4 new science fiction novels exploring the consequences of climate change

Many of us have been saying for years that science fiction has an important role to play in helping us understand the dangers of climate change. To survive with what’s to come, we will need more than creativity – we will need imagination and a willingness to face frightening developments with our eyes open.

Let’s talk science fiction and fantasy novels about the environment and climate change

So, it is welcome, and even exciting, to see so many new accounts that include a thoughtful and realistic look at environmental destruction. Rather than treating the subject as shocking, or as an occasion for Roland Emmerich-style disaster stories, these books accept the inevitability of climate disruption and challenge the reader to get used to the unimaginable. Most of all, these books use the backdrop of climate disruption to tell the good stories you want to get lost in.

“The Mountain at Sea” by Ray Nayler (MCD) It has been described as a dystopian environmental thriller, but it’s something slower and more contemplative. At the book’s opening, marine biologist Ha Nguyen is invited to a secluded island called Con Dao to study a newly discovered octopus community that has developed what appears to be its writing, culture, and even religion. But the creatures are threatened with extinction at the hands of humans. Ha’s only companions are Evrim, the world’s first conscious android and a cyborg soldier. Meanwhile, a man named Eko is forced into slavery aboard a trawler in a semi-important ocean, and a mysterious woman hires a pirate named Rustam to do an impossible task.

Nayler’s poignant and mind-expanding beginnings are filled with artificial intelligence, with varying levels of alertness, along with a mysterious octopus community. The juxtaposition of these non-human minds raises big questions about the nature of consciousness. At one point, Ha suggested that the statement that proves complex thinking is not “I think therefore I am”, but “I think therefore that I doubt that I am.”

4 charming books from the world of science fiction and fantasy

in “Saturnalia” (unnamed press) Stephanie Feldman uses environmental collapse as the backdrop to a chilling story about chemistry and corruption. At the center of the story is Nina, who has dropped out of the elite Saturnia club and now has to sneak inside to steal a very special chest during the club’s corrupt Saturnalia party. Nina is forced not only to confront her former friends, but also to discover how far some alchemists would like to go to survive the apocalypse.

The constant awareness of a burning world gives an extra layer of awe as a killer monster hunts Nina, who finds something equally brutal inside the chest she’s trying to steal. But even as Nina reveals the depths to which some of her ex-boyfriends would like to descend, she also rekindles one friendship she knows she easily dumped. (Though, it was disconcerting that the book’s trans character would be referred to by her former name and pronoun in pre-transition memories.) “Saturnalia” is stunningly creative and riddled with spine-tingling danger.

If you want a post-climate change novel that goes weird, look no further “Meet Us by the Raging Sea” (Farrar, Straus, and Giroux)by Akil Kumarasamy. The story is a kind of multi-layered dream sequence that asks big questions about civilization, memory, and survival. Ada mourns the death of her mother while training an artificial intelligence with disturbing curiosity. She also translates a strange novel written in Tamil about girls studying medicine and creating new religions. Other subplots include self-driving cars, bizarre art projects, and memory experiments.

The specter of climate change is always present in Kumarasamy’s densely populated world, from the “carbon score” that governs everyone’s use of resources to the vivid descriptions of girls chewing a single peanut for 20 minutes during a famine. Kumarasamy’s exquisitely written book captures the horror of living in bewildering turmoil.

The disaster at RB Lemberg “Impairment” (tachyon) Of the mysterious type: a fallen star sleeping under the ocean near the city of Gili-gu, tied to the dormant volcano on the nearby mountain – but now the star is turbulent and the water may soon take over the city and everyone in it. The introverted poet named Erígra Lilún and the arrogant young “star keeper” named Ranra are the only ones who can understand what’s going on.

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There’s a lot to cherish in “The Unbalancing,” a stand-alone novel in Lemberg’s Birdverse series. The relationship between Lilún and Ranra beautifully embodies the intensity and tenderness of a new relationship that can turn into something beautiful. The World Building is brimming with deep lore and casual weirdness, and the Lemberg Magic System is appropriately wild and poetic. But most of all, the novel It offers lessons in survival when complex, barely understood systems begin to fall apart.

Charlie Jane Anders is the author of “Victories greater than death” And the “Dreams greater than heartbreak“The first two books in the youth trilogy. Her other books include”The city in the middle of the night” And the “All the birds in the sky. “

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