Hemrill by John J Ernest

John struggled to choose which story idea to use for the Last Horizon before finally settling on Charli (many readers’ favourite). Hemrill was his other idea that, in the manner of many natural storytellers before him, he decided to write anyway. It can be found here at John’s website: https://jjernest.com/2022/09/16/hemrill/ and is an excellent short read. In this fantasy story, magic can be considered a metaphor for climate change, and the setting the magical equivalent of a COP summit.

Fantasy and sci-fi have a potential that is largely unique in story-telling. These genres (that I use broadly without any strict definition) can offer new perspectives on reality in a manner that is established and familiar for readers. John uses just such a device in Hemrill, exploring the difficult concept of deep(er) time though the medium of fantasy races who are naturally long-lived. Any reader of fantasy will be familiar of Tolkienesque tropes of elves who live lifetimes equivalent to many generations of mortal humans. If only we had such folk with living memory of the last centuries who could attest to the way things – including the climate – have changed.

Modern technology is not dissimilar from magic from a certain point of view. We use the tools that are available to us in our everyday lives, seldom questioning how waste is handled or where energy is coming from. Hemrill allows a moment to think about this in a parallel context: maybe we should consider using less magic, or at least ensuring that it is renewable!