All of a sudden, everyone from literary giants (Michel Faber, David Mitchell) to small presses and self-publishers are putting out near-future novels that create scenarios of how climate change will shape the lives of individuals and societies. Their conclusions are not pretty: these fictional futures – which often reference current science and technology, and extrapolate from the darker expert predictions – are grim.
How fictional is this growing new genre? Does it reflect our fears, our real-life futures, or a bit of both? And is it possible that storytellers might be able to create empathy and affect change in ways that scientists can’t?
Jane Rawson wrote the novel A wrong turn at the Office of Unmade Lists, published by Transit Lounge and shortlisted for an Aurealis Award for science fiction. Ed Wright at the Australian said the book had ‘taken risks with plausibility and triumphed’ while the Adelaide Advertiser’s Patrick Allington said it was ‘one of the stranger debut novels I have read … a wacky mediation on loss and grief, on creativity, on treating the planet badly and making the best of things’.
James Bradley is a writer and critic.
Alice Robinson is a lecturer in creative writing at Melbourne’s NMIT. She has a PhD in creative writing from Victoria University and her work has been published widely. Anchor Point is Alice’s first novel.
Tony Birch is the author of the books Shadowboxing (2006), Father's Day (2009), Blood (2011), shortlisted for the Miles Franklin literary award, and The Promise (2014). His new novel, Ghost River, will be released in October 2015. Both his fiction and nonfiction writing has been published widely in literary magazines and anthologies, both in Australia and internationally. He is currently the inaugural Bruce McGuinness Research Fellow within the Moondani Balluk Centre at Victoria University.