Sunday, November 1, 2015

10 'cli-fi' novels that would make great movies

[A prelimary list of 10 'cli-fi' novels that would make great movies but the list goes on and on, and more titles will be added as readers tell us about them at this blog address.]

1. The Sea and Summer (George Turner )

Set in a watery Melbourne midway through the 21st Century and hailed as a masterwork of Australian literature, it’s an early and prescient piece of cli-fi published in Australia in 1987,
where a character named ''Francis Conway'' is trying desperately to rise above his family’s status
as destitute “Swills” amid economic turmoil to find some higher ground.

MORE: Francis Conway is Swill -- one of the 90 percent  in the year 2041 who must subsist on the inadequate charities of the state. Life, already difficult,
is rapidly becoming impossible for Francis and others like him,
as government corruption, official blindness and nature
have conspired to turn Swill homes into watery tombs.
And now the young boy must find a way to escape the approaching tide of disaster. ''THE SEA AND SUMMER,'' published in the USA as ''THE DROWNING TOWERS'' is George Turner's masterful exploration of the effects of climate change in the not-too-distant future.

 2. The Drowned World (JG Ballard)

The Drowned World is a 1962 cli-fi  novel by J. G. Ballard. In contrast to much post-apocalyptic fiction, the novel features a central character who, rather than being disturbed by the end of the old world, is enraptured by the chaotic reality that has come to replace it. The novel is an expansion of an out of print novella of the same title published in January 1962.

3. Odds Against Tomorrow (Nathaniel Rich)

It's the near future, Manhattan, and Mitch Zukor, a gifted Jewish math guy, is hired by a mysterious new financial consulting firm, FutureWorld. The business operates out of a cavernous office in the Empire State Building; Mitch is employee No. 2. He is asked to calculate worst-case scenarios in the most intricate detail, and his schemes are sold to corporations to indemnify them against any future disasters. This is the cutting edge of corporate irresponsibility, and business is booming.
As Mitch immerses himself in the mathematics of catastrophe―ecological collapse, global war, natural disasters―he becomes obsessed by a culture's fears. Yet he also loses touch with his last connection to reality: Elsa Bruner, a friend with her own apocalyptic secret, who has started a commune in Maine. Then, just as Mitch's predictions reach a nightmarish crescendo, an actual worst-case scenario overtakes Manhattan. Mitch realizes he is uniquely prepared to profit. But at what cost?

At once an all-too-plausible literary thriller, an unexpected love story, and a philosophically searching inquiry into the nature of fear, Odds Against Tomorrow poses the ultimate questions of imagination and civilization. The future is not quite what it used to be.

4. Flight Behavior (Barbara Kingsolver)

Barbara Kingsolver's 14th novel -- published in 2012 -- is a heady exploration of climate change, along with media exploitation and political opportunism that lie at the root of what may be our most urgent modern dilemma. Set in Appalachia, a region to which Kingsolver has returned often in both her acclaimed fiction and nonfiction, its suspenseful narrative traces the unforeseen impact of global concerns on the ordinary citizens of a rural community. As environmental, economic, and political issues converge, the residents of Feathertown, Tennessee, are forced to come to terms with their changing place in the larger world.

Dellarobia Turnbow, the engaging central character who sets things in motion, is ready for a change of any kind. A mother of young children, trapped in claustrophobic rural poverty, Dellarobia long ago repressed any ambitions or promise of her own. Her husband, Cub — whom she married as a pregnant teenager — is a kind but passive man who cedes all decisions to his domineering parents who own the sheep farm where they all live and work. Dellarobia submits to the mind-numbing duties of her life, but for the whole of her marriage has been bedeviled by fantasies of illicit affairs.
At the end of a gloomy, relentlessly rainy summer and autumn she finds herself at the limits of her endurance. In the novel's opening pages she strikes out recklessly, thrilled and terrified, having agreed for the first time to an actual tryst with another man.

Dellarobia is on her way up the mountain to a secluded hunting shed when she is stopped in her tracks by what she believes to be a miracle: an entire forested valley alight with cold orange flame.

5. Solar (Ian McEwan)

Solar is a novel by UK author Ian McEwan, first published in 2010.  It is a cli-fi satire about a jaded Nobel-winning physicist whose dysfunctional personal life and cynical ambition see him pursuing a solar-energy based solution for climate change.


Michael Beard is an eminent, Nobel Prize–winning physicist whose own life is chaotic and complicated. The novel takes the reader chronologically through three significant periods in Beard's life: 2000, 2005 and 2009, interspersed with some recollections of his student days in Oxford.


In the year 2000, Beard heads a fictional research centre in the British town of Reading but has little faith in the project and sits primarily as a political mascot. He is unfaithful to his fifth wife, Patrice, just as he was to his previous four wives. Instead of recriminations and threats of leaving, Patrice embarks upon an affair with their builder. Beard decides he has found the perfect wife just as he is losing her, and falls into a deep depression. To counter this, he agrees on a trip to the Arctic, to research climate change. He turns out to be the only scientist on an expedition dominated by artists. On his return home Beard learns that his wife has also been having an affair with his junior colleague Tom Aldous. During a tense encounter with Beard, Aldous dies in a freak accident, and Beard inherits his secret research into techniques for artificial photosynthesis. Beard frames Patrice's builder boyfriend Tarpin, who is jailed for Aldous's death.


