Science fiction has always served as a looking glass into the worries and fears that we will encounter in the future.
From H.G. Wells’ War of the Worlds during the space race, to Max Brooks’ World War Z with the threat of new diseases arising, the stories we tell offer insight to what the general public fears and offers critique of the state that we may find ourselves in, in the distant future.
What does current sci-fi released say about our current fears? Many new sci-fi books examine climate change, and how it will drastically restructure our world in the near future. Things are looking much more “Mad Max” than “Star Trek” (more large-scale war over scarce resources; less peace, brotherhood and pointy ears).Perhaps still ‘no man has boldly gone’ but it’s a darker and dirtier place than we expected. Climate change is one of the biggest problems that we will ever face as a species, and there are many different visions of how the future will pan out.
The new cli-fi storylines hit close to home, featuring hotter summers, more extreme weather and rising sea levels – all things that will affect us and our children in the not-too-distant future.
Climate fiction is an extremely important genre, offering speculation on what might very well be the state of things, sooner rather than later, and commentary on our ability to handle the complex situations that we will be forced to face.
“It has raised awareness of a multitude of topics such as water issues here in the Southwest,” said Meghan Doenges with Maria’s Bookshop,
Consider it your guide to the impending change (if you’re optimistic) or the apocalypse (if you aren’t). These three books are an introduction to what you will need to know and can be found at your local libraries and bookstores.
Loosed Upon the WorldClimate change is complicated. The local weather will change in many different ways around the world, and different places will find ways of solving their unique problems. Loosed Upon the World delves into this complexity. A collection of short stories from many different authors, it showcases how different the effects of climate change could be, from increased rainfall and flooding in Denmark to a lack of water in the American Southwest. With the extinction of many species (perhaps including our own) to the odd adaptations of others (one story features a carnivorous deer), it is clear that the changes will affect more than just our species. The reactions to these changes are incredibly diverse, from “Mad Max”-style justice, to increased ingenuity in resource acquisitions.
The Water KnifeWhen it comes to resources, nothing is more important than water. We use it to make energy, grow food, and we drink quite a bit of it just to survive. Paulo Bacigalupi explores how things with change in the American Southwest as water becomes more and more scarce.
The state of Arizona has become a place where those with water hold it and their power through violence. “Coyotes” smuggle people not from Mexico to Arizona, but from Arizona to California, and the states engage in guerilla warfare and spies to secure water rights.
The story follows three characters caught up in the complex collapse: Angel, gang member turned “Water Knife” for the Southern Nevada Water Authority; Lucy, a reporter covering the Southwest as it implodes; and Maria, a Texan refugee attempting to survive in a new place. Through their intertwining stories, we are shown the lengths people will go to obtain their basic needs.
Gold Fame CitrusLimited and unreliable resources will often lead to an exodus from places of scarcity to places of abundance. In Gold Fame Citrus, by Claire Vaye Watkins, drought leads to an evacuation of Southern California and the American Southwest.
Those who remain in L.A., like Luz and Rey, eke out a living on the fringe, scavenging for food and rationing what little water they can find. But when they find a child living among the ruins, they know that they can no longer be content with what they have and that they must plan for a stable and safe future. They strike out into the desert, hoping to reach northern Colorado or eastern Texas. They know that they might not be admitted into the country, even with fake papers, but they hope their dangerous journey will provide a better life for the little girl.
These stories speculate what might happen when the base of Maslow’s pyramid is removed or disrupted. Some speculate that the world will fall into chaos – kill or be killed – while some think that we may rise above and find ways to better ourselves as a species. What will really happen will most likely be a middle-of-the-road scenario. But the question remains: How and will we rise above the challenges we will face? Until that day comes, it is fun to speculate and read about the possibilities.