A brief introduction to Sea Changes
I began writing Sea Changes around 2009, after I got fed up waiting for some famous writer to do it. It seemed to me (and still seems) extraordinary that there was such limited artistic interest in the phenomenon of mass migration into the countries of the West, even though obviously it had revolutionary implications for those countries’ characters and futures. Whenever novelists did venture into this area, more often than not it would be in the form of a sentimental paean to real or claimed benefits, with opposing voices present only as caricature - ignoramuses, phobics, racists, rednecks. These simplistic, sugary treatments seemed to require some kind of aesthetic as well as critical response.
I felt that I (like all Westerners) was being lectured to, almost being bullied into thinking a certain way on this most existential of issues, and besides took a gloomy pleasure in inspecting some of the ideas we were expected to accept as some kind of post-Christian gospel. Quite apart from these considerations, mass migration was a fascinating subject in its own right, offering deep psychological as well as high political drama, and displaying human nature at its finest and worst (and most confused).
The only well-known Western litterateur to have responded at all sceptically to the phenomenon was Jean Raspail, whose Camp of the Saints I devoured when I came across it in my early twenties. On re-reading it twenty or so years later, while struck again by its Gallic flair and fizzing farsightedness, I found his plot now too lurid, and began to wonder if I could do something more realistic, this time set in the UK, and showing both would-be incomers and ‘way of life’ defenders as understandable human beings caught up in situations beyond their control.
Literary agents and large firms, perhaps inevitably, were uninterested, and I collected a small boxful of “Dear Sir/Madam” brush-offs, so it was a relief when a gallant small firm published it in 2012. Major journals, again perhaps inevitably, ignored the book but gratifyingly it became a small succès d’estime without their assistance (although I am still slightly annoyed it did not get a single UK write-up).
Since publication, the picture has altered in certain details. Syria and Libya, then apparently relatively stable, have descended into anarchy and become net exporters of unfortunates. The grossly irresponsible actions of Mrs. Merkel and others have been met by increasingly well-organised populist reaction, and the whole future of the European Union has been thrown into doubt by Brexit. But notwithstanding such differences in detail, in essence the picture has not altered - chaos in the Middle East, apparently un-staunchable flows of humanity from global South and East, incompetent (at best) mainstream politicians, cultural churn, moral panics, public angst, fear and loathing… Sea Changes can still, I believe, speak to these things, and sadly is likely to remain relevant for some time to come. I am therefore delighted that Connor Post has agreed to publish regular extracts, starting with this grisly landfall.
All that sighing and significant night, the North Sea had been laying a terrible cargo tenderly along the tide-line. As the stabbing sun raised itself above the rim of the ocean, the revealed brilliant bigness of sand was studded with defeated shapes. But no one was there to notice.
A brown-skinned man lay where the water had reluctantly relinquished him at last, with his face pressed into the fine yellow sand, his inky hair drooping with dampness, his limbs sprawled awkwardly.
A bark-dark teenager lay nearby, his eyes bulging at all that un-enjoyed beauty, his refined features petrified in panic, mouth agape as if his life had been in such a hurry to leave that it had forgotten to close the door.
A few feet away sprawled an older man, who looked a bit like the boy, similarly staring straight at the sun without it hurting his eyes, his blue jacket inundated indigo, swollen ankles trying to burst cheap running shoes, a white skull-cap on his head and his thick and curly beard clasping moonstones of moisture.
A young black woman was disposed elegantly fifty feet along - her beauty belied by an equally uncomprehending expression, and a streak of blood that had leached from her nose and was now starting to attract tiny flies. She lay on her left side with one arm aimed appropriately inland, her hands curled in a grab for ground found too late.
The four lay unheeded in the gathering dawn, strewn with many others along miles of strand - lead-heavy leavings which just a few hours before had contained memories and machinations, cynicism and systems, hoards and heirlooms. Pitiable personalia had washed up, too, tangled up with the shells and starfish - suitcases, a comb, toys, a tiny plastic shrine to Vishnu with a blown electrical fitting.
One corpse - until recently almost the only possession of a powerful black man - drifted into a tidal creek and became wedged under an overhanging clump of sea-lavender. Larks nesting among the purple flowers rose and voiced concern, but reassured by its stillness soon returned to feed their avid young despite the glazed gaze from just under the surface.
They would not need to endure those ghastly eyes long, because even before the tide had stopped tumbling the dead man, blennies were nuzzling his face and a crab had stalked inside his slowly rippling shirt. Before 20 more tides, the corpse would be flayed by lips and claws, and magnified by methane - destined to explode slowly and silently in a silver stream of foul bubbles, a blue-brown bundle of bones, hair and flakes of skin rocking with the water, incorporated more each second, purified putrefaction, fibres of food dancing and recombining in cold and dirty eternity.
The sun traversed blithely above these horrors, and all the others which had been waltzed away to be cast up on opposing coasts or drift until devoured. At 5.30 - around the time a trawler skipper from Zeebrugge was staring at what had come up in the first nets of the day - a man came over the high dunes with his dog, as he did at this time every day. But today his and everyone’s plans would be altered.
Next Tuesday - Chapter 2
Copies of Sea Changes are available from Amazon (a few copies of the first edition still available)
…........................................................................................- Derek Turner has appeared in a number of top-notch news outlets, including Taki's, Chronicles and the Times.
Follow him on Twitter: Follow @DerekTurner1964 or e-mail to: email@example.com
Some recent articles from Derek Turner:Taking back the city
FALSE FLAGS, AND TANGLED GROWTHS
FLIGHTS OF FANCY