In the year 2005, despite a history of humiliating media coverage, Beard manages to build a reputation as a champion of solar energy, in the process passing Aldous's research off as his own. He has been fired from his job in Reading, but is working on plans for an artificial photosynthesis plant. Beard continues to put on weight and his gastronomic indulgence is described in regular detail. He has a doting girlfriend Melissa who is desperate for a child. Time is running out for her, and so, taking matters into her own hands, she becomes pregnant.


In 2009, Beard is now fatter, and 62 years old. He is not in the best of health, and is worried about a suspicious-looking lesion on his wrist. His solar power plant is in the final stages of construction in Lordsburg, New Mexico, where he has acquired another girlfriend, Darlene, a waitress. Darlene wants to marry him, but he has a very comfortable set-up with Melissa and his three-year-old daughter, Catriona. All his problems culminate on the eve of the opening ceremony for his solar power plant. Tarpin is out of jail and turns up looking for work, Melissa flies to New Mexico with his daughter to try and win him over from Darlene, a patent lawyer arrives with proof that he stole his ideas from the now-dead Aldous, his doctor confirms the lesion on his hand is cancerous, his business partner abandons him to multi-million dollar debts, and then he learns that somebody (presumably Tarpin) has sabotaged his power plant by smashing the solar panels. In the final scene Beard gets an "unfamiliar, swelling sensation" in his heart which he interprets as love for his daughter, but may well be the onset of a heart attack.

6. Polar City Red (Jim Laughter)

''Polar City Red,'' published in 2012, is a climate-fiction novel set in the year 2075, and introduces reades to life in the great frozen north after global warming has destroyed Earth's ecosystem. It is a story of hope, betrayal, danger, conflict, and comfort, and has a social twist that will take you by surprise. Think sex lottery, whereby men are selected by lottery to father children among the dwindling population of women. A book that may change the way the world sees the future of mankind.

''Polar City Red'' was selected as part of a Cambridge University study in the summer of 2015 on the effects of global warming and climate change.

7. The Heatstroke Line (Edward Rubin)

''The Heatstroke Line'' is a cli-fi novel that shows what climate change will do to the United States.  It is intended as a warning.   Many Americans are willing to deny the reality of climate change because they think that it will only affect tropical countries and oceanic islands that are far away from us.   ''The Heatstroke Line'' depicts a United States that with its coastal cities flooded and its remaining land sweltering under debilitating heat.  It has broken into smaller units that are in conflict with each other and it is dominated by more northerly nations, such as Canada, that now have temperate climates.

There are already a number of “cli-fi” novels that deal with global warming.  But most of these belong within the category of post-apocalyptic science fiction.  They use a disaster — nuclear war, epidemic or ecological disaster — to wipe away the complexities or modern civilization and tell an adventure story.  The Heatstroke Line is different.  It shows an imaginable future, not very distant from the present, when there are still modern houses, cars, governments, schools and political conflicts.  The purpose is to bring home to Americans the devastating effects that climate change might have on our nation.

''The Heatstroke Line'' is a real story — relatively short, filled with action and written in simple, easy to read prose.  It does not preach and it does not try to advance scientific arguments.  Its goal is to make the consequences of climate change real and immediate.   It is intended to motivate people who believe that climate change is real to take action, and to induce those who deny climate change to re-think their position.

8.  Rapture (Liz Jensen)

Published in 2009 and possibly in story development already by some Hollywood studio,  RAPTURE is an electrifying story of science, faith, love, and self-destruction in a world on the brink. It is a June unlike any other before, with temperatures soaring to asphyxiating heights. All across the world, freak weather patterns—and the life-shattering catastrophes they entail—have become the norm. The twenty-first century has entered a new phase.

But Gabrielle Fox’s main concern is a personal one: to rebuild her life after a devastating car accident that has left her disconnected from the world, a prisoner of her own guilt and grief. Determined to make a fresh start, and shake off memories of her wrecked past, she leaves London for a temporary posting as an art therapist at Oxsmith Adolescent Secure Psychiatric Hospital, home to one hundred of the most dangerous children in the country. Among them: the teenage killer Bethany Krall.

Despite two years of therapy, Bethany is in no way rehabilitated and remains militantly nonchalant about the bloody, brutal death she inflicted on her mother. Raised in evangelistic hellfire, the teenager is violent, caustic, unruly, and cruelly intuitive. She is also insistent that her electroshock treatments enable her to foresee natural disasters—a claim which Gabrielle interprets as a symptom of doomsday delusion.

But as Gabrielle delves further into Bethany’s psyche, she begins to note alarming parallels between her patient’s paranoid disaster fantasies and actual incidents of geological and meteorological upheaval—coincidences her professionalism tells her to ignore but that her heart cannot. When a brilliant physicist enters the equation, the disruptive tension mounts—and the stakes multiply. Is the self-proclaimed Nostradamus of the psych ward the ultimate manipulator or a harbinger of global disaster on a scale never seen before? Where does science end and faith begin? And what can love mean in “interesting times”?

With gothic intensity, Liz Jensen conjures the increasingly unnerving relationship between the traumatized therapist and her fascinating, