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Climate change in novel form
« on: April 02, 2013, 08:09:41 AM »
I've realised that I've read a number of books where climate change is one of the key themes of the book (although that's not the reason I read them).

They're certainly not going to add anything a visitor to this site doesn't already know, but might make a good gift for a family member who might otherwise lack engagement on the subject.

I'm a fan of dystopian sci-fi (although I prefer it to stay fictional), and the first books are in that genre:
First up is Margaret Atwood with Oryx and Crake and Year of the Flood. Set in a high-tech, high polluting near future, sea levels have risen at catastrophic rates due to methane bubbling up out of the permafrost, the weather is hot, hot, hot and humid with big storms (it's not spelt out, but the novels appear to be set in Boston) and rich people take summer holidays on the shores of Hudson Bay. Polar bears are gone - one of the characters worked for Operation Bearlift in his past.

Second is Paolo Bacigalupi with The Wind-up Girl (and adult novel) and Ship Breaker (a teen novel). These are set in a high gene tech, high poverty, low energy future. The wind-up Girl only has oblique mentions to climate change, such as high sea levels and restrictions on the use of coal, but Ship Breaker paints a strongly dystopian climate change future. The main protagonist (a teenage ship breaker) lives on the shore of the Gulf of Mexico, sea levels have risen, cities have drowned and Cat 5 hurricanes are a regular occurrence in the Gulf. The description of a partially drowned but still functioning New, New Orleans is excellent. The main character dreams of working on a clipper ship, and has a picture on the wall of his hovel, of a clipper sailing across the arctic ocean, with ice crystals forming on the rigging. It is still a teen novel, and the final chase and fight scene which occupies the last quarter of the book doesn't have much for the adult reader.

In the category of General Fiction we have:
Barbara Kingsolver with Flight Behaviour. I do like Kingsolver, although her novels can feel a little bit educational sometimes, although this novel entertains well enough, you don't really notice. It's set in rural Tennesse, and the plot revolves around Monarch butterflies that have unexpectedly overwintered in the mountains there, due, of course, to climate change. The novel paints a sympathetic and often entertaining picture of the locals. It's not a climate change doom novel, dealing with the more subtle and near-term effects and so is unlikely to put people off with 'alarmism'.

Lastly, Ian McEwan with Solar. This is a highly entertaining satirical book, with a thoroughly repulsive central character. The author even pokes fun at some of the plot ideas in some of his earlier books. A lot of information is imparted to the reader, but it doesn't feel at all heavy. The only problem I see is that some readers may also think that the climate change message is also intended as an object of fun. Not everyone gets satire.

Pmt111500

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Re: Climate change in novel form
« Reply #1 on: April 02, 2013, 12:35:32 PM »
Recommending Kim Stanley Robinson's 'Antarctica', that I read last year. In the novel some of the research in Antarctica is quite extensively described (with a only a dose of scifi). The climate change is prevalent in the chapters with the third main character.
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frankendoodle

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Re: Climate change in novel form
« Reply #2 on: April 05, 2013, 01:58:28 AM »
I highly recommend Cloud Atlas (the book, not the movie). It's beautifully written and one of the reoccurring themes is mans inhumanity to his environment; which is a companion to the main themes of mans inhumanity to man and the cyclical nature of existence. 

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Re: Climate change in novel form
« Reply #3 on: October 09, 2013, 03:58:38 PM »
'The sands of Sarasvati' by R.Isomäki is still only in finnish afaik, but there's an english comic made  from it and possibly a movie coming out some day.
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idunno

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Re: Climate change in novel form
« Reply #4 on: October 11, 2013, 03:14:03 PM »
I was actually thinking of starting a bran-new thread, on "Sea Ice Tales", but I haven't worked out how to start a thread yet, so hope I can be forgiven for butting in here.

