Thursday, November 1, 2018

From rising sea levels to post-apocalyptic living, here are 6 cli-fi books that highlight climate change’s potential drawbacks.


Climate change is very real, but you don’t have to venture far to learn about it: many cli-fi novels pinpoint this dangerous environmental issue and its negative consequences.
Even though a UN-backed IPCC report recently said that Earth’s ozone layer is healing, there is still much work to be done to reduce the use of greenhouse gases and minimize our carbon footprint. And, authors are shedding light on the climate change crisis in their fiction and nonfiction novels. While many plots are different, most point to the same concept: we all can do our part to protect the planet.
From rising sea levels to post-apocalyptic living, here are 6  cli-fi novels by contemporary writers that highlight climate change’s potential drawbacks.

The Windup Girl by Paolo Bacigalupi

New people, a mix of slaves, soldiers, and toys, are luxuries of the rich in a future timeframe. The Windup Girl involves Anderson Lake, a company man, who becomes enchanted by Emiko, one of these beautiful and otherworldly forms. When calorie companies rule the world, the oil age has passed, and bio-terrorism thrives, he must navigate his high-tech life and explore what’s left of his planet.

I’m With the Bears: Short Stories from a Damaged Planet by various authors

The global climate crisis could be be overwhelming, yet a group of award-winning writers have come together to shape an emotional response to environmental issues. Featuring short stories from Margaret Atwood, T.C. Boyle, Kim Stanley Robinson, and other novelists, I’m With the Bears: Short Stories From a Damaged Planet, channels creep satire about humankind’s imprint on Earth.

Gold Fame Citrus by Claire Vaye Watkins

Set in the near future, droughts have overtaken Southern California and two lovers go to extreme measures to survive in Gold Fame Citrus. After the couple finds a mysterious child, they decide to leave their depleted area and search for a better life beyond climate change problems.

‘New York 2140’ by Kim Stanley Robinson 
It’s the year 2140, and nearly every part of New York City is underwater. As sea levels rise, people are living in the tallest skyscrapers and trying to stay calm despite climate change issues. New York 2140 highlights the struggles of all social classes, and the disappearance of “coders,” also known as temporary residents, prompts the metropolis to save itself from environmental destruction.

''A Friend of the Earth'' by T.C. Boyle in 2000

Biodiversity does not exist in the novel. A Friend of the Earth, published in 2000 and taking place in 2025, follows Tyrone O’Shaughnessy Tierwater, a man who’s haunted by his lover and the fact he would like to save the animals people don’t want to keep.

And coming in 2019:

'Gun Island' by Amitav Ghosh

Billed as ''a 350-page cli-fi novel set in several locations around the world''


A Goateed Amitav Ghosh at Peace in Paris
Novelist Amitav Ghosh will be doing a reading and signing books at MacEwan Ballroom on Nov. 20 as the 2018-2019 Distinguished Visiting Writer for the Calgary Distinguished Writers Program. Photo courtesy Amitav Ghosh
Though his climatologist friends mock him for his guilty pleasure, novelist Amitav Ghosh admits he is a huge fan of Hollywood’s overblown cli-fi disaster epics, such as The Day After Tomorrow and Geostorm.

“I love them! I watch them obsessively,” he says, chuckling.

“My climate scientist friends laugh at me for this,” Ghosh says, “because the practical science in a movie like The Day After Tomorrow is bad. But I find these cli-fi movies very compelling. And I do think both film and television very forward-leaning in dealing with climate change.”

He describes his upcoming cli-fi novel Gun Island as a story about a world wracked by climate change “in which creature and beings of every kind have been torn loose from their accustomed homes by the catastrophic processes of displacement that are now unfolding across the Earth at an ever-increasing pace.”

“Climate change is the most important crisis of our times and it’s hitting us in the face every day,” says Ghosh. “Look at these devastating typhoons and tornadoes, or the wildfires om Candaa and California and Greece. These are deadly serious weather events and lived experiences.''
He adds: ''If you think of John Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath (1939), that’s a book about climate change, with the Dust Bowl that occurred in America in the 1920s and 1930s. ''

In many ways The Great Derangement began as a sort of ''auto-critique,'' says Ghosh, with the writer challenging himself for failing to adequately tackle the issues of climate change in his own work.

Ghosh says that some contemporary novelists have written brilliantly about this crisis of our times, such as Richard Powers in this year’s The Overstory. And given the magnitude of this dilemma, Ghosh hopes to see more cli-fi novels and movies soon.

It's not necessarily a matter of sitting down with an agenda to write the great cli-fi novel.

 “It’s more a matter of writing a cli-fi novel and being aware that the reality of climate change is all around you, just as the realities of your city or village or province is around you. It’s a part of our reality — so let’s better address this.”

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