Science Fiction and Climate Change

BookScience Fiction and Climate Change

Science Fiction and Climate Change

A Sociological Approach

Liverpool Science Fiction Texts and Studies, 63


March 27th, 2020

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Shortlisted for the British Science Fiction Association Best Non-Fiction Award 2020
Shortlisted for the Locus Science Fiction Foundation Non-Fiction Award 2021
Despite the occasional upsurge of climate change scepticism amongst Anglophone conservative politicians and journalists, there is still a near-consensus amongst climate scientists that current levels of atmospheric greenhouse gas are sufficient to alter global weather patterns to disastrous effect. The resultant climate crisis is simultaneously both a natural and a socio-cultural phenomenon and in this book Milner and Burgmann argue that science fiction occupies a critical location within this nature/culture nexus. Science Fiction and Climate Change takes as its subject matter what Daniel Bloom famously dubbed ‘cli-fi’. It does not, however, attempt to impose a prescriptively environmentalist aesthetic on this sub-genre. Rather, it seeks to explain how a genre defined in relation to science finds itself obliged to produce fictional responses to the problems actually thrown up by contemporary scientific research. Milner and Burgmann adopt a historically and geographically comparatist framework, analysing print and audio-visual texts drawn from a number of different contexts, especially Australia, Britain, Canada, China, Finland, France, Germany, Japan and the United States. Inspired by Williams's cultural materialism, Bourdieu's sociology of culture and Moretti's version of world systems theory, the book builds on Milner’s own Locating Science Fiction to produce a powerfully persuasive study in the sociology of literature.


'[This] volume offers an interesting introductory overview covering a variety of climate fictions... The clear, easily accessible writing style and overall useful introductory nature of the material would definitely recommend the volume as a text for undergraduates studying climate fictions as part of a literary studies or cultural studies curriculum.'
Anya Heise-von der Lippe, Journal of the Fantastic in the Arts

Author Information

Andrew Milner is Professor Emeritus of English and Comparative Literature at Monash University. J.R. Burgmann is a PhD student in Creative Writing at Monash University.

Table of Contents

Table of Contents
Section TitlePagePrice
1. Ice, Fire and Flood: A Short Pre-history of Climate Fiction11
1. Flood Narratives: Gilgamesh and Noah13
2. Flood Narratives in Modern Science Fiction15
3. Ice and Fire24
4. Conclusion30
2. A Theoretical Interlude33
1. Cli-fi and SF33
2. Ecocriticism, Anthropocentrism and the Anthropocene38
3. Cli-fi and the Sociology of Literature45
4. Towards an Ideal Typology of Climate Fictions50
5. Narrative Strategies and Tactics58
3. Climate Fiction and the World Literary System61
1. Heat and The Sea and Summer61
2. Science Fiction and the World Literary System65
3. Climate Fiction and the World Literary System73
4. The Classical Dystopia in Climate Fiction85
1. Denial87
2. Mitigation90
3. Negative Adaptation92
4. Positive Adaptation97
5. Gaia102
5. The Critical Dystopia in Climate Fiction109
1. Denial109
2. Mitigation111
3. Negative Adaptation113
4. Positive Adaptation120
5. Gaia125
6. The Problem of Fatalism in Dystopian Climate Fiction132
1. Fatalism in the Classical Dystopia132
2. Fatalism in the Critical Dystopia139
3. Time-travelling and Fatalism147
7. Base Reality Texts and Eutopias156
1. Base Reality Texts157
2. (Mainly) Critical Eutopias167
3. Cli-fi Narratives in Summary178
8. Cli-fi in Other Media181
1. Other Print Media181
2. Recorded Popular Music188
3. Audio-visual Media192
9. Changing the Climate: Some Provisional Conclusions200