The Bone Clocks, David Mitchell
Don’t judge The Bone Clocks’ simple plot, which is a chronology of the protagonist Holly Skyes’ life between 1984 and 2048, because Mitchell’s mastery of story and language will ensure that you’ll be hooked on this book from first page to last. Moving as far away from his previous hit novel, Cloud Atlas, as possible, The Bone Clocks is a great introduction to cli-fi.
The MaddAddam Trilogy, Margaret Atwood
Booker-prize winner Margaret Atwood’s MaddAddam trilogy deals with climate change in a radical way. After being disillusioned with ineffective solutions to climate change, Crake, a brilliant psychopath, comes up with the idea of reengineering humans to save the planet. His species of humans subsist on grass and abandon the industrial society we’ve created. Crake is far from done though, and his plans take a sinister turn in the next phase when he… Actually, we might have given away too much! Just start reading this outstanding trilogy. You won’t regret it.
The Windup Girl, Paolo Bacigalupi
Paolo Bacigalupi is widely considered the father of cli-fi and his debut novel, The Windup Girl, ticks off all the boxes when it comes to dystopian fiction. In Bacigalupi’s imagined future, Bangkok takes centre stage, where the biggest battle is consuming enough calories to stay alive. The problem here is that big corporations control food supply after their quest for supremacy took a biological turn. Enter calorie man Anderson Lake, a seed bank, genetically modified elephants called megodonts, corporate corruption, and the threat of global starvation lurking at every corner. Talk about a compelling page-turner.
2312, Kim Stanley Robinson
In 2312, an advanced human race exists on several planets and moons. What turns out to be a simple death on Mercury sets off a chain of events that lead Swan Er Hong, who designs worlds in the solar system, to consider destroying them all. The book will make you wonder if the price of colonising other planets, when your own is slowly perishing, is too high. There’s precious little we can add without giving away the plot but rest assured, 2312is a satisfying read for anyone curious enough to dip their toes in cli-fi.
Odds Against Tomorrow, Nathaniel RichIn Rich’s Odds Against Tomorrow, mathematician Mitchell Zukor, who specialises in predicting and calculating disaster, is hired by a billionaire who plans to sell these worst-case scenarios for a fortune. The truly great (or worrying, depending on how you see it) thing about this novel is that it was finished just before Hurricane Sandy hit New York City. The book is fast-paced, has just about three characters at play and is the closest to replicating cli-fi as you’ve seen it in movies.
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