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 Ghost River, which won the 2016 Victorian Premier’s Literary Award for Indigenous Writing, and Blood, which was shortlisted for the Miles Franklin Award. He is also the author of Shadowboxing, and three short story collections – Father’s Day, The Promise and Common People.
Tony is a frequent contributor to ABC local and national radio, and a regular guest at writers’ festivals. He lives in Melbourne and is a Senior Research Fellow at Victoria University.