Although stories about man-made or natural climate change are nothing new, there has been an explosion of them in recent years as concerns about global warming have grown more pressing, so many that activist Dan Bloom coined the term “cli-fi” (short for climate fiction) to represent the genre. Climate fiction is commonly dystopian or post-apocalyptic, but the genre also includes thrillers, adventure novels, young adult fiction, literary fiction, and more. Here are 10 great cli-fi novels from a variety of genres:
1. Bacigalupi, Paolo – The Windup Girl
In Bacigalupi’s overheated near future Thailand, bioterrorism runs rampant and food is the most valuable commodity. Bacigalupi’s upcoming novel The Water Knife, is also cli-fi, this time set in a drought-stricken US Southwest, where Nevada, Arizona, and California have gone to war over water, as are his YA novels Ship Breaker and The Drowned Cities.
2. Buckell, Tobias – Arctic Rising
This climate fiction thriller has received a lot of praise for its realistic depiction of a near-future world in which the Arctic ice cap has melted and different countries are scrambling for control of the oil reserves that lie underneath.
3. Jensen, Liz – The Rapture
As global warming intensifies and catastrophes become increasingly frequent, a psychologist is called to treat a troubled teenage girl who seems to be able to predict future disasters.
4. Kingsolver, Barbara – Flight Behavior
An Appalachian farm wife stumbles on a valley full of monarch butterflies and interprets it as a sign from God in this climate fiction novel by Pulitzer Prize-nominee Barbara Kingsolver.
5. Lloyd, Saci – The Carbon Diaries
In 2015, a teenage girl tries to keep her band and her family together when the UK imposes harsh carbon restrictions in an attempt to mitigate global warming.
6. McEwan, Ian – Solar
A funny satire about a physicist who can’t even salvage his own messed-up life, yet finds himself in the position of needing to save humanity.
7. McGinnis, Mindi – Not a Drop To Drink
In a future where water is scarce and precious, teenage Lynn is already an expert at defending her family’s pond from any threat. But after her mother is killed by coyotes, she knows it’s only a matter of time before men from the nearby settlement attack in an attempt to claim her water for themselves.
8. Oreskes, Naomi and Eric Conway – The Collapse of Western Civilization: A View from the Future
An unusual book that’s not quite novel, not quite non-fiction, but something more like future non-fiction. In 2393, a historian from the Second People’s Republic of China writes a history of the 21st century and the Great Collapse.
9. Rich, Nathaniel – Odds Against Tomorrow
An unusual near-future thriller about “the mathematics of catastrophe.” A talented young mathematician is hired by a mysterious corporation to calculate worst-case scenarios, only to find himself with a moral quandary when an actual worst case scenario strikes New York.
10. Robinson, Kim Stanley – Forty Signs of Rain
Forty Signs of Rain is the first in the Science in the Capitol trilogy about science and policy in near-future Washington, DC.
What are your favorite climate fiction novels?
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