I had grand plans for this Sci-Fi Month and I have utterly, utterly failed to carry them out. So, as a last gasp effort, I looked at my recent reading for inspiration. As it turns out, without quite meaning to, I’ve ended up reading two climate change-related sci-fi novels back to back this month. As a genre, ‘cli-fi’ (ew) is very much in vogue so here are ten reads to get you started if you haven’t already dipped your toe into the apocalyptic waters, so to speak.
In a post-war, post-crash, post-disaster, post-everything world, the environmental-action trawler Kapital scours the earth’s oceans for its mysteriously missing sistership, The Massive. Captain Callum Israel, a man who has dedicated his life to the ocean, now must ask himself—as our planet dies—what it means to be an environmentalist after the world’s ended. Callum and his crew will come up against pirates, rebels, murderers, and thieves as they struggle to remain noble toward their cause. Can you save a planet that’s already doomed?
Conspiracies abound in this gripping graphic novel series where fresh water is a luxury item and no one is quite what they seem.
In a world prone to violent flooding, Britain, ravaged 20 years earlier by a deadly virus, has been largely cut off from the rest of the world. Survivors are few and far between, most of them infertile. Children, the only hope for the future, are a rare commodity.
For 22-year-old Roza Polanski, life with her family in their isolated tower block is relatively comfortable. She’s safe, happy enough. But when a stranger called Aashay Kent arrives, everything changes. At first he’s a welcome addition, his magnetism drawing the Polanskis out of their shells, promising an alternative to a lonely existence. But Roza can’t shake the feeling that there’s more to Aashay than he’s letting on. Is there more to life beyond their isolated bubble? Is it true that children are being kidnapped? And what will it cost to find out?
A dark story with an oddly light tone that serves to make it all the more sinister.
Lalla has grown up sheltered from the chaos amid the ruins of civilization. But things are getting more dangerous outside. People are killing each other for husks of bread, and the police are detaining anyone without an identification card. On her sixteenth birthday, Lalla’s father decides it’s time to use their escape route–a ship he’s built that is only big enough to save five hundred people.
But the utopia her father has created isn’t everything it appears. There’s more food than anyone can eat, but nothing grows; more clothes than anyone can wear, but no way to mend them; and no-one can tell her where they are going.
A dark and disturbing version of London as seen through the eyes of a sheltered teenager (thus the tone of the book itself is not dark and disturbing).
It’s November of 2020, and the world is freezing over, each day colder than the last. There’s snow in Israel; the Thames is overflowing; and an iceberg separated from the Fjords in Norway is expected to drift just off the coast of Scotland. As ice water melts into the Atlantic, frenzied London residents evacuate by the thousands for warmer temperatures down south–but not Dylan. Grieving and ready to build life anew, he heads north to bury his mother’s and grandmother’s ashes on the Scottish islands where they once lived.
Hundreds of miles away, twelve-year-old Estella and her survivalist mother, Constance, scrape by in the snowy, mountainous Highlands, preparing for a record-breaking winter. Living out of a caravan, they spend their days digging through landfills, searching for anything with restorative and trading value. When Dylan arrives in their caravan park in the middle of the night, life changes course for Estella and Constance. Though the weather worsens, his presence brings a new light to daily life, and when the ultimate disaster finally strikes, they’ll all be ready.
A quiet, calm novel that puts the T from LGBT at the core of an intimate story about the end of the world.
The snow doesn’t stop. It falls and falls and falls. Until it lies three miles thick across the whole of the Earth. Six billion people have died. A few thousand survive. But those few thousand need help, they need support, they need organising, governing. And so the lies begin.
Spoiler alert: this book does not live up to it’s potential 🙁
Coursing through an eternal winter, on an icy track wrapped around the frozen planet Earth, there travels a train that never stops. This is Snowpiercer: one thousand and one carriages long. The last bastion of human civilization. Or is it?
A second train also travels through the snow on the same track, its inhabitants living in constant fear of crashing into the first Snowpiercer. And from this second train, a small group of scavenging explorers now emerges, risking their lives in the deadly cold…
I can’t tell you how bad I think these comics are, but they are really flipping well reviewed by everyone who isn’t me! I love the idea, but hate the execution.
Toxic Conditions/Nuclear Fallout
It’s in the rain…and just one drop will kill you.
They don’t believe it at first. Crowded in Zach’s kitchen, Ruby and the rest of the partygoers laugh at Zach’s parents’ frenzied push to get them all inside as it starts to drizzle. But then the radio comes on with the warning, “It’s in the rain! It’s fatal, it’s contagious, and there’s no cure.”
Two weeks later, Ruby is alone. Anyone who’s been touched by rain or washed their hands with tap water is dead. The only drinkable water is quickly running out. Ruby’s only chance for survival is a treacherous hike across the country to find her father-if he’s even still alive.
I really struggled with the main character in this, but I can’t deny how chilling the premise of the book is.
Thousands of them have lived underground. They’ve lived there so long, there are only legends about people living anywhere else. Such a life requires rules. Strict rules. There are things that must not be discussed. Like going outside. Never mention you might like going outside.
Or you’ll get what you wish for.
The first book in this trilogy is one of my best library finds from the last few years. Read it – you won’t be disappointed.
The year is 2033. The world has been reduced to rubble. Humanity is nearly extinct and the half-destroyed cities have become uninhabitable through radiation. Beyond their boundaries, they say, lie endless burned-out deserts and the remains of splintered forests. Survivors still remember the past greatness of humankind, but the last remains of civilisation have already become a distant memory.
Man has handed over stewardship of the Earth to new life-forms. Mutated by radiation, they are better adapted to the new world. A few score thousand survivors live on, not knowing whether they are the only ones left on Earth, living in the Moscow Metrothe biggest air-raid shelter ever built. Stations have become mini-statelets, their people uniting around ideas, religions, water-filters, or the need to repulse enemy incursion.
VDNKh is the northernmost inhabited station on its line, one of the Metro’s best stations and secure. But a new and terrible threat has appeared. Artyom, a young man living in VDNKh, is given the task of penetrating to the heart of the Metro to alert everyone to the danger and to get help. He holds the future of his station in his hands, the whole Metroand maybe the whole of humanity.
I’ve actually only read Metro 2033, but I’ll get around to the others one day. She said optimistically.
On a searing summer Friday, Eddie Chapman has been stuck for hours in a traffic jam. There are accidents along the highway, but ambulances and police are conspicuously absent. When he decides to abandon his car and run home, he sees that the trees along the edge of a stream have been burnt, and the water in the stream bed is gone. Something is very wrong. When he arrives home, the power is out and there is no running water. The pipes everywhere, it seems, have gone dry. Eddie and his wife, Laura, find themselves thrust together with their neighbours while a sense of unease thickens in the stifling night air.
Thirst takes place in the immediate aftermath of a mysterious disaster – the Chapmans and their neighbours suffer the effects of the heat, their thirst, and the terrifying realisation that no one may be coming to help. As violence rips through the community, Eddie and Laura are forced to recall secrets from their past and question their present humanity. In crisp and convincing prose, Ben Warner compels readers to do the same. What might you do to survive?
Another missed opportunity, in my opinion, with a poorly-explored but solid premise.