Friday, October 27, 2017

Susan Gaines, Germany-based American author of the cli-fi novel CARBON DREAMS from 2001, pens a new novel titled ''The Last Naturalist and the Terrorists’ Daughter''

In 2014, after being in touch with Susan Gaines in Germany about all things cli-fi, and she was very interestined, she said, and she told me about her own novel CARBON DREAMS, now out of print but published in 2001 to good reviews, I reviewed the novel on her Amazon site, writing: "Before the newly emerging cli fi genre emerged, Susan Gaines was writing a cli fi novel. It serves re-reading now in 2014 for sure. If ever a book deserved to be re-read and given to a new geneation of readers, this is it."

Sadly, the book is now OOP, out of print.

Now in 2017, she tells my colleague Mary Woodbury in Canada in a recent interview on Mary's excellent website: "As we move into the era of actual climate change, struggling through the mayhem and trying to keep step with the ludicrous out-of-control experiment we’ve wrought on the earth’s biogeochemical systems–to paraphrase the final lines of Carbon Dreams—novelists can’t help but write about climate change even if they are not writing about climate change."

Gaines' new novel is titled The Last Naturalist and the Terrorists’ Daughter, and is not about climate change, she told Mary, adding: "It is set in the recent past, not speculative. But it is narrated by a 22-year-old at the turn of the millennium, and climate change and biodiversity loss inform his character on every level: his perception of nature, his relationships with his parents and grandparents, his hopes for the future and his emerging understanding of the many ways in which history shadows and limits it. As climate change becomes our daily reality, one might think that this whole discussion about a genre of fiction about it would become moot. And yet, even as I write this, the American media reports the devastation wrought by the latest rounds of weather mayhem without addressing climate change, and I have to marvel at our capacity to ignore it. So perhaps I am wrong. Perhaps this discussion about the novelist’s role in reflecting on climate change is not moot at all. Perhaps we should all be heeding Amitav Ghosh’s highly visible but somewhat belated call to arms.”


Susan M. Gaines (Writer in Residence)

Creative writing, science in fiction


Werdegang ‒ Curriculum Vitae

Susan Gaines studied organic chemistry and oceanography in her native California, earning an M.S. and doing doctoral research at Scripps Institution of Oceanography, before abandoning the laboratory to pursue her vocation as a writer. Her fiction is informed by her knowledge and interest in the natural sciences, and her non-fiction science writing bears the mark of a novelist. She has also worked as a freelance editor and translator of literary and academic texts, and as an instructor of creative writing, English, and Spanish (as second languages).

She first came to northern Germany as a fellow at the Hanse-Wissenschaftskolleg in 2002, and took up the post of "Writer in Residence" in the English-speaking cultures department in 2011.

She is one of the founding directors of the “Fiction Meets Science” research collaborative.


Fiction Meets Science: The World of Science under the Literary Microscope
Novel-in-progress: The Last Naturalist and the Terrorists' Daughter



    (with G. Eglinton and J. Rulkötter) Echoes of Life: What Fossil Molecules Reveal About Earth History New York, Oxford: Oxford University Press (2008) 355 pp. [narrative science]
    Carbon Dreams Berkeley: Creative Arts Book Company (2001). 351pp. [novel]

    Short stories

    "Grieving Rights." In Sacred Ground: Writings about Home, edited by Barbara Bonner, 116-142. Minneapolis: Milkweed Editions (1996): 116-142.
    "Luck and the Three Gringitas." The Cream City Review 17, no. 2 (1993): 66-81.
    "Bags." North American Review 277, no.4 (1992): 27.
    "The Mouse." Missouri Review, XIV, no 1 (1991): 32-44; reprinted in Thomas, J. and Thomas, D. The Best of the West New York: Norton (1992): 145-160.
    "Small Pleasures. North American Review 276, no.1 (1991): 48-49.

    Essays and Book Reviews

    "Nuance, Metaphor, and Molecules: The Book Cover That Never Was." Gettysburg Review (Summer, 2010): 191-202.
    "Sex, Love, and Science." Nature 413 (2001): 255.
    "65 million years of life in North America." Review of The Eternal Frontier. An Ecological History of North America and Its Peoples, by Tim Flannery. San Francisco Chronicle Sunday, June 3, 2001.
    "A Nonnative Bird's-Eye View." Review of Tinkering with Eden. A Natural History of Exotics in America, by Kim Todd. San Francisco Chronicle Sunday, January 21, 2001.

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