Consider yourself a sci-fi fan? Then it’s probably time to try its cousin, climate fiction, or ‘cli-fi’ as it’s affectionately called. 

Years of rolling ecological disasters have brought the issue of climate change to the forefront, giving birth to this new and important sub-genre.

With cli-fi exploding in popularity, it’s hard to know where to start. But don’t worry, we’ve got you covered.

Here are Blot’s top five cli-fi books to put on your Summer reading list.

1. The Ministry for the Future by Kim Stanley Robinson

Chosen by Barack Obama as one of the best books of 2020, this gutsy novel uses fictional eyewitness accounts to tell the story of how climate change will affect us all.

Straying away from the post-apocalyptic setting that many cli-fi novels are accustomed to, Robinson creates a sense of a startling future that is almost upon us.

However, the novel’s greatest triumph is how the urgency of the climate crisis is presented in a way that leaves readers with hope that we can do something about it.  

2. Parable of the Sower by Octavia E. Butler 

If there’s one thing more frightening than a speculative dystopian novel about the future, it’s one written in the past that has already begun to come true.

Published in 1993, Parable of the Sower imagines California in the 2020’s as a place of anarchy and violence where only the rich and powerful are safe.

One woman with the remarkable power to feel the pain of others transforms everything in this alarmingly accurate dystopia that covers climate change, inequality and racism.

3. American War by Omar El Akaad

Former war correspondent Omar El Akaad’s haunting debut novel imagines what would happen if America were to turn its most devastating policies and weapons upon itself. 

It’s 2074 when the second American Civil War breaks out after southern states rebel against a fossil-fuel ban imposed when extreme flooding leaves Florida submerged.

This terrifyingly plausible novel is an uncomfortable but necessary read and a perfect place to start in the cli-fi sphere.

4. The Water Knife by Paolo Bacigalupi

This genre-bending thriller tells the dark story of a militarised fight over waterrights in Colorado as its river dries up. In his sixth novel, Bacigalupi expertly explores corporate greed, social inequality, deregulation and privatisation.

5. The Overstory by Richard Powers

An exhilarating novel about nine strangers brought together by an unravelling natural disaster.

It explores our power as human beings to either destroy the natural world or redeem it, reminding us that we are all connected and that there is still time to make things right.

The real protagonists of this book are trees, reminding us to cherish the world around us rather than destroying it.

If you liked this post then read What happens to books that don’t find a reader? or Climate catastrophe through imperialism: Dune’s most important message next. 

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Sophie Olejnik

Sophie Olejnik

Sophie is a trainee journalist at The University of Sheffield who specialises in feature writing. She has a keen passion for books and would love to work in the publishing industry in the future. She’s particularly passionate about how our ever-changing planet is represented in the books we read.

Favourite genres: Thrillers and Contemporary Fiction.