“It’s not climate change- it’s everything change.” -Margaret Atwood
This is an anthology of science fiction that deals with climate change, or cli-fi as it’s sometimes called. These stories take place all over the world and demonstrate different ways global warming will change human lives in the future. Some of the stories have hopeful endings, some are depressing.
In the first story, “Sunshine State” (by Adam Flynn and Andrew Dana Hudson), Ramses is a negotiator for insurance companies trying to convince people to move from areas prone to flooding. It starts out strong with rich descriptions. I liked the detail that club goers wear mosquito nets over their skimpy clothing. However, it feels like they tried to pack in too much information. It’s full of info dumps and the ending felt rushed, more like an outline than a proper story towards the end. It would have been much better if it were a longer story.
“Shrinking Sinking Land” by Kelly Cowley takes place in a drowning version of England. Our main character is Flea, who is trying to fish her mum out of a sinkhole. They not only have to deal with super storms in this world, but also mutant rats. I loved the irony that right after we’re told Flea never lets her guard down, she’s surprised by a squirrel. I think a better title for this would be “Three Ways an Umbrella Can Save Your Life” as that’s the most memorable theme in the story. It’s very funny, but also heart breaking. My favorite story in this collection.
“Victor and the Fish” by Matthew S. Henry takes place in the western United States where wild fires have become common place. It’s a world in which any life, including invasive species, is precious. It’s a bit depressing that the characters are used to this, but people can adapt to anything. Our main character wants to bring cutthroat trout back from extinction which I can relate to since I often went fishing with my dad growing up.
In “Acqua Alta” by Ashley Bevilacqua Anglin, Venice is now underwater, but a replica of it has been built for tourists to visit. I like the description of hair “that wants to move like we’re underwater even when it’s dry.” One minor complaint is that we’re told the narrator is eleven years old, although she acts like she’s older than this.
In “Wonder of the World” by Kathryn Blume, snow is a danger because it happens so rarely, people don’t know how to handle it. This is one of the optimistic stories. We’re told one bright side to the apocalypse is our lives would be less complex and we wouldn’t have to worry about working long hours, commuting, and paying the bills.
“Masks” by Stirling Davenport takes place in Beijing, where wearing masks to protect against air pollution is part of daily life. Also, dogs have become scarce because people use them for meat.
“On Darwin Tides” by Shauna O’Meara takes place in Malaysia where American tourists come to see the coral reef before it’s gone. The main character is a Sama Dilaut, or sea gypsy. With dwindling resources, people ignore no fishing zones. After all, who wants to save an endangered species if it means you’d starve to death? They resent orangutans since Americans send money to save their lives, but not the lives of people.
“Standing Still” by Lindsay Redifer takes place in Madagascar. The children have a hard time trying to picture things like guitars and televisions since they don’t have them anymore. A good story, although I found it to be a bit too preachy in places. “Into the Storm” by Yakos Spiliotopoulos takes place in Ottawa and predicts the U.S. will have a reality TV star for President.
There’s an interview with Paolo Bacigalupi at the end which makes some good points. Here’s one of his quotes: “Our marketplaces often solve the wrong problems. They don’t tend to be interested in solving root causes. They tend to put Band-Aids on symptoms. That’s why you see people wearing dust masks in Beijing and other heavily polluted cities. You don’t get rid of the factories or deal with the air pollution. You give everybody dust masks, and you sell them and then you accessorize them and then you make them a brand name item and you make a lot of money off of them. That’s kind of what capitalist markets do.”