The Swerve

Forthcoming in the July, 2022 issue of Locus Magazine.

Cory Doctorow
6 min readMay 16, 2022

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A broken bridge over a mysterious chasm.

We’re all trapped on a bus.

The bus is barreling towards a cliff.

Beyond the cliff is a canyon plunge any of us will be lucky to survive.

Even if we survive, none of us know how we’ll climb out of that deep canyon.

Some of us want to yank the wheel.

The bus is going so fast that yanking the wheel could cause the bus to roll.

There might be some broken bones.

There might be worse than broken bones.

The driver won’t yank the wheel.

The people in expensive front row seats agree.

“Yank the wheel? Are you crazy? Someone could break a leg!”

We say, “But there’s a cliff! We’re going to go over the cliff! We’re going to die!”

“Nonsense,” they say. “Long before we go over the cliff, we’ll have figured out how to put wings on this bus.”

We argue.

They add, “Besides, who’s to say we’ll fall off the cliff? Maybe we’ll be going so fast that we leap the canyon. Fonzie did it! Calm down. Hey! Keep your hands off the wheel? What are you, a terrorist? Don’t you dare do that again. Someone could get really badly hurt.”

The climate emergency is real and we are living through it. As I write this, I’ve emailed some writer friends in the southwest to ask if the fires threaten them or their homes. One hasn’t answered yet. The other wrote back to say they’re fine, but what about the wildfires near my house?

Oh, I wrote. We’re fine. So far. California is in for a hell of a wildfire season. It’s dry out there. It’s an emergency. Officially.

(It was an emergency before, but that was unofficial)

We’re not acting like it’s an emergency. In mid-May, The Guardian reported a bombshell: a series of planned “carbon bombs” — large-scale oil and gas projects that will “shatter the 1.5C climate goal.” The war in Ukraine has the world scrambling for winter heat — for sources of oil and gas, that is, not renewable alternatives.

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