EDN Spotlight: Climate Fiction | Earth Day Network

We know that climate change is a global crisis, yet it is still not a widely addressed topic. News outlets do not give the topic enough coverage, and surveys show the general public remains confused about the facts.

The emerging genre of climate fiction is helping to take on the subject. Storytelling is always a good way to engage an audience, so it’s no surprise that stories about the consequences of climate change are resonating with audiences. Writer Dan Bloom is credited with coming up with the “cli-fi” moniker in 2007, and it’s a genre that’s grown since then.

There’s “Solar” by Ian McEwan, “Flight Behavior” Barbara Kingsolver, “Barkskins” by Annie Proulx, and the Hugo-award winning “The Windup Girl,” by Paolo Bacigalupi. Margaret Atwood has a cli-fi trilogy: “Oryx and Crake,” “The Year of the Flood,” and “MaddAddam.” There’s even a young adults (YA) sub-genre of titles taking on the theme.

Some books you may have already read without making the connection. For years, readers have suggested that “Game of Thrones” — with its ominous “winter is coming” motto — is secretly about climate change, and author George R.R. Martin recently revealed that he sees the connection in his popular book series (the basis for the HBO show). “It’s kind of ironic because I started writing ‘Game of Thrones’ all the way back in 1991, long before anybody was talking about climate change,” Martin told The New York Times. “But there is — in a very broad sense — there’s a certain parallel there. And the people in Westeros are fighting their individual battles over power and status and wealth. And those are so distracting them that they’re ignoring the threat of ‘winter is coming,’ which has the potential to destroy all of them and to destroy their world. And there is a great parallel there to, I think, what I see this planet doing here, where we’re fighting our own battles.”

“Nothing As it Was,” a collection of short fiction about climate change from Retreat West Books was released with a mission in mind; its publishers generously donated proceeds from book sales to Earth Day Network. They told us they want readers to share what the characters feel and then be compelled to take action to help avert global disaster.

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