Six recs for important ''cli-fi'' novels from around the world, not just the USA....
Leaders from around the world gathered recently in Germany for the annual United Nations conference on climate change. COP23. There theydiscussed progress made toward the Paris agreement, including Syria’s decision to join the accord—a move that situates the United States as the only nation in the world not on board with the climate deal.
But world leaders and scientists aren't the only ones concerned about the planet. Novelists from across genres have taken to writing about climate change in their cli-fi fiction.
Many of these cli-fi novels and short stories take place in the future and share tropes with science fiction, such as otherworldly technologies, cyborg-like species roaming the planet, and futuristic engineering to keep rising sea levels at bay. Others take place in the present and feature protagonists who ask questions about what's to come and what we can do to prevent the worst from happening. Others still may or may not take place on Earth at all, but depict planets that have become so polluted they're barely habitable.
All of these novels fall under a category that's only recently been named (see hot link at): climate fiction, or cli-fi. It's a genre that some writers -- like Annalee Newitz, author of the cli-fi novel Autonomous -- believe can actually affect how people view climate change.
"Fictional stories can give us the long view, taking us beyond our puny human lifespans and revealing how the Earth's environments will change over thousands of years," Newitz tells SYFY WIRE. "Fiction can also explore how human civilization will cope with the floods, fires, and famines to come. We are a resilient species, and we need stories about how we'll survive and clean up the mess we've made just as much as we need news reports of a world in ruins."
Since cli-fi encompasses so many different writing styles, it offers something for everyone, regardless of literary tastes. Here's a guide to get you started.
Future world: Autonomous by Annalee Newitz
Future world: New York 2140 by Kim Stanley Robinson
Present world: South Pole Station by Ashley Shelby
When done well, she continues, it "allows people to engage with climate change's possible, and even probable, impact on humanity in a way that doesn't paralyze them with fear and perhaps even fills them with hope and a desire to act." Pick up South Pole Station if you're looking for a funny and hopeful novel about climate change that's heavily informed by current science.
Present world: Clade by James Bradley
Bradley says cli-fi is important because it helps us to articulate "grief, or fear, or confusion." But at the same time, "it can…push back against despair by making space for possibility." In Clade, one family's triumphs are just as moving as their anguish.