Though the Earth Gives Way

Side by side images of the book jacket for Though the Earth Gives Way and its author Mark S. Johnson wearing a dark shirt and glasses.

Mark S. Johnson has written about science and health for more than 35 years as a journalist, earning a 2011 Pulitzer Prize for Explanatory Reporting and a finalist nod three other times throughout his career. But this is the first time the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reporter is putting that vast skill set to use in the realm of fiction. “Though the Earth Gives Way” is Johnson’s debut novel, out this month from Bancroft Press. Part apocalyptic horror story, part cautionary (if hopeful) tale, Johnson’s narrative follows the journey of Elon, who has fled a home that no longer exists, in a coastal town swallowed by the rising ocean and catastrophic storms. The rest of the world has met a similar fate as wildfires, earthquakes, mass systems failures and other consequences of climate change have finally brought modern civilization to its knees—not 20 or 50 years from now, but in the year 2028. Instead of speaking in the broad brushstrokes that have arguably helped us stay numb to climate change’s potential wrath, Johnson paints a vivid picture of exactly what that breakdown looks like through Elon’s experiences on the road, as well as a storytelling cast of characters he meets along the way. Although “Though the Earth Gives Way” is a work of fiction, Johnson’s acquired knowledge and decades of extracting stories from sources clearly inform the tale. He also tapped University of Wisconsin–Madison epidemiologist Tony Goldberg to bring further validity and horrifying detail to a doomsday scenario that most scientists agree is not imaginary, but inevitable.

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Senior Editor

Maggie Ginsberg is a senior editor at Madison Magazine. Her long-form features have garnered numerous honors since 2006 including from the National City Regional Magazine Association, the Milwaukee Press Club and the American Society of Journalist and Authors. In addition to helping edit the work of Madison Magazine's contributing writers, freelancers and essayists, she writes features and the monthly Looking Back historical photo department page. Online, Maggie conducts monthly author Q&As and covers the local literary scene with her Sunday Reads monthly e-newsletter. Her own debut novel, "Still True," was published by the University of Wisconsin Press in September 2022. 

You can also find her on Instagram.