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Drowning Towers/Sea and Summer

Written By:George Turner - 1987

  • Drowning Towers/Sea and Summer - George Turner cover


Drowning Towers is a bildungsroman, the story of a young boy growing up in a future city that is overpopulated, automated to the point where only the privileged have jobs and decent housing, and being progressively flooded by the rising waters of the world's oceans—a process that brings chaotic weather and worldwide food shortages. This is the gripping, intense, sometimes violent story of life in the face of a long, slow disaster.


Winner of the Arthur C. Clarke Award

Drowning Towers has just won the prestigous Arthur C. Clarke Award for the best science fiction novel published in the U.K. in 1987, an award endowed by Clarke only two years ago and now the most important SF prize in England. It may be the SF book of the decade!

The novel of the future is becoming a powerful form in the hands of serious writers. Such a book was Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale, last year's Arthur C. Clarke winner. Drowing Towers is a masterful novel of character and of SF extrapolation in direct descent from Huxley's Brave New World. Turner's achievement is now of historic magnitude.

"It's the best didactic novel I've read since The Dispossessed. Turner has managed the difficult and rare accomplishment of creating a world of characters who are both convincing in their alien futurity and affecting in their commonality with us. This future Australia is worked out in gritty completeness, in the details of both its physical squalor and the social structures that have evolved in trying to cope with economic and ecological disaster." —Joe Haldeman

"Turner has achieved the extraordinary feat of involving his readers in the dilemma of an entire society undergoing social and ecological collapse, through intertwined narratives about people we care about—every one of them, even when they are one another's enemies. No disaster novel yet written can hold a candle to this, in grace of writing, depth of characterization, breadth of vision, and sheer drama and suspense. Turner's broad knowledge, his human feeling, and his imposing skill as a storyteller make Drowning Towers unequaled in contemporary cautionary fiction literature. —Paul Preuss

"For decades George Turner has been a leading Australian writer. But though Australia is a very good country indeed, Turner is too good for it: He belongs to the world. So, alas, do the drowning towers of this, his most powerful novel. Since reading it, I have found myself using Sweet and Swill in casual conversation, as though they were terms anyone might be expected to understand. Quite frequently, everyone does." —Gene Wolfe

"Drowning Towers is a book of courage. It took courage to write, it concerns human courage amidst degrading, inhuman conditions, and it warns powerfully of our own failure of courage to plan wisely for the future. I think this will be the ranking Australian SF novel for some years to come. It is compellingly written." —Ian Watson