Feature photo: @septembershiraeth
Climate change, or Cli-Fi in the science fiction world, is a subgenre where authors interpret or predict the effects that climate change can have on society. Some imagine a dystopian world filled with doom and gloom, while others provide a hopeful tomorrow.
Check out how these authors discuss a globally important issue in the past, present and future.
How Beautiful We Were by Mbue Imbolo
Set in1980, a young girl named Thula and village, the fictional town of Kosawa, Africa, are met with environmental calamity and destruction from an American oil company, Pexton. Their year-long project is slowly depleting Kosawa’s water, air supply and land. Many villagers have been poisoned from the water supply or died. When the promises for restoration fall on death ears, the people of Kosawa decide to fight for their home.
Orleans by Sherri L. Smith
When the Gulf Coast experiences a severe outbreak of Delta Fever alongside devastating hurricanes, quarantine is the next thing that follows. Five years later, everyone assumed that the Delta Fever had wiped out the world. Instead, a new order of beings was born. For 15-year-old Fen de la Guerre and those around her, being ordered into a tribe based on your blood type is the new normal. When Fen’s tribe leader leaves her newborn behind for protection from an ambush, Fen must do everything she can to get the baby to safety before it’s too late.
Parable of the Sower by Octavia E. Butler
Lauren Olamina knows her safe haven will come to an end very soon. It’s why she keeps a getaway bag stored inside her room. She lives with her family in one of the remaining safe neighborhoods on the borders of Los Angeles. Their world—lost to water shortage, war, disease and more. As the citizens try to salvage what’s left of their society, in the back of her mind and her journals, Lauren is ready for a new world. The moment their compound gets ransacked and Lauren loses her family, she starts her journey into the dark and damaged world. Along the way, she picks up refugees, and together they fight for a better future.
The Actual Star by Monica Byrne
In the Belizean jungle, three reincarnated souls interacting amongst three different timelines will tell the story of the Earth and the moments following a massive climate-affected society. Mayan siblings Ixul and Ajul are ready to take their throne in 1012, while in 2012, Leah, an American tourist with Mayan roots journeys to Belize looking into her father’s roots. Fast forward to 3012, where civilization for Niloux and Tanaaj means living in a similar history that took place on the same Belizean grounds. While one is clinging to the past, another tries to push into the future. Each story will question traditions and progress, family and emotions, identity and fate.
Eleutheria by Allegra Hyde
When Willa Marks discovers Living the Solution, a guide to fighting climate change, her life will never be the same. Living in an apocalypse bunker with survivalist parents, Willa is surprised when they suddenly die, leaving her lost and unsure of the future. So with hope and nothing left to lose, Willa joins Camp Hope, an organization devoted to fighting climate change on an island called Eleutheria in the Bahamas. Only, as soon as she arrives, Roy Adams, the author of Living the Solution, is missing, and their launch date to the public gets delayed. Willa will race the clock to uncover the secrets of Camp Hope, no matter the cost.
War Girls by Tochi Onyebuchi
In 2172, climate change destroyed large chunks of the world. The nuclear disasters took out the rest. A select and lucky few escaped to the space colonies in the sky. Survival is the only way of life when civil war rampages throughout Earth. Soldiers now use bionic limbs or artificial organs to withstand the radiation polluting the air. Onyii and Ify, two Nigerian sisters, are caught in the middle. Onyii has become a soldier with augmented limbs, while Ify is smart and witty, using her mind to create technology that grants her powers. But when Ify gets captured, and Onyii assumes she is lost forever, the two sisters will have to do everything they can to fight for each other and their future.
Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood
Jimmy, also known as Snowman, is the last human living on Earth. Everyone else isn’t human; they’ve been altered by science or lost to the plague. Now he’s surrounded in a world filled with the docile children of Crake, who are perfect sentients, void of envy, jealousy, or other human emotions. The story follows Jimmy’s life moments before he lost all that was dear to him. His mother, a former microbiologist who predicted the environmental concerns and the Armageddon before it happened, his best friend named Crake and Oryx, the young Asian girl they both loved.
Trashlands by Alison Stine
Plastic is currency. Due to the natural disasters and massive flooding from climate change across North America, living on Earth has become the ultimate struggle. Women and children are at constant risk, and pollution covers the lands. Amidst the Appalachian region, Coral lives in what’s called Scrappalachia. She works at Trashland, a garbage junkyard/strip club where she collects plastic from the rivers and woods. Once she’s saved enough currency, Coral can free her son Shanghai from the child labor factories where he’s forced to work. During the little free time that Coral takes when she isn’t plucking plastic, she makes art. And when an outside reporter comes to town, her life and future could all change.
The Book of Joan by Lidia Yuknavitch
The future is a battleground filled with global wars and violence. The Earth is now a destroyed and desolate place. In order to flee the radioactive land, humans are now living on CIEL, a mysterious platform hovering in another universe. Any remaining humans are genderless, and hairless, writing old stories onto their skin. Jean de Men, a ruthless leader, forces CIEL into a political state. But a band of climate rebels and their leader Joan will unite to end his terror over the people.
Stay and Fight by Madeline Ffitch
When Helen arrives in Appalachian Ohio, she makes plans on how life will go, living off the land. All too soon, her boyfriend calls it quits, and her neighbors Karen and Lily, who are expecting an adopted child, might be gone too. The couple can no longer stay at the Women’s Land Trust, the land close to Helen. Extending the offer, Helen convinces the couple to move in and help with chores around the farm. When Perley arrives, together Helen and the lesbian couple raise him as one big family, eating acorn mash and squirrel meat. As Perley is older and one of his mother’s takes a job for an oil pipeline, she soon realizes that the same pipeline is headed straight for their land, threatening everything they know and love.