The Last Gasp by Trevor Hoyle book review

Climate change goes under the microscope in The Last Gasp

The Last Gasp Trevor Hoyle

Climate thrillers, let alone good ones, are few and far between, which is perplexing when we consider how much the debate of climate change has permeated every level of politics and society over the last several decades.

That’s why The Last Gasp is a minor revelation. A group of scientists discover that Earth will run out of breathable air, due to human pollution.

Originally published in 1983, Hoyle’s speculative sci-fi epic was regarded by many at the time as a rather outlandish and overtly cynical account of a man-made apocalypse.

Reading it today reveals how eerily prescient Hoyle turned out to be. Even if some of the science won’t necessarily turn out to be true, his depiction of apathetic, self-serving and outright dangerous governments is scarily on-point. We see a world caught in a new arms race, one where the last bit of breathable air is the ultimate prize.

The latest, revised edition’s starting point is 2016 instead of 1990, and events of the last 30 years have been incorporated into the story. This includes extensive research and several new chapters, even though the novel’s main message is the same – and it is laid on thick.

This applies equally to the tone – frequently veering toward lecturing the reader – and the novel’s excessive length. This undermines the narrative, especially as the setup and conclusion achieve a frenetic, levels of pure cinematic pace. If it wasn’t for the overly indulgent 550 pages in between, this latest edition of The Last Gasp would be near-unmissable.