By: Jochanan Stenesh
Publisher: Merriam Press
Publication Date: May 2016
Reviewed by: Anita Lock
Date: October 2016
Stenesh offers a warning of future world events in his debut read.
The year 2020 sees the beginnings of an ominous wave of worldwide cataclysmic events, initiated by Iran's first nuclear test and establishment of full control over the southern section of the Tigris/Euphrates Delta (TE-Delta). A new cold war appears to be on the rise in Russia and piracy on the Indian Ocean is at an all time high. The termination of the Israel-Palestinian conflict spells bad times ahead for Palestinians. ISIS is stronger than ever operating out of four large land bases. China overtakes the once-independent SAR (Special Administrative Region) Macau in 2024, Hong Kong five years later, and then in 2035 launches a full-scale invasion of Taiwan.
Protesting in Tahrir Square goes awry in 2027 when the Muslim Brotherhood attempts to call all like-minded Egyptians to join them in their non-dictatorial "let us work together" campaign. Two years later, extremist groups unite to attack Jews throughout Europe. In 2031 war breaks out between North and South Korea. Meanwhile in the United States, Religious Right groups' precedence creates a chain of shocking circumstances, such as the tearing of the wall of separation between church and state, creationism on par with evolution in high school science classes, and the banning of abortions. And to round out this unnerving glimpse into a twenty-year period, the effects of global warming create cataclysmic worldwide disasters including a shortage of drinking water.
Stenesh's newsworthy digest of "what might happen in the world in the next two decades" is reminiscent of Wells' War of the Worlds and Orwell's 1984. Like the aforementioned notable titles, Stenesh presents a near believable narrative. Contrary to Wells' and Orwell's writing style, Stenesh has replaced the typical science fiction plot with a compilation of twenty-one newspaper dispatches. Stenesh opens with a section addressed "To Our Readers," which explains the origins of the selection of popular articles penned by three fabricated veteran bureau chiefs from the equally fabricated World View series of The Daily Independent Courier. Now morphed into book form and bearing the same moniker as the title of Stenesh's book, the collection covers imagined "flash points and controversial issues around the globe."
Beginning with Jordan, Stenesh's essay-narratives highlight situations that take place in Dubai, Ukraine, Somalia, Africa (Nigeria, Morocco, Egypt), Israel, China (Macau, Hong Kong), Taiwan, Europe (Belgium, Germany), South Korea, United States (D.C., New York, California, Texas), India, and Sri Lanka. Readers with interest in world events should be able to identify a good handful of troubled war-torn places on the list. That said, Stenesh creates a realistic narrative pulling from past and present tensions/issues to build his imaginary predictions. Stenesh aptly bridges the gap from reality to fiction by incorporating meticulous historical details, thus brilliantly portraying quite a dystopian read. Stenesh's frightening calculations are not that far-fetched, even though there will be readers who no doubt disagree with his perspective. Regardless, A World at Risk is not only a great science fiction read, but also includes plenty of information for Stenesh's audience to ruminate on long after the book is done.
Quill says: A World at Risk is a perfect read for conspiracy theory aficionados, as well as those who have a fetish for world predictions.