Eight climate fiction, or cli-fi, books to consider before Cop28

Fiction has always been a route to experience the unexperienced.

In the realm of climate change, it may be a challenge to wrap our minds around what a future devastated by environmental catastrophes can look like.

Novelists have been using fiction to explore these circumstances, ranging from the post-apocalyptic to the political tensions that arise with a scarcity of resources.

Of course, these are rarely affixed to scientific truths, but yet impart the honest gravity that looms in the near future as we continue to stress the planet.

In the run-up to Cop28, we’ve picked eight books that envision a reality governed by climate change.

These cli-fi books are speculative, but draw from the realities of climate change, underscoring the importance of implementing policies to better the Earth’s health.

Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler (1993)

eight climate fiction, or cli-fi, books to consider before cop28

Octavia Butler’s 1993 book has chilling similarities with the present times. Photo: Four Walls Eight Windows

Butler’s classic dystopian novel takes place in a 2024 that is wrought by disease. Global warming has ravaged the planet, disrupting food supplies, and causing water shortages and violence.

Society outside a few walled communities have descended into chaos; and to make matters worse, the US has a president who is more interested in spouting strongman slogans than bettering the lives of his people.

Written in 1993, Parable of the Sower has chilling similarities with present times. The novel is a cautionary tale that is a riveting classic of the cli-fi genre.

How Beautiful we Were by Imbolo Mbue (2021)

eight climate fiction, or cli-fi, books to consider before cop28

Imbolo Mbue’s book is set in a fictional African settlement. Photo: Random House

The pivoting point of Mbue’s novel is an oilspill by an American firm that plummets the fictional African settlement of Kosawa into turmoil.

Disease spreads across the village as a result of the spill, and Kanga, dubbed the village mad man, starts rallying a revolution.

American War by Omar El Akkad (2017)

eight climate fiction, or cli-fi, books to consider before cop28

American War by Omar El Akkad. Photo: Knopf

El Akkad’s book is set in the US in the latter half of this century. In a landscape suffering from challenges brought on by climate change and sickness, civil war has broken out over fossil fuels.

The novel revolves around Sarat, who is six when the war breaks out, and her family is soon forced to live with other displaced people at Camp Patience.

After meeting an enigmatic official, she soon finds herself being turned into an instrument of war.

War Girls by Tochi Onyebuchi (2019)

eight climate fiction, or cli-fi, books to consider before cop28

Tochi Onyebuchi’s War Girls is a young adult novel set in Nigeria. Photo: Razorbill

Onyebuchi’s young adult novel is set in a post-apocalyptic Nigeria. The year is 2172 and clashes between ethnic groups have surged over the mineral chukwu.

Nuclear fallout and global warming have devastated the world, and much of the population has been subject to cyberisation as a result of war injuries and radiation.

The novel’s story is told between the perspectives of two residents of the War Girls camp, which houses former child soldiers of the Biafran separatists.

The Drowned World by J G Ballard (1962)

eight climate fiction, or cli-fi, books to consider before cop28

The Drowned World is set in 22nd century. Photo: Liveright

A classic within the cli-fi genre, Ballard’s novel is set in the 22nd century.

Solar radiation and a debilitated ionosphere have raised sea levels and turned a large part of the planet to a tropical climate. The two poles become some of the Earth’s few inhabitable places.

In the middle of this, a science expedition embarks to the flooded city of London to catalogue the flora and fauna, and it is then that the novel takes a strange and fevered turn.

The Ministry for the Future by Kim Stanley Robinson (2020)

eight climate fiction, or cli-fi, books to consider before cop28

The Ministry for the Future by Kim Stanley Robinson. Photo: Orbit

A novel that is as informative as it is gripping, mainly due to author Robinson’s efforts to use scientific accuracy.

The book revolves around the international Ministry for the Future, established under the Paris Agreement with the aim of ensuring the rights of future generations.

The book follows Mary Murphy, who heads the organisation, and Frank May, a US aid worker who is left traumatised after a deadly heat wave in India.

Drawing on several historical figures and events, this one is a must read. Robinson has also written other climate change-related novels, including New York 2140 and 2312.

Bewilderment by Richard Powers (2021)

eight climate fiction, or cli-fi, books to consider before cop28

Richard Powers’s Bewilderment follows an astrophysicist and his family. Photo: W W Norton Company

Shortlisted for the 2021 Booker Prize, Bewilderment by Richard Powers presents the tensions of family life within a landscape of environmental debilitation.

It follows astrophysicist Theo Byrne and his nine-year son Robin.

Refusing to give his son psychoactive medication for his Asperger’s syndrome and obsessive compulsive disorder, he instead resorts to using an experimental form of therapy that uses neurofeedback, which focuses on the brain’s neuronal activity.

With the moving relationship between father and son, the novel is an emotional and poignant read, replete with striking visuals of a devastated world.

Termination Shock by Neal Stephenson (2021)

eight climate fiction, or cli-fi, books to consider before cop28

Termination Shock by Neal Stephenson touches on political nuances that come about with climate change. Photo: William Morrow

Stephenson’s book centres on a solar geo-engineering plan. The scheme is conceived by a billionaire in the oil industry who fires sulphur into the air to cool the planet and reflect sunlight back to space.

But how will it affect the planet and its population? The novel touches on political nuances that come about with climate change.

It features characters including the Queen of the Netherlands, Frederika Mathilde Louisa Saskia, and granddaughter of Queen Beatrix, as well as Deep “Laks” Singh, who becomes embroiled in clashes along the Line of Actual Control on the border between China and India.

News Related


Discover the Health Benefits of Valencia Orange: Serving Sizes, Nutrition Facts, and Concerns Curated by Nutrition Professionals.

Valencia orange image Perspective from Roseane M Silva Master in Health Sciences, Bachelor in Nutrition · 7 years of experience · Brazil Possible Side Effects People who are allergic to ... Read more »

Kibsons at the heart of the better food systems debate bound for Cop28

Leading grocery delivery company Kibsons says it is already answering the call for greener production processes as food security and sourcing enter the Cop28 spotlight later this month. The UAE ... Read more »

Government passes draft budget law for FY2024

AMMAN — The government on Wednesday endorsed the draft general budget law for 2024 with estimated public revenues of JD10.3 billion, marking an increase of 8.9 per cent compared with ... Read more »

New forecasted capital expenditure for fiscal year 2024 stands at JD73 million — Gov’t

AMMAN — The new forecasted capital expenditure for the fiscal year 2024 stands at JD73.317 million, according to the 2024 public budget draft law. The government allocated JD1.729 billion as ... Read more »

Historical insights: Evolution of archaeological research in Jordan from post-World War I to 1960s

AMMAN — The post World War I period marks the beginning of scholarly research in Jordan. During the British Mandate in Jordan, the Department of Antiquities in Amman was founded ... Read more »

No fruit acids, whitening creams: UAE authority issues guidelines for salon cosmetics

The Sharjah City Municipality has issued a set of guidelines for the use of cosmetic products in hair salons and beauty centres. The authority urges salons to stick to these ... Read more »

JCSND announces pledge, launch of paper on socioeconomic welfare for refugees, host communities

AMMAN — The Jordan Civil Society Network for Displacement (JCSND) announced a pledge under the UN Global Refugee Forum 2023 to leverage the socioeconomic welfare of refugee populations and host ... Read more »
Top List in the World