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Merle Hanson presents his collection 'Portraits' and Lorin Robinson presents his work of speculative fiction 'The Warming'

A word from Merle:

“I like to go on vacation. Leave the world I'm in and find a different place. Vacate all the things I felt, believed and thought. It is hard to shut off the brain. We spend most of our day thinking, often too busy to ever think about what we saw and heard that wasn't in front of us. Life keeps rolling and pretty soon we are getting ready to die never having lived. There are many windows upon life, and in Winona town those many panes were always respected, with an almost quiet reverence. There was no sense stirring up the spirits. Most thought death was supposed to be quiet and peaceful. Those folks sometimes get a bit disappointed when they get forgotten and that we can't see them. They can tell that sometimes you can feel them, something in the way the air and light moved. In many ways this is their story. “

In this collection of stories, essays, opinions, and musings, storyteller Merle Hanson draws the reader into the collective consciousness of southeastern Minnesota. From the civil war veteran to the giant of industry to the contemplative priest, Hanson uses multiple perspectives to paint an even larger Portrait, if you will. Peppered among these are his musings and opinions of the news of the day, giving the reader an intimate view of the author.

Merle Hanson is a native of Southeastern Minnesota has been writing short fiction and essays for years, many of them published regionally.  He current resides in Winona, MN.


The Warming

How will the developing climate crisis affect us? The Warming goes beyond mere statistics and arguments over the cause to imagine its impact on people worldwide.

 It’s 2047.

  Hundreds of millions around the world are suffering from the warming—drought, rising ocean levels and increasingly calamitous weather. Famine and food riots are becoming commonplace. Refugees from inundated coastal and drought-stricken areas are on the move. National economies are tanking. Weaker nations are being swallowed up by stronger neighbors. Within countries, the warming encourages genocide and ethnic cleansing. Nations are turning inward, looking after their own. The United Nations has become a mere shell as members simply stop paying their dues. 

Dr. Jonathan Carver is a brilliant marine scientist—both an observer and participant in the growing crisis.  Despite major roadblocks, he works to develop a project  that, while it cannot stop the warming, would help address the growing hunger and famine.  Meanwhile, he struggles to bring his dysfunctional personal and professional lives under control. Readers are taken around the world to experience the human impact of the warming close up. The book is a thought-provoking and artful amalgam of fact and fiction that puts a human face on the growing crisis. Whatever the cause or causes—the Earth is heating up, the oceans are rising, and the changing climate is bringing more severe weather. We’re in for a rough ride. 

This 358-page novel is a work of speculative fiction. It begins with today’s climate science and imagines the potential impact on people around the globe that its observations and data suggest. The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) Fifth Assessment Report (2013) confirmed once again that global warming is proceeding rapidly. The report’s sense of urgency was in direct contrast to the more conservative tone of its 2007 report. The draft of a new major UN report (2014) warns that runaway growth of greenhouse gas emissions is swamping all political efforts to deal with the problem and raises the risk of “severe, pervasive and irreversible impacts” over the coming decades. The report claims that global warming has already cut grain production by several percentage points. According to the report, higher seas, devastating heat waves and other climate extremes are the result of human-produced emissions. The world may be nearing a temperature at which the loss of the vast ice sheet covering Greenland would become inevitable, and, with the continued melting of Antarctic ice, flood the world’s major coastal cities.

 In October, 2014, Pentagon finally weighed in on the climate crisis. It released a major report asserting decisively that the warming poses an immediate threat to national security, with increased risks from terrorism, infectious disease, global poverty and food shortages. It also predicted rising demand for military disaster responses as extreme weather creates more global humanitarian crises.The Defense Department says it has begun integrating plans for climate change risks across all of its operations, from war games and strategic military planning situations to a rethinking of the movement of supplies. While an ever smaller circle of people continues to reject the reality of human-induced global warming and its implications, there is no question—whatever the cause or causes—that the Earth is heating up, the oceans are rising and the changing climate is bringing more severe, tumultuous and unpredictable weather.

 The main narrative of the novel is placed at mid-century and I have adopted worst-case or near worst-case predictions as the basis for the book. I reject the euphemism “climate change,” preferring the less palatable but more accurate “global warming.” The title of the book is based on the fact that, over time, language simplifies. I believe the climatic crisis we face will become known as “the warming.” The future portrayed in this book—except in broad strokes—will probably not resemble reality as the century unfolds. There are simply too many variables. Instead, I consider it a “thought exercise.” The turmoil and apocalyptic events I describe may be the result of a fevered imagination. But, no matter how fanciful my depiction of future events, be assured we will face chaos, calamity and the need to survive cataclysmic change. I hope my imagination is too fevered. But I doubt it.

Lorin Robinson’s career has been split primarily between university teaching/administration and business. He chaired the Journalism Department at the University of Wisconsin— River Falls for 10 years after founding and managing the school’s public radio station. He then joined 3M Company as a marketing communications manager. After 24 years at 3M, he returned to teaching—in the Graduate College of Business, University of St. Thomas.Robinson has BS and MS Degrees in Journalism from Northwestern University and a PhD in Communication from the University of Minnesota. Over the years, Robinson has also worked as a professional journalist, photojournalist and freelance magazine writer. He is currently a contributing writer to Shutterbug Magazine, a publication geared for professional and dedicated amateur photographers. Like his main character, Robinson is a diver and lapsed private pilot. Unlike Jon Carver, he has virtually no formal training in science except gentleman’s “Cs” in high school chemistry and physics. This is his first effort at writing fiction—unless one includes advertising and public relations copy.

He and Linda, his wife and editor, split their time between Lake Elmo, MN; Taos, NM and Baja California Sur.

Later Event: July 23
Noir at the Bar

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