agents.

So renaming my novel Undercurrent is a difficult choice to make. This is like renaming one of your kids after a few years. “Well Bobby, you’ve had a good run. But, we’re going to call you Edgar now.” This change has been coming though. I’ve long realized that SubAqua was not the greatest title, but I couldn’t come up with a better one. Sometimes, when you get to the end, you look back at what you’ve created and a title will jump out. I mean, after all, I didn’t know how this book was going to end when I was writing it. I love surprise endings, you know. So it wasn’t until I made that other decision—to stop submitting to agents and self-publish—that the decision became more real.

When I started working on that real concept for a real book cover, that’s when things got weird. I was thinking “Undercurrent.” Hmmm, that could work. But I hated how the title looked on the cover. It’s a long word, and it just looked awkward. But in the end, I think it is “Matura MT Script Capitals” that has given me the appearance I was looking for. I think it’s set. New title is Undercurrent.

Now, if only I can find a good graphic artist who can bring my Undercurrent symbol (a dolphin jumping through an inverted Omega) to life, I’ll be able to get my concept cover together. Incidentally, in engineering, the Omega is used to represent “Ohms” or (electrical) resistance, and since the Undercurrent group represents a kind of resistance, I thought, why not?

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Our World is About to Change

By Benjamin Maxwell

BOSTON – August 12, 2125: Scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Oceanographic Research (MIOR) held a press conference this morning at their Juniper Point headquarters to reveal the unsettling findings of their continued research into rising sea levels as a result of global warming. The main point of the conference was to dispel the consensus of the past one hundred-plus years that the expected rise in sea levels had been exaggerated, as detailed in research from the Hamburg Meteorological Institute (HMI) as far back as 2014.

“Those results from Marochke (of HMI) have been disputed for years, but there has never been any definitive proof one way or the other,” said Paul Stevenson, director of the MIOR. “I am afraid we have very recently confirmed factors that indicate a catastrophic effect on a huge portion of the world’s coastal areas.”

MIOR has released the 320-page document, according to Stevenson, to spur development of solutions to the expected displacement of billions of the world’s residents who live in coastal areas.

“We once expected a rise (in sea levels) of no more than twenty or thirty feet in a worst-case scenario,” said Stevenson. “Our conservative estimates are looking at a rise of at least one hundred and fifty feet. We estimate that in the United States alone, we will lose, on average, around a hundred miles of our coast.”

A search of the document revealed a map of the east coast after a sea level increase of one hundred and fifty feet. Much of New England, including Boston, is expected to be underwater by 2140. Most major coastal cities will also be devastated, according to the document. New York, Philadelphia, Trenton, Baltimore, Washington D.C., Richmond, Charlotte, Charleston will all be lost.

On the west coast, the picture is not much brighter, as Seattle, Portland, San Francisco, and Los Angeles will also be submerged.

“We are talking about the displacement and relocation of a quarter of a billion people,” said President Nichols. “The American people will pull together and find a way to get through these tragic events.”

Marilee Jameson, U.S. Department of Housing Development, commented that America is facing an almost impossible task of building massive cities from the ground up, in a matter of about fifteen years.

“I’m not saying it’s impossible. But it will be one of the biggest challenges our country has ever faced,” said Jameson.

But not everyone believes relocating people inland in the best solution. Mohammad Almasi of the Dubai Maritime Institute, United Arab Emirates, notes, “There have been such advances in acrylic technologies over the past seventy-five years, that we believe it may be possible to cover an entire city.”

There are countless critics of this idea, but Almasi says that they are perfecting a technological process that will enable them to build a solid acrylic wall in place in a nearly continuous construct. His scientists have successfully created a dome one hundred meters in diameter and twenty meters tall.

“But this is just a proof of concept,” Almasi said. “It’s one thing to build a dome on land in the middle of a desert, but quite another to have a dome that can withstand the pressure of being underwater.”

Still, Almasi remains confident that it can be done.

The feasibility of such endeavors remains to be seen. Building dozens of cities capable of housing a quarter of a billion people in the next fifteen years doesn’t seem much more realistic to some. In either case, the clock is ticking, and we are going to need a bold plan to avoid disaster.

Ben Maxwell is a staff writer for the Boston Chronicle. His stories focus largely on environmental issues and health matters. You can follow him online at our web site.