In recent years, mainstream fiction authors—Rumaan Alam in Leave the World Behind, Lydia Millet in A Children’s Bible, among others—have explored humankind’s effect on the planet and imagined ways forward through a dying world. Speculative fiction has always wrestled with these ideas, says Gemma Creffield, managing editor of Angry Robot Books. “People expect in their fiction what they’re worried about in their lives,” she says. “These stories drive home the point that if we don’t put steps in place now, these apocalyptic situations could be where we end up.”
Several forthcoming books explore environmental catastrophes chillingly reminiscent of our own.
Preemie Mohamed. ECW, Sept.
In this novella by Mohamed (Beneath the Rising), which PW said “packs a punch,” a young Canadian woman is infected by a mind-altering parasite that’s ripping through the human survivors of a climate disaster. When she’s accepted into a mysterious university, far from the privations of her community, she struggles with the prospect of leaving her loved ones behind.
Sarah Blake. Algonquin, Feb. 2022
Blake’s novel describes a future in which a climate apocalypse has caused trees to shed enough pollen to poison the air, forcing humanity to retreat into sealed domes. When someone begins slashing through the domes, exposing survivors to the unbreathable air, a disaffected mother becomes fixated on the killer.
Calder Szewczak. Angry Robot, out now.
In Szewczak’s novel, an anti-natalist movement has sprung up in response to resource scarcity and imposed a strict population-control measure: for each birth, one person must be put to death. In a reverse “Sophie’s choice,” a young woman must decide which of her mothers to select for the so-called Offset ceremony: the one she loves or the one she hates, a professor working on a mission to save the planet.
Neal Stephenson. Morrow, Nov.
Stephenson meshes geopolitical conflict and climate disaster, imagining a world in which the greenhouse effect has set off a perfect storm of hurricanes, rising sea levels, floods, stifling heat, and fast-spreading pandemics. One man thinks he has the solution, but others fear the impact may be more than humanity can withstand.
Alison Stine. Mira, Oct.
Stine’s novel, which PW’s review called a “painful, thought-provoking apocalypse noir,” takes place in a world in which global leaders have agreed to stop producing plastic, rendering it a precious commodity. The narrative centers on a diverse cast of characters, including a mother determined to rescue her child from a plastic-recycling sweatshop.