I am tired of looking at the weather and only seeing clear sunny days of high 60s. I am so over gloating to my friends in other parts of the country about not having to wear a jacket while sitting in the park on endless sunny days.
Feeling the dark side of no rain reminds me of great books and movies that portray a future where some sort of climatic catastrophe has irreparably changed life as we know it. Most of these books fall in to the science fiction or dystopia genre. But now that this subgenre is growing a new term has been coined - “climatic fiction” or cli-fi. Here are some books and movies that I have enjoyed:
The Drought by science fiction master J.G. Ballard is now seen as the first in the cli-fi genre. He creates a world that has become a vast desert and is on the verge of extinction due to industrial waste.
An older book, set in a California drastically changed by global warming, is A Friend of the Earth by T.C. Boyle. The year is 2025 and Ty Tierwater is an environmentalist who is caring for some of the last animals on Earth. He struggles to live through recurring monsoons followed by extreme temperatures.
California by Edan Lepucki follows a couple who has to cope with survival after escaping a dying Los Angeles. Although a desert like setting isn’t specified, you feel that something major has happened to the climate to set people scrambling from the cities.
There are also some great teen books that have similar cli-fi settings as well. Blood Red Road by Moira Young is set in a relentless desert named Sandsea. The main character is one of my favorite female teen heroines of all time. This book is the start of the Dust Lands series if you enjoy that kind of thing.
Paolo Bacigalupi is a strong writer in the cli-fi genre and he writes for both adults and teens. One of his teen books Ship Breaker, set in a watery rather than an arid world, is amazing. I find it one of the most realistic of the bunch. It portrays a future where you can see how climatic change, while making us all scramble to survive, will also continue to widen the divide between those who have and those who have not. I am looking forward to his new book, Water Knife, out in May 2015. Water Knife is set in a future where water is more precious than gold and Nevada, Arizona, and California are battling it out over the last drops of the Colorado River. Look for it in our catalog soon!
Here are a couple of films that I have enjoyed that are set in a fraught world that has been brought on by our endless plunder of the earth:
The entire Mad Max trilogy, starting with Mad Max, is set in a world where law and order is dissolving because of a major energy crisis. The movie was filmed in the Outback of Australia and it really makes me miss rain. This movie stands up to repeated viewings so watch it again and if you haven’t seen it – watch it now. It is followed by The Road Warrior and Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome (with a great performance by Tina Turner!). The reboot Max Mad: Fury Road is due in theaters this May.
Snowpiercer is about the people left behind in a world that is dead because of a failed climate-change experiment. They live in a train that circles the globe with no destination. Once again the huge divide in the classes grows and becomes even harder to ignore.
Young Ones is set in a future where water is near impossible to find. The setting reminded me of the earth of Interstellar. Although this movie was filmed in South Africa, it looked pure eastern California to me and it is said to be The United States. Jerome crosses “The Border” seeking more hospitable territory, i.e. more water, and I felt sure he was leaving California.
Enjoy these books and movies and wish for RAIN!
Susy is a teen librarian at the Cesar E. Chavez branch library in Fruitvale. She enjoys reading, motorcycling, and traveling in her free time.