10 Must Read Climate-Fiction Books
Cultural depictions of climate change have caught the interest of a growing number of scholars. Together with a multi-disciplinary group of researchers, Johannes Stripple and Alexandra Nikoleris work within the initiative Narrating Climate Futures and the newly initiated project Climaginares. Climate change has been a difficult subject to communicate, its abstract nature and complex lingo shrouds the impact it will have on us as individuals and local communities. Might literature play a role in resolving this issue?
- Literature facilitates a broader discussion on climate change mitigation and how a desirable post-fossil society would look like. It helps us imagine what it would be like to live in that kind of society and to explore the conflicts and tensions, but also the joys and wonders of different futures, says Alexandra Nikoleris.
Often, the nuances of how daily life is impacted by climate change are lost along the way as dystopian headlines flash across our smartphone screens. Books, however, allow a more complex narrative to unfold. We meet characters whom we can relate to, as struggles of romance, work life balance and family are set with a climate-changed world as a backdrop. After reading The History of Bees by Maja Lunde(not on the list but highly recommended), every news flash about an impending insecticide connects to the book's character George, a bee-keeper whose business implodes as Colony Collapse Disorder mysteriously ravages the bee population. It makes the abstract a reality. Our hope is that one of these books will catch your eye and deepen your understanding of our changing environment.
The list (in no particular order)
The carbon diaries 2015
by Saci Lloyd
It's January 1st, 2015, and the UK is the first nation to introduce carbon dioxide rationing, in a drastic bid to combat climate change. As her family spirals out of control, Laura Brown chronicles the first year of rationing with scathing abandon. Will her mother become one with her inner wolf? Will her sister give up her weekends in Ibiza? Does her father love the pig more than her? Can her band "the dirty angels" make it big? And will Ravi Datta ever notice her? In these dark days, Laura deals with the issues that really matter: love, floods and pigs.The Carbon Diaries 2015 is one girl's drastic bid to stay sane in a world unravelling at the seams.
by Maja Lunde
David is French and lives in 2041 in a drought-and war-ridden Southern Europe with his little daughter Lou. They are fleeing their home town, and are desperately seeking Davids wife Anna and the baby August, whom they have been seperated from. 70-year old Signe has grown up in a small village in Western Norway. In 2017 she sets out on a hazardous voyage, trying to cross an ocean all by herself in a sailboat. A love story starts to surface, and we learn why and how she lost the love of her life.
by Barbara Kingsolver
Dellarobia Turnbow is a 28-year-old discontented housewife living with her poor family on a farm in rural Tennessee. On a hike, on which she is planning to meet a telephone repairman to begin an affair with him, the heroine finds that the valley behind their house is covered in millions of monarch butterflies. As the news of her discovery spreads, she receives a visit from Ovid Byron, a university professor who studies the monarchs, and warns that although they are beautiful, they are a disturbing symptom of global climate change, displaced from their typical wintering location in Mexico, and that they may not survive the harsh Tennessee winter.
by Marcel Theroux
Into this cold land comes shocking evidence that life might be flourishing elsewhere: a refugee emerges from the vast emptiness of forest, whose existence inspires Makepeace to reconnect with human society and take to the road, armed with rough humor and an unlikely ration of optimism. What Makepeace finds is a world unraveling: stockaded villages enforcing an uncertain justice and hidden work camps laboring to harness the little-understood technologies of a vanished civilization. But Makepeace's journey rife with danger also leads to an unexpected redemption.
I'm with the bears: Short stories from a damaged planet
edited by Mark Martin
The size and severity of the global climate crisis is such that even the most committed environmentalists can drift into a state of denial. The award-winning writers collected here have made it their task to shake off this nagging disbelief, bringing the incomprehensible within our grasp and shaping an emotional response to mankind’s unwitting creation of a tough new planet. From T. C. Boyle’s account of early eco-activists, to Nathaniel Rich’s comic fantasy about a marine biologist haunted by his youth, and David Mitchell’s vision of a near future where oil sells for $800 a barrel—these ten provocative, occasionally chilling, sometimes satirical stories bring a human reality to disasters of inhuman proportions.
Memory of Water
by Emmi Itäranta
When Noria Kaitio reaches her seventeenth birthday, she is entrusted with the secret of a freshwater spring hidden deep within the caves near her small rural village. Its preservation has been the responsibility of her family for generations. Apprenticed to her father, one of the last true tea masters, when Noria takes possession of the knowledge, she become much more than the guardian of ancestral treasure; soon, she will hold the fate of everyone she loves in her hands.
New York 2140
by Kim Stanley Robinson
The waters rose, submerging New York City. But the residents adapted and it remained the bustling, vibrant metropolis it had always been. Though changed forever. Every street became a canal. Every skyscraper an island. Through the eyes of the varied inhabitants of one building Kim Stanley Robinson shows us how one of our great cities will change with the rising tides. And how we too will change.
Odds Against Tomorrow
by Nathaniel Rich
NEW YORK CITY, the near future: Mitchell Zukor, a gifted young mathematician, is hired by a mysterious new financial consulting firm, FutureWorld. The business operates out of a cavernous office in the Empire State Building; Mitchell is employee number two. He is asked to calculate worst-case scenarios in the most intricate detail, and his schemes are sold to corporations to indemnify them against any future disasters. This is the cutting edge of corporate irresponsibility, and business is booming. As Mitchell immerses himself in the mathematics of catastrophe--ecological collapse, global war, natural disasters--he becomes obsessed by a culture's fears. Yet he also loses touch with his last connection to reality: Elsa Bruner, a friend with her own apocalyptic secret, who has started a commune in Maine. Then, just as Mitchell's predictions reach a nightmarish crescendo, an actual worst-case scenario overtakes Manhattan. Mitchell realizes he is uniquely prepared to profit. But at what cost?
At once an all-too-plausible literary thriller, an unexpected love story, and a philosophically searching inquiry into the nature of fear, Nathaniel Rich's Odds Against Tomorrow poses the ultimate questions of imagination and civilization. The future is not quite what it used to be.
by Ian McEwan
Michael Beard is a Nobel prize-winning physicist whose best work is behind him. Trading on his reputation, he speaks for enormous fees, lends his name to the letterheads of renowned scientific institutions and half-heartedly heads a government-backed initiative tackling global warming. A compulsive womaniser, Beard finds his fifth marriage floundering. But this time it is different: she is having the affair, and he is still in love with her. When Beard’s professional and personal worlds collide in a freak accident, an opportunity presents itself for Beard to extricate himself from his marital mess, reinvigorate his career and save the world from environmental disaster. Ranging from the Arctic Circle to the deserts of New Mexico, SOLAR is a serious and darkly satirical novel, showing human frailty struggling with the most pressing and complex problem of our time.
The Collapse of Western Civilization: A view from the future
by Naomi Oreskes and Erik M. Conway
The year is 2393, and the world is almost unrecognizable. Clear warnings of climate catastrophe went ignored for decades, leading to soaring temperatures, rising sea levels, widespread drought and―finally―the disaster now known as the Great Collapse of 2093, when the disintegration of the West Antarctica Ice Sheet led to mass migration and a complete reshuffling of the global order. Writing from the Second People's Republic of China on the 300th anniversary of the Great Collapse, a senior scholar presents a gripping and deeply disturbing account of how the children of the Enlightenment―the political and economic elites of the so-called advanced industrial societies―failed to act, and so brought about the collapse of Western civilization.