Climate-fi is a genre of novels in which the effects of climate change are central to the plot. I have become more of a fan of climate fiction commensurate with the frequency of books being published.
The first climate-fi story I read – before I knew the genre name – was “The Water Knife” by Paolo Bacigalupi. That came out in 2015 and it wasn’t until 2020 that I picked up the genre again.
Here are books I recommend:
- The Water Knife explores the realistic issues of freshwater supply and who has the right to water sources in the Southwest. This is especially relevant to problems and discussions today, given that people in Arizona are having to buy water from the private market, governments are not approving proposed developments unless they come with new water sources, the state continues to usurp water from upstream freshwater sources, land use is single-use and sprawling, and historic water rights are still a source of conflict.
- Parable of the Sower, by Octavia Butler. The protagonist and her family live in a tenuous gated community in the near future of a United States ravaged by climate change and other economic and political upheavals. She eventually travels towards a place to establish a better community based on a religion she invents.
- Ministry for the Future, by Kim Stanley Robinson, opens in the “almost present” day describing a heat wave in South Asia during which the wet bulb temperature challenges the body’s ability to cool itself and many people die. A climate terrorist group forms to force the world to adapt to and mitigate climate change globally otherwise the poorest people will suffer the most during the crisis. (KSR personally sees cities as a climate change solution.)
- Termination Shock by Neal Stephenson opens with a riveting story of the Dutch queen’s plane crashing in Texas and then winds around the world narrating seemingly unconnected climate change-related events. The story then focuses on how shooting sulfur into the atmosphere has an effect on how much energy of the sun reaches Earth, something that actually happened last year.
What climate fiction books and stories do you recommend?