Predicting the future – events, developments, discoveries – is not the main aim of writing speculative fiction. All fiction is made up, so when you make up a story set a few years into the future you inevitably throw in a few guesses about such things. Most of them, nearly all of them in fact, turn out to be wrong. But every now and then, by accident, by following a hunch, by a stroke of luck, we get things right.

Fugue for a Darkening Island VGFugue, GollanczBy exactly that sort of good or bad luck, I now witness an upheaval of historical proportions taking place across Europe. Some forty-five years ago my second novel, Fugue for a Darkening Island, dealt metaphorically (as I saw it) with such an upheaval. Things were bad in the novel – I believe them to be just as horrific in reality. More so, in fact. I make no claim for the novel, but the Gollancz paperback edition of 2011 has a new Introduction that attempts to set the context.

On a matter of much less importance:

The Met Office in the UK has decided that from this winter all storms arriving in Britain and Ireland will be given names, in the same way as cyclones in the Pacific and hurricanes in the Atlantic are named. They are soliciting suggestions from the public for a naming system in alphabetical order. I modestly suggest that the search could be a short one as I have already created a unique naming system. I think the weather people should adopt it straight away.

In my novel The Adjacent (which came out in 2013) I described a series of violent weather systems, partly a result of climate change, called temperate storms. The book is set some time after the season has begun, so the earliest named in the book is TS Danielle Darrieux. Mme. Darrieux is followed by Edward Elgar, Federico Fellini and Graham Greene. Soon to come would be TS Hermann Hesse, but the story moved on and Herr Hesse was not required. Before the book begins, northern Europe has already been ravaged by the (undescribed and unmentioned) TS Alan Alda, Brigitte Bardot and Charlie Chaplin.

The difficulty of finding a storm with the initials I. I. was something I shrank from, but considered that eight storms were probably enough for one winter in Europe, and certainly more than enough for the purposes of my novel.

Something I discovered while researching this subject was that the naming of storms was started by the American author George R. Stewart, in his novel Storm (1941).