What If a Tech CEO Tried to Save the World With Geoengineering? An Excerpt From ‘Veil’

Eliot Peper’s new science fiction thriller ‘Veil’ imagines a world in which the wealthy and powerful can hijack the climate at will

Eliot Peper
OneZero
Published in
14 min readMay 18, 2020

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An illustration of the Earth balancing on a triangular peak, tilting toward one side
Image: Daniel Grizelj/Photodisc/Getty Images

As the climate crisis grows increasingly dire, a radical question is appearing on more politicians’ lips: What if we geoengineer our way out of the mess? The notion that we could reduce global temperatures with a sweeping technical fix and for relatively cheaply — by, say, spraying particulates into the sky to block the sunlight — is at first blush rather appealing. But then it would likely produce drastic and potentially devastating unintended consequences, too.

Enter Eliot Peper’s latest book, Veil. Peper’s work always has a ‘next five-minutes-to-five years in the future’ vibe, and the latest is no different; the speculative fiction writer has crafted a modern parable about ecological collapse, climate change, technology, and power.

“This scenario raises so many questions that will define the coming century: what does it mean to exist within an environment in which we ourselves are the primary agent of change?” Peper muses about the inspiration for Veil. “What will the future look like when technologies like nuclear weapons, CRISPR, the internet, and geoengineering can give a single human being the power to literally change the world?”

Good questions. To begin to explore the answers, we’re pleased to share an exclusive excerpt of Veil. Enjoy.

— OneZero Senior Editor Brian Merchant

The surface of the Earth curved away in all directions. At 25 kilometers up, the planet’s shape was clearly visible and distance yielded truths that proximity occluded. Zia became viscerally aware of the essential strangeness of the solar system, that life for all its wonders was confined to a hunk of rock hurtling through spacetime along trajectories that could be traced all the way back to the Big Bang. The sun blazed in all its naked glory, that most intimate of stars edging ever closer to…

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Eliot Peper
OneZero

Eliot Peper is the bestselling author of eleven novels, including most recently, Foundry. He also consults on special projects. www.eliotpeper.com