By Glenn R. Hening
Surfing Your Ocean Publication
A prodigious blockbuster of a surf novel by Oxnard, California surfer Glenn Hening, Waves of Warning is an epic tale weaving together a full quiver of modern surf themes, dovetailing them into the set-and-setting of a neardistant 21st century and spinning them out towards some illuminating and profoundly frightening logical conclusions … with a few surprising twists along the way.
Co-founder of the Surfrider Foundation in 1984 and founder of the Groundswell Society in 2001, Hening was uniquely qualified for this immense undertaking, and immense it was. Subtitled “A novel about Polynesia, Wall Street and the future of surfing,” his powerful understanding of the mechanics of the surfing world is clearly reflected at all levels, as his characterizations of contemporary surf culture move his story forward.
When first published in 2004, Waves of Warning ran a double-volume total of 780 pages. Advised to tighten his story and smoosh it into a single pair of covers, Hening worked three months/ten hours a day to produce the current 525-page edition, which was published by his own Surfing Your Ocean Publications in 2005.
Lost in the translation, he says, was a large chunk of Antarctic stuff, a San Diego trade show (we still get a Florida one), all the diaries of the “Alba_Sword” crew members, and other bits here and there. “To me,” he says, “the difference between the two ends up being similar to the difference between really good Malibu with a light south wind and excellent Rincon with a slight offshore.”
Alba_Swords are the craft of choice for the book’s Order of Southern Ocean Mariners, an élite group of sailor/scientist/ adventurers whose annual race through the Roaring Forties happens to coincide with an unprecedented series of katabatic windstorms triggered by global warming, and which may signal the end of life on earth as we know it. But these immense and sudden winds create some VERY LARGE waves!
Alba_Swords, says Hening, are what you get by “using the broadbill swordfish to design a round-the-world ocean racing maxi-yacht, and then morph the result through the prisms of the SR-71 spy plane and traditional Polynesia wayfinder trimarans.” Alba_Swords ride waves.
The surf mariners are destined to converge with the book’s other plotlines (one of addiction, greed, and localism played out in the world of corporate surfing, the other of primal escapism, romance, and virtue played out in a South Pacific Shangri-La) at the world’s best (and just discovered) surf spot.
Although Hening’s writing style tends to be a tad creaky, and although this self-published volume is peppered with typographical errors (one of the woes of self-publishing), and while his continuing reiteration of characters’ full names almost drove me crazy at first (i.e., “David Helmares was quick with a rejoinder” … after “David Helmares” has already been mentioned 25 times on the page), the author’s vision is so grand and his human observations so erudite, I found myself forgiving him as I became increasingly absorbed in this exciting page-turner.
While the principles seem thinly-veiled allusions to iconic institutions like Quiksilver and Laird Hamilton, Hening claims this ain’t so.
“ I didn’t write Primary Colors, the take-off on the Clintons written by Joe Kline,” he explains. “His story was, by design, quite transparent and that in itself was part of the story. For Waves of Warning, however, appearances are not reality if people take the time to think things through. Every novel needs some basis in fact woven into it when the near future of a culture is the subject of speculative fiction. However, when one reviewer called my story a stab in the back of Quik – as if I’d somehow skewered them personally or something – well, all I can say is, the battle is far from over when it comes to educating the victims of our soundbite world!
“However,” he adds, “there is one characterization that I tried to portray almost verbatim given my understanding of thug life on the North Shore. I called my bad guys ‘da Tui’ since ‘tui’ is the word for leadership in Fijian. I’m sure careful readers will appreciate the irony. And you can quote me.” – Drew Kampion