Curating Cli-fi

An effort to track and (lightly) categorize literary works that could fruitfully be considered as “cli-fi.” Intended primarily as a means to generate syllabi and reading lists. For a more complete and diverse list, I strongly recommend Mary Woodbury’s site, Eco-fiction

Core Texts

Frequently mentioned in essays and courses about cli-fi, the majority of these works fit into the category of “speculative fiction,” the term Margaret Atwood invokes to describe her own work: the future world depicted extends, rather than invents, currently technologies and trends. Many are set in the present or near-future.

  • Adams, John Joseph, editor. Loosed upon the World: The Saga Anthology of Climate Fiction (2015) [see here for ToC]
  • Margaret Atwood, Maddaddam trilogy
    • Oryx and Crake (2003)
    • The Year of the Flood (2009)
    • Maddaddam (2013)
  • Paolo Bacigalupi
    • The Wind-up Girl (2009)
    • Ship Breaker (2011)
    • The Drowned Cities (2013)
    • The Water Knife (2015)
  • J.G. Ballard
    • The Wind from Nowhere (1961)
    • The Drowned World (1962)
    • The Drought (1965)
    • The Crystal World (1988)
  • T.C. Boyle, A Friend of the Earth (2000)
  • Octavia Butler
    • Parable of the Sower (1993)
    • Parable of the Talents (1998)
  • Michael Crichton, State of Fear (2004)
  • Maggie Gee
    • The Ice People (1998)
    • The Flood (2004)
  • Barbara Kingsolver, Flight Behavior (2014)
  • Doris Lessing
    • Mara and Dann (1999)
    • The Story of General Dann and Maria’s Daughter and the Snow Dog (2005)
  • Ian McEwan, Solar (2011)
  • Naomi Oreskes and Erik M. Conway, The Collapse of Western Civilization: A View from the Future (2014)
  • Nathaniel Rich, Odds Against Tomorrow (2014)
  • Kim Stanley Robinson
    • Science in the Capital trilogy
      • Forty Signs of Rain (2004)
      • Fifty Degrees Below (2005)
      • Sixty Days and Counting (2007)
      • Green Earth (2015) [compressed version of Science in the Capital trilogy]
  • Ilija Trojanow, The Lamentations of Zeno (2011/2016)
  • George Turner, The Sea and the Summer (1987)
  • Claire Vaye Watkins, Gold Fame Citrus (2015)

Sci-fi Cli-fi

A perhaps unnecessary, perhaps controversial, category, but I find it useful to separate these works from the ones above. Think of them “hard” sci-fi, if that helps.

  • Stephen Baxter
    • Flood (2008)
    • Ark (2009)
  • David Brin, Earth (1990)
  • Kim Stanley Robinson
    • Mars trilogy
      • Red Mars (1992)
      • Green Mars (1993)
      • Blue Mars (1996)
    • 2312 (2012)
    • Aurora (2015)

Pre-1960

The 1960 cut-off reflects the fact that the conversation about the environment and climate shifted dramatically during the 1960s, in large part due to the publication of works like Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring (1965), Charles David Keeling’s carbon measurements at Mauna Loa, the “Keeling curve” (1960), and Paul Ehrlich’s The Population Bomb (1968).

  • John Christopher, The End of Grass (1956)
  • E.M. Forster, “The Machine Stops” (1909)
  • Richard Jefferies, After London (1885)
  • Olaf Stapledon
    • Last and First Men (1933)
    • Star Maker (1937)
  • George R. Stewart, Earth Abides (1949)
  • H.G. Wells
    • The Time Machine (1895)
    • The Shape of Things to Come (1933)

Affilates

Selections from a potentially infinite list — ecological utopias, post-apocalyptic tales, other-earth science fiction, etc — that could be studied alongside works that are more explicitly about climate. For more, see Gerry Canavan’s wonderful annotated list of “SF works (very broadly defined) that stake out some position on on questions of futurity and the environment” at the end of the collection he co-edited with Kim Stanley Robinson, Green Planets (2014).

  • Tobias Buckell
    • Arctic Rising (2012)
    • Hurricane Fever (2014)
  • Ernest Callenbach, Ecotopia (1975)
  • Frank Herbert, Dune (1965)
  • J. M. Ledgard, Submergence (2011)
  • Chang-Rae Lee, On Such a Full Sea (2014)
  • Cormac McCarthy, The Road (2006)
  • China Miéville
    • Railsea (2012)
    • “Three Moments of an Explosion” (2015)
  • Marge Piercy, Woman on the Edge of Time (1976)
  • Richard Powers, Gain (1998)
  • Emily St. John Mandel, Station Eleven (2014)
  • Will Self, The Book of Dave (2006)
  • Jeff VanderMeer, Southern Reach Trilogy (2014)
    • Annihilation
    • Authority
    • Acceptance
  • Jeanette Winterson, The Stone Gods (1997)