Things we Didn’t See Coming is a collection of nine stories with the same unnamed central character. The stories are told in a linear order and follow the life of the main character from his childhood to his death. The first story is set on New Year’s Eve 1999 and subsequent stories extend fifty years into the future. The stories are all set in an Australia suffering wild climatic swings.
The main character is neither hero nor anti-hero. He is an everyman survivor; a loner, not a leader. He is shown adapting to new roles and situations as the world around him falters and transforms.
Things We Didn’t See Coming is a perfect title for the book. When most people think of climate change they think of prolonged drought, but in this book the climate swings wildly, as scientists always predicted it would. Each of the nine stories is unpredictable, but not so much in having twists at the end, more that the stories head in unexpected directions and surprise the reader with what the characters are actually up to.
The book is written in a very sparse style. There is not a lot of description or exposition. This is very much a speculative fiction piece where the reader gets to speculate on what happened to get the main character to his current situation.
The novel won the 2009 Age Book of the Year. I absolutely loved it. Because of its literary nature, I would recommend it to any reader who thinks about the future, not just those who enjoy science-fiction.