The Deluge (Paperback)
January 2023 Indie Next List
“Be prepared to get hooked on page one! Markley brings climate change, virtual reality, artificial intelligence, and our democracy’s future to the fore. Anyone that loved Stephen King’s The Stand, get ready to be blown away by this epic.”
— Jan Danielson Kaiser, Beaverdale Books, Des Moines, IA
About six months ago, I read an advanced copy of Stephen Markley’s epic new novel, The Deluge, which was released earlier this month. Since then, I have been so hung up on it that I haven’t been able to have a satisfying experience with another book. It’s no exaggeration to say that I think about The Deluge every single day.
This ambitious, 900-page work spans the next thirty years on Earth, as climate change disasters bludgeon the earth with increasing severity while the political and social fabrics of humanity begin to crumble. After building a foundation in current events, mostly in the United States, with all our climate change inaction, political insecurity and societal challenges, Markley drags us through an unceasing barrage of increasingly terrifying and poignant catastrophes. As calamity unfolds, it feels like we’ve been crammed inside a barrel and thrown down a river. With a roaring in our ears, the narrative tumbles faster and faster, occasionally seeming to lose focus only to find its footing again on a new disaster. There are moments of hope, too, but Markley offers them sparingly at best.
What makes this book so powerful is the way Markley can pinpoint a social issue facing modern society and extrapolate the consequences of that issue into future decades. He does this so comprehensively, with so many facets of our society, that by the time I finished, I struggled to separate it from reality.
I didn’t love everything in this novel by any means, and it certainly isn’t for everyone. The many individual characters are secondary to the plot, and while their motives are believable, they are almost universally unlikable in some way. But, I can’t help but think that this underdevelopment was intentional, keeping the focus away from individual interests and on the catastrophe facing society as a whole.
This book changed me, and I don’t think I’ll ever forget it. I strongly recommend The Deluge, but approach it with caution. It will consume you, rattle you around and leave you haunted. It will settle into your mind, reappearing intensely as you go through your day.
“This book is, simply put, a modern classic. If you read it, you'll never forget it. Prophetic, terrifying, uplifting.” —Stephen King
From the bestselling author of Ohio, a masterful American epic charting a near future approaching collapse and a nascent but strengthening solidarity.
In the first decades of the 21st century, the world is convulsing, its governments mired in gridlock while a patient but unrelenting ecological crisis looms. America is in upheaval, battered by violent weather and extreme politics. In California in 2013, Tony Pietrus, a scientist studying deposits of undersea methane, receives a death threat. His fate will become bound to a stunning cast of characters—a broken drug addict, a star advertising strategist, a neurodivergent mathematician, a cunning eco-terrorist, an actor turned religious zealot, and a brazen young activist named Kate Morris, who, in the mountains of Wyoming, begins a project that will alter the course of the decades to come.
From the Gulf Coast to Los Angeles, the Midwest to Washington, DC, their intertwined odysseys unfold against a stark backdrop of accelerating chaos as they summon courage, galvanize a nation, fall to their own fear, and find wild hope in the face of staggering odds. As their stories hurtle toward a spectacular climax, each faces a reckoning: what will they sacrifice to salvage humanity’s last chance at a future? A singular achievement, The Deluge is a once-in-a-generation novel that meets the moment as few works of art ever have.
"Immersive and ambitious, [The Deluge] shows the range of its author’s gifts: polyphonic narration, silken sentences and elaborate world-building.”—New York Times Book Review
"An astonishing feat of procedural imagination, narrative construction and scientific acumen."—Los Angeles Times
"A clear-eyed, climate-justice-minded page-turner. . . . Stephen Markley’s new novel is part thriller, part horror, part all-too-real. It’s scary, instructive and also entertaining."—Washington Post
"This book is destined to be a classic and needs to be read by anyone who can get their hands on it.... THE DELUGE is ultimately a feel-good work that will leave readers reeling from the amount of information that has been dissected and shared." —Book Reporter
“Markley’s dark depiction of the near future is filled with vivid descriptions of climate catastrophes, but his intricate network of complex characters balances precision with pathos, offering a kaleidoscopic view of humanity’s fraught relationship with its changing planet.”—Scientific American
"This is a stunning achievement that may earn a place among dystopian and apocalyptic classics like 1984 and On the Beach. And perhaps most of all, it’s an unflinching and utterly compelling call to action to prevent an all-too-possible future."—Library Journal (starred review)
“In this brilliant dystopian epic... [Markley's] nuanced characterizations of individuals with different approaches to the existential threat make the perils they encounter feel real as they navigate cover-ups and lies. It’s a disturbing tour de force.”—Publishers Weekly (starred review)
"An ambitious rendering of a forbidding future and the public and private challenges that will define it."—Kirkus
“[A]mbitious, sprawling… a demanding but worthwhile read.”—Booklist
"What makes you not want to put it down, is you care about the people in the book" —Seth Meyers
“A ferocious, spectacular achievement. A masterful beast of intellect and heart.?Markley should take his place as a visionary of our time.” —Merritt Tierce, author of Love Me Back
“A major achievement, bountifully imagined. Unquestionably one of the best novels to grapple with the climate crisis. I am haunted by it.”— Kevin Brockmeier, author of The Brief History of the Dead
“A stunning and comprehensive view of a future that is both impressively imagined and terrifyingly imminent.”—Fatima Farheen Mirza, author of A Place For Us
“Engrossing and timely. A towering achievement in style and substance that is at once timeless and impossibly urgent.”—Ben Philippe, author of Charming as a Verb
“The Deluge is not just an impressively well-thought-out and all-too-realistic catalog of the ways in which the climate crisis might mutate into something much worse; it's also a page-turner packed with no shortage of thrills or heart.”—Sean Adams, author of The Heap
“A masterclass of climate fiction. This barnstormer of a book is a must-read.”—Nana Nkweti, author of Walking on Cowrie Shells
“A seminal novel and a singular achievement. The Deluge is sure to take a place alongside such great environmental books as The Overstory, The Shell Collector, Barkskins, Flight Behavior and so many others.”—Bill Cusumano, Square Books, Oxford, Mississippi
“An epic work of great ambition, Stephen Markley’s The Deluge is unyielding; it marvels and it mortifies. Few books in a lifetime will make you feel as this one must and while full of every kind of blooming horror, Markley’s magnum opus is as engulfing as it is earnest.”—Jeremy Garber, Powells, Portland Oregon
“A terrifyingly imagined future, made all the more believable by the real characters in the not so distant past and present. An important book.”—Bobbi Irving, Penguin Bookshop in Sewickley, Pennsylvania
“One of those rare novels that manages to be deeply informative and a page-turner at the same time, The Deluge takes us on an intrigue-laden journey into a possible future that is truthful with regard to both the urgency and agency that exists today in addressing the climate crisis.”—Michael Mann, Presidential Distinguished Professor, University of Pennsylvania and author of “The New Climate War”