I'd recommend "Polar Star", the sequel to the more celebrated "Gorky Park", by Martin Cruz Smith. The action takes place on and off a Soviet era factory ship that is trawling the Bering Sea. I think this is possibly my favourite thriller, and, no spoilers, the climactic scene is set on sea ice.

I love the Aubrey/Maturin saga by Patrick O'Brian; "Desolation Island", about the fifth of 20 novels, finds them dodging icebergs in the Far Southern ocean. It can be read as a stand-alone single tale, but I am quite capable of telling anyone prepared to listen that he whole series of 20 books is well worth their while. Those who are uninterested in the 19th Century Navy would find plenty of excellent insights into the "natura

Miss Smilla's Feeling for Snow is more centred on Greenland, and I read it last yonks ago, but I remember enjoying it enough to have it still on the "worth re-visiting" list.

Doesn't Dr Frankenstein's monster finish by running away into the Hyperboean regions, never to be heard of again?,

idunno

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Re: Climate change in novel form
« Reply #5 on: October 11, 2013, 03:27:10 PM »
EDIT - pressed wrong button

Sentence should read

Those who are uninterested in the 19th Century Navy would find plenty of excellent insights into the "natural philosophy" = science of the Age of the Enlightenment.

Whole thing should end with an appeal for any other suggestions for further tales set in, on or near the sea ice.

Just to try to be on topic, for a change, I can also recommend JGBallard -recently of "Crash" and "Cocaine Nights" fame/infamy. The Drowned World and several of his earlier works are set in dystopian futures on a polluted planet.

Theta

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Re: Climate change in novel form
« Reply #6 on: November 07, 2013, 02:12:25 PM »
Not sure if bumping the thread with this particular piece of literature, but regardless, I thought I would post up a series of Short Stories that I am writing on the topic of Global Warming and Food Shortages. The story as of part one is about a group of people from an Irish college trying to survive in a world that is spiraling down into chaos as disastrous weather decimates the ability of the Bread Baskets of the world to produce food.

At the moment I plan for the short story to consist of six parts with one part already up and the second part in the works at the moment.

The first part of the Short Story series can be found here: http://runawayseries.blogspot.ie/2013/07/holidays-end.html

If bumping the thread like this was a bad idea, please let me know  ;)
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Re: Climate change in novel form
« Reply #7 on: November 08, 2013, 04:41:56 AM »
Bump away, Theta. Nice work.
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Acts5v29

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Re: Climate change in novel form
« Reply #8 on: February 21, 2014, 12:38:42 PM »
Here is one which might add a different perspective:

"Divine Rescue from Mankind's Final Crisis" is a PDF / Kindle which touches on the context surrounding the climate. It can be downloaded from

www.worshipJehovah.org/divineRescue

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« Last Edit: February 21, 2014, 12:54:24 PM by Acts5v29 »

JimD

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Re: Climate change in novel form
« Reply #9 on: February 21, 2014, 05:17:15 PM »
I was actually thinking of starting a bran-new thread, on "Sea Ice Tales", but I haven't worked out how to start a thread yet, so hope I can be forgiven for butting in here.

idunno, it is a easy as pie!  Just go to a category (like The Rest where we are now) and on the top of the screen is a button which says "New Topic".  Push it and off you go.
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How is it conceivable that all our technological progress - our very civilization - is like the axe in the hand of the pathological criminal? Albert Einstein

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Re: Climate change in novel form
« Reply #10 on: February 21, 2014, 05:38:45 PM »
You guys are forgetting the most famous scifi book on environmental disaster ever written.

The Sheep Look Up by John Brunner from 1972.  It was inspiration for many of the famous environmentalists as well as many of the Earth First and ELF monkeywrenchers.

He also wrote Stand on Zanzibar in 1968 which dealt with dramatic overpopulation.
We do not err because truth is difficult to see. It is visible at a glance. We err because this is more comfortable. Alexander Solzhenitsyn

How is it conceivable that all our technological progress - our very civilization - is like the axe in the hand of the pathological criminal? Albert Einstein