A new sub-genre of science fiction—climate fiction—has taken hold. Leading lights such as Kim Stanley Robinson, author of New York 2140, and Margaret Atwood, author of The Handmaid’s Tale and the Maddaddam trilogy, have put global warming on the literary stage. A host of lesser-known, but equally brilliant authors are also tackling the subject. Here’s a selected list of climate fiction novels and anthologies I’ve reviewed.
Gold Fame Citrus (Claire Vaye Watkins) — Claire Vaye Watkins’ Dune-like universe is populated with prophets, prostitutes, survivors, and assorted characters at home in a Mad Max movie.
The Subprimes (Karl Taro Greenfeld) — A laugh-out loud satire, the Subprimes reveals how the slow strangulation of the earth is ripe ground for black humor.
After Water (various authors) — After Water is actually an anthology of moody audio stories focused on a future Great Lakes damaged by a warming world.
The Water Knife (Paolo Bacigalupi) — One of the leading authors in the emerging cli-fi genre, Paolo Bacigalupi uses the Kafkaesque laws on water rights as a starting point for coping in a world without enough water.
Clade (James Bradley) — Australia is on the front lines of climate change’s effects, and in Clade, James Bradley has found a balance between the headline-grabbing hurricanes and droughts and a family’s desperate hopes.
Love in a Time of Climate Change (Brian Adams) — The environmental movement, including climate change activists, tend to take themselves a bit too seriously, a characteristic humorist Brian Adams successfully skewers.
The Windup Girl (Paolo Bacigalupi) — Climate change is one piece of a fascinating story Paolo Bacigalupi sets in a future Bangkok.
The Sea and Summer (George Turner) — Science fiction writers have speculated about a warmed world since the mid-20th century, but George Turner’s novel of a drowned Australia marks a turning point in the nascent climate fiction genre.
Memory of Water (Emmi Itäranta) — Water, always scarce in many parts of the world, is guarded by an oppressive military in the world spun by Finnish author Emmi Itäranta, but she manages to find lyricism in the darkness.
A Wrong Turn at the Office of Unmade Lists (Jane Rawson) — Again, an Australian writer produces a chilling and puzzling story set in a continent wrecked by an overheated atmosphere.
In Ark (Lisa Devaney) — Author Lisa Devaney was one of the first independent authors to actively label her work climate fiction, and In Ark reminds us that ideologists often have hidden agendas.
Hot Mess (various authors) — The thin, but powerful Hot Mess was one of the earliest anthologies of fiction focused solely on the impacts of climate change.
Water’s Edge (Rachel Meehan) — An early young adult cli-fi novel, Rachel Meehan’s Water’s Edge takes the abstractions of global warming and shows how they might affect the lives of a Scottish family.
The World We Made (Jonathan Porritt) — Most climate fiction tends toward pessimism, even dystopia, but the optimistic The World We Made shows how one character’s life changes when humanity takes climate change seriously and successfully adapts.
What climate fiction novels or anthologies have you read?