What The Last of Us, Snowpiercer, and “Climate Fiction” Gets Wrong

by The Insights

Still, her research suggests that climate stories that use a positive framework — especially those that focus on resilience or innovation — might be able to inspire readers to take action. He concedes that examples of non-dystopian climate fiction are rare, but he points to Barbara Kingsolver’s Flight Behavior or Clara Hume’s Back to the Garden as promising examples. (To this I would also add stories like Trail of Lightning by Rebecca Roanhorse, A Psalm for the Wild-Built by Becky Chambers, Grist’s ongoing “Imagine 2200” project, or just about any novel by Kim Stanley Robinson).

Schneider-Mayerson believes climate fiction shouldn’t be the focus of criticism. “The real problem is that the vast majority of fiction published today fails to acknowledge the reality of climate change. Climate fiction is such a small part of everything read today. It is valid and valuable. to criticize it and wonder what it could do differently, but the bulk of the criticism should go to non-climate fiction that portrays the natural world as a stable and reliable backdrop for human affairs,” he says. “The reality is that these works are basically fantasy now.”

Every academic I talk to harbors the hope – some more, some less – that there are forms of environmental art that might succeed in shaping the public imagination for the better. But they’re equally clear that “cli-fi” is certainly not the panacea that was promised, and that as long as it continues to operate in a relentless doom mode, it will never live up to its potential. . Perhaps the first step to better climate fiction, then, is to stop clinging to the kind of wishful thinking that argues that a novel can save the world; be lucid about the tangible impact we can expect from a paperback.

Here I remember Socrates, who suggests in Plato’s Republic that there is no place for poets in a well-run city. Socrates’ quibbles with poetry are manifold, but the core of his objection is that literature gives its audience the false sense of having taken real action – it gives readers the sense of war without the risk of a fight, the feeling of love without the vagaries of romanticism. In other words, the problem with a certain type of literature is that it gives us the feeling that we have really done something noble, when in fact we have done nothing more noble than to sit on the sofa. and read a book.

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