12 of the Best ‘Cli-Fi’ Novels to Inspire You to Save the Planet

Whatever you believe is the best way to make change going forward, scientists are all agreed that we are destroying the planet. Climate change is big news right now, whether it’s the protests by Extinction Rebellion, or the campaigning of governments by young climate change protester Greta Thunberg, there’s not a day goes by when we’re not seeing something in the news, and those campaigning think it’s about time too!

We are fans of dystopia and post-apocalyptic novels, but from this current political movement springs a whole new genre, ‘Cli-Fi’. The term was first coined by former journalist and English techer Dan Bloom in the mid-2000s and covers fiction that explores the consequences of climate change.

The increasingly popular genre has taken on a new popularity and today we have a list of the best books from that genre.

The Year of the Flood – Margaret Atwood

The Year of the Flood is the second book in the Maddaddam trilogy. The long-feared waterless flood has occurred, altering Earth as we know it and obliterating most human life. Among the survivors are Ren, a young trapeze dancer locked inside the high-end sex club Scales and Tails, and Toby, who is barricaded inside a luxurious spa. Amid shadowy, corrupt ruling powers and new, gene-spliced life forms, Ren and Toby will have to decide on their next move, but they can’t stay locked away.

The Year of the Flood

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Walkaway – Cory Doctorow

It’s a dangerous world out there, the empty lands wrecked by climate change, dead cities hollowed out by industrial flight, shadows hiding predators animal and human alike. Still, when the initial pioneer walkaways flourish, more people join them. Then the walkaways discover the one thing the ultra-rich have never been able to buy: how to beat death. Now it’s war – a war that will turn the world upside down.

Fascinating, moving, and darkly humorous, Walkaway is a multi-generation science fiction thriller about the wrenching changes of the next hundred years…and the very human people who will live their consequences.

Walkaway

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Dry – Neal Shusterman

The drought—or the Tap-Out, as everyone calls it—has been going on for a while now. Everyone’s lives have become an endless list of don’ts: don’t water the lawn, don’t fill up your pool, don’t take long showers… Until the taps run dry.

Dry

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The Windup Girl – Paolo Bacigalupi

New People are slaves, soldiers, and toys of the rich in a chilling near future in which calorie companies rule the world, the oil age has passed, and the side effects of bio-engineered plagues run rampant across the globe.

What Happens when calories become currency? What happens when bio-terrorism becomes a tool for corporate profits, when said bio-terrorism’s genetic drift forces mankind to the cusp of post-human evolution?

The Windup Girl

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The Dark Flood Rises – Margaret Drabble

The Dark Flood Rises moves between England and a seemingly idyllic expat community in the Canary Islands. In both places, disaster looms. In Britain, the flood tides are rising, and in the Canaries, there is always the potential for a seismic event. As well, migrants are fleeing an increasingly war-torn Middle East.

The Dark Flood Rises

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The Territory – Sarah Govett

The Territory is the first book in a trilogy. The year is 2059. Noa Blake is just another normal 15 year old. Except in the Territory normal isn’t normal. The richest children can download information and bypass the need to study. In a flooded world of dwindling resources, Noa and the other ‘Norms’ have their work cut out to compete. And competing is everything – anybody who fails the TAA exam at 15 will be shipped off to the disease-ridden Wetlands, to a life of misery, if not certain death.

The Territory

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Wool – Hugh Howey

This is a world where the air is deadly, and where humanity has lived ever since anyone can remember, in a giant underground silo, a bunker hundreds of storeys deep, creating everything people need beneath the earth. The outside world can only be seen through a blurry image projected onto a wall, “lifeless hills … a familiar rotting skyline … ancient glass and steel”. The filth of the atmosphere gradually coats the cameras capturing the view, and the silo’s capital punishment is “cleaning”: the criminal is sent outside to polish the lenses before being overcome by poisonous gases.

Wool

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The South Pole Station – Ashley Shelby

Cooper Gosling has just answered five hundred questions. Her results indicate she is abnormal enough for Polar life.

The only thing the Polies have in common is the conviction that they don’t belong anywhere else. Then a fringe scientist arrives, claiming climate change is a hoax. His presence will rattle this already-imbalanced community, bringing Cooper and the Polies to the center of a global controversy and threatening the ancient ice chip they call home.

South Pole Station

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Who Fears Death – Nnedi Okoforar

In a post-apocalyptic Africa, the world has changed in many ways; yet in one region genocide between tribes still bloodies the land. A woman who has survived the annihilation of her village and a terrible rape by an enemy general wanders into the desert, hoping to die. Instead, she gives birth to an angry baby girl with hair and skin the color of sand. Gripped by the certainty that her daughter is different—special—she names her Onyesonwu, which means “Who fears death?” in an ancient language.

Who Fears Death

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The Bone Clocks – David Mitchell

One drowsy summer’s day in 1984, teenage runaway Holly Sykes encounters a strange woman who offers a small kindness in exchange for ‘asylum’. Decades will pass before Holly understands exactly what sort of asylum the woman was seeking . . .

The Bone Clocks follows the twists and turns of Holly’s life from a scarred adolescence in Gravesend to old age on Ireland’s Atlantic coast as Europe’s oil supply dries up – a life not so far out of the ordinary, yet punctuated by flashes of precognition, visits from people who emerge from thin air and brief lapses in the laws of reality. For Holly Sykes – daughter, sister, mother, guardian – is also an unwitting player in a murderous feud played out in the shadows and margins of our world, and may prove to be its decisive weapon.

The Bone Clocks

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Flight Behaviour – Barbara Kingsolver

Flight Behavioris a brilliant and suspenseful novel set in present day Appalachia; a breathtaking parable of catastrophe and denial that explores how the complexities we inevitably encounter in life lead us to believe in our particular chosen truths.

Kingsolver’s riveting story concerns a young wife and mother on a failing farm in rural Tennessee who experiences something she cannot explain, and how her discovery energizes various competing factions—religious leaders, climate scientists, environmentalists, politicians—trapping her in the center of the conflict and ultimately opening up her world.

Flight Behaviour

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The Carbon Diaries – Saci Lloyd

It’s the year 2015, a time when global warming has begun to ravage the environment. In response, the United Kingdom becomes the first country to mandate carbon rationing―a well-intentioned plan that goes tragically awry. When her carbon debit card arrives in the mail, sixteen-year-old Laura is just trying to pass her exams, manage her ecopunk band, and catch the attention of her gorgeous classmate Ravi. But as multiple natural disasters strike and Laura’s parents head toward divorce, her world spirals out of control. A severe drought sparks fires and deadly riots; then the highest-category hurricane in recent history strikes London. With the death toll in the thousands and climbing, Laura and her family face the unimaginable as her older sister clings to life. (The Carbon Diaries 2017 follows on from this story)

The Carbon Diaries 2015

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So that’s our top 12. If you have any others to suggest, please add them in the comments.



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