Paul McAuley, author of ''AUSTRAL''
SYNOPSIS: The world is still warming, sea levels are still rising, and the Antarctic Peninsula is home to Earth’s newest nation, with life quickened by ecopoets spreading across valleys and fjords exposed by the retreat of the ice. Austral Morales Ferrado, a child of the last generation of ecopoets, is a husky: an edited person adapted to the unforgiving climate of the far south, feared and despised by most of its population.
American novelist Amitav Ghosh stirred literary circles up recently with his rebuke to “realist” modes of writing. Where, he asked, is all the fiction about climate change?
Well, it turns out that the answer is ''cli-fi,'' aka climate fiction, which Ghosh was aware of at the time of his writing and even mentioned in his book about climate change, The Great Denouement.
Genre writing has been exploring the possible futures of climate change for many years, and 2017’s three best novels engage in powerful and varied ways with precisely that subject. Kim Stanley Robinson is the unofficial laureate of future climatology, and his cli-fi novel titled New York 2140 (Orbit), a multilayered cli-fi novel set in a flooded Big Apple, is by any standard an enormous achievement. It is as much a reflection on how we might fit climate change into fiction as it is a detailed, scientifically literate representation of its possible consequences.
Just as rich, though much tighter in narrative focus, is Paul McAuley’s superb cli-fi novel titled Austral (Gollancz), set in a powerfully realised near‑future Antarctica transformed by global warming.