Nfld. & Labrador

'We're going to be on a hot, crowded planet,' says author Madeline Ashby

Madeline Ashby, Canada Reads author and futurist, says a few decades from now, the human race will be caught between two difficult places.

Canada Reads 2017 author says the world, both real and fictional, is headed for trouble

Madeline Ashby's novel Company Town will be defended on Canada Reads by Measha Brueggergosman. (CBC)

Madeline Ashby, author and futurist, says in just a few decades from now, the human race will be caught between two difficult places.

"If you ask the ultra-wealthy, it's Mars," said Ashby, on the question of where humans will be in half a century.

"If you ask other people, we're going to be on a hot, crowded planet."

Ashby is the author of Company Town, one of the books on this year's Canada Reads shortlist.

She is also a futurist, a specialist who is hired by companies to research and write about trends and the social impacts of design and technology.

Ashby was the special guest at a recent Canada Reads event at the Glovertown Public Library, where she spoke about her work as a futurist to a spellbound audience — that included CBC Radio's Weekend AM host Heather Barrett. Here's part of that conversation. 

Ashby's Company Town will be defended by opera singer Measha Brueggergosman in Canada Reads 2017, starting Monday.

The novel is set on an oil rig off the east coast of Newfoundland, sometime in the future.

The discussion turned to the connection between Ashby's novel and Newfoundland.

The main character in Company Town is Hwa, a young Korean-Newfoundland woman who is hired as a bodyguard. Listen as Ashby talks more about Hwa and the plot of the novel. 

Although some of Ashby's projections about the future, and aspects of Company Town, are grim, the author said she remains optimistic that we — as Canadians and as humans— can work together to make the world a better place.

"We have the resources to bring everybody up to a better standard of living," said Ashby.

"I think we have to figure out how to share better."


Heather Barrett is the host and producer of Weekend AM on CBC Radio One in Newfoundland and Labrador.