Ceive by B.K. Fischer (BOA)
Ceive is first-rate science fiction. Ceive is a book-length story, a novella in verse. Ceive is absolutely contemporary, a way of thinking about the near future and the far future, a stab at a try at a take on the climate catastrophe that is coming to all our towns soon. Ceive is Noah’s Ark on a container ship, repurposed to re-found human civilization on new grounds in the far north, with a passenger manifest of misfits, a deeply neuroatypical teen called Crispin for navigator, our protagonist Val for his caretaker, and Roy the UPS guy as her would-be savior. Ceive is suspenseful, on occasion sexy, unpredictable, elegant, and (without giving up or giving in) sad.
It’s also a poem that—like all poems worth the name—lives line by line. “Count containers/ to find your way back, because nouns can be/ mass or count and some can be either–/ sin, a sin, crime, a crime, death, a death.”  Val thinks she’s lost her daughter, and she may be right. Like all of us, she’s headed into a future no one can know, a time when “all your beads slide off your string.”  What can she carry? Who, if anyone, can she save? Does gender matter? Do hierarchies only and always reproduce their bad selves? Does each ship need a captain? Do we?
When she’s not pursuing the future of the Earth—and sometimes when she is—Fischer builds in plays on words, including the words and semi-words that give her section titles: ceive as in conceive (a child), incipient, receive (along with prose poems whose titles are geolocations). She also incorporates references, quotations, research points, into Val’s shore-to-ship-to-maybe-shore story: Wallace Stevens, Helene Cixous, the eco-philosopher Timothy Morton and various science-climate journalists such as Elizabeth Kolbert appear, unobtrusively. Fischer knows her stuff. And her stuff is the stuff on which human plans, and wishes, and disappointments are made: the material out of which readers might find a way to think about oncoming destruction, and—like Val, if she’s lucky; like Crispin; like the Mary Ellen Carter—rise again.