Earth Day is coming right up, and there are plenty of ways to celebrate: attend an Earth Day Festival (in St. Louis, earthday365 in Forest Park), commit to taking more public transit, ban plastic from your life, plant a tree, or… read a novel? Indeed! Eco-fiction and cli-fi delve into the issue of the human impact on the environment, and can be affecting and downright terrifying; in other words, perfectly motivating. Reading fiction is a great way to deeply “know” a subject without actually experiencing it, and in the case of catastrophic climate change, is definitely preferable. It is just what's needed to get us out of that gas-guzzling car and onto a bike for good. Here are a few of our suggestions (more on this list):
America Pacifica by Anna North
America Pacifica is an island hundreds of miles off the coast of California, the only warm place left in a world in the grip of a new ice age. Darcy Pern is seventeen, her mother has gone missing, and she must uncover the truth about her disappearance--a quest that soon becomes an investigation into the disturbing origins of America Pacifica itself and its sinister and reclusive leader, a man known only as Tyson. America Pacifica invites comparison to the works of Margaret Atwood and China Mieville, to Cormac McCarthy's The Road for its the touching child-parent relationship, and to Stieg Larsson's Millenium trilogy for its implacable, determined central character.
After the climate wars, a floating city is constructed in the Arctic Circle, a remarkable feat of mechanical and social engineering, complete with geothermal heating and sustainable energy. The city’s denizens have become accustomed to a roughshod new way of living; however, the city is starting to fray along the edges—crime and corruption have set in, the contradictions of incredible wealth alongside direst poverty are spawning unrest, and a new disease called “the breaks” is ravaging the population. When a strange new visitor arrives—a woman riding an orca, with a polar bear at her side—the city is entranced.
The Monkey Wrench Gang by Edward Abbey
Some readers have remarked that the book is more a comic book than a real novel, and it's true that reading this incendiary call to protect the American wilderness requires more than a little of the old willing suspension of disbelief. The story centers on Vietnam veteran George Washington Hayduke III, who returns to the desert to find his beloved canyons and rivers threatened by industrial development. On a rafting trip down the Colorado River, Hayduke joins forces with a cast of true characters, and they wander off to wage war on the big yellow machines, on dam builders and road builders and strip miners. Also be sure to check out the sequel to this book, Hayduke Lives!
The Sheep Look Up by John Brunner
An enduring classic, this book from 1972 offers a dramatic and prophetic look at the potential consequences of the escalating destruction of Earth. In this nightmare society, air pollution is so bad that gas masks are commonplace. Infant mortality is up, and everyone seems to suffer from some form of ailment. The Sheep Look Up is a skillful and frightening political and social commentary that takes its place next to other remarkable works of dystopian literature.
All annotations courtesy of goodreads.com.