Thursday 23 November 2017

Is it Time to Put Climate Change at the Centre of Speculative Fiction?

carbon-run, jg-follansbee, book

Fiction reflects our hopes, fears, and dreams as we live them. Speculative fiction imagines how we'll live these human experiences in the future. Climate change is real and it's affecting our daily lives. It's time speculative writers include the changing climate as an integral part of their storytelling.

Even if you're sceptical of the science, climate change is on everyone's lips. At the very least, the subject is a variation on one of literature's oldest questions: How will the world end? How climate change plays out may become the modern world's version of the Bible's book of Revelations. That makes global warming a compelling theme for any kind of storytelling.

As a writer of speculative fiction, I'm interested in how humans will adapt to a new world where average temperatures are as many as six degrees above the historical average, according to current scientific predictions. Even predictions on the low end will likely result in massive disruptions of life on planet Earth, including human life.

How will we live a decade from now, or a century, or a millennium? Will our species survive?

In Tales From A Warming Planet, a series I've written with climate change as the main theme, human beings live, grow, and fight, as they always have, but in a different environment. In August, I released the first story in the series, a novelette titled The Mother Earth Insurgency. On October 21, 2017, I'll release the second book in the series and the first novel, titled Carbon Run.

jg-follansbee, author

Carbon Run is an exciting thriller set in a dystopian world. Fossil fuels are banned, pirates smuggle oil, and governments erase citizens' identities. Anne Penn, one of the novel's protagonists, dreams of saving an endangered species of birds. When a fire destroys the birds' last home, her beloved father Bill is accused of starting the blaze. Fanatic officer Janine Kilel comes to arrest Anne's father, but Bill escapes, because in the 22nd century, destroying a species means execution. How will Anne find her father in a Russian city where the difference between good and evil is as murky as the choking smog?

All my stories in the Tales series fit into the dystopia, post-apocalyptic, and thriller genres, with a heavy dose of near-future science fiction. I've focused on strong characters, particularly female characters. More strong female lead characters appear in upcoming Tales novels, including City of Ice and Dreams, and Restoration.

A few commentators place these kinds of stories in a new genre, “climate fiction.” The genre's history goes back decades, and today's practitioners include Kim Stanley Robinson, Margaret Atwood, and Barbara Kingsolver. The canon is expanding all the time.

More and more writers are asking: How will we live in a climate-changed world? My work is a small, hopefully entertaining, answer to the question. I hope you'll go along for the journey.

J.G. Follansbee is a writer who also runs a blog. You can follow him on Facebook. The first novel in the series, Carbon Run, is available to buy now. 

What do you think? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

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