[Editor's note: I'm a volunteer advisor to Arizona State University's Center for Science and the Imagination, and Joey Eschrich is a colleague of mine there; I invited him to write up his latest project, an anthology of science fiction about climate change.]
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In a wide-ranging interview with CCCB Lab, Kim Stanley Robinson (previously) discusses the origin of his climate-inspired, critical science fiction, which envisions futures in which the climate catastrophe arrives and precipitates the long-overdue crisis of capitalism.
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Earth’s climate functions as its life support system. That system is under heavy threat from over seven billion people and the bleeding heat of industry: as jungle and forest are rendered into farmland; greenhouse gases belch and fume, destabilizing the environment, shrinking biodiversity, pushing the limits of the Earth's natural mechanisms.
2016 was the hottest year in the modern temperature record. Climate change is a long-term issue on a massive scale – from shrinking glaciers, changes in rainfall patterns, severe heat waves and other irreversible conditions. The worldwide scientific community has issued warnings for years about the present and future impacts of climate change linked to fossil fuel use.
Earth faces unprecedented challenges caused by human agency, yet here we stand, like a deer in headlights, knowing something big and bad is coming, too dazzled to do anything to stop it.
Science fiction has long been the literature that speculates on scientific change while reflecting contemporary societal concerns.
Climate change is happening now, and we need a literature of now to address its issues. As glaciers melt, corals bleach, typhoons kill and forest fires rage, a new genre called climate fiction has emerged from science fiction to stand out on its own. Climate fiction focuses on anthropogenic climate change rather than natural unstoppable ecological catastrophes, such as supervolcanos, solar flares or large, Earth impacting meteorites. And most importantly, climate fiction uses real scientific data to translate climate change from the abstract to the cultural, enabling readers to vicariously experience threats and effects they might be expected to encounter across their own lifetimes. Read the rest
Arizona State University's Imagination and Climate Futures Initiative held a short story contest to write "climate fiction," judged by Kim Stanley Robinson and others; now the best stories have been collected in a free downloadable ebook that includes a forward by Robinson, and an interview with Paolo Bacigalupi. Read the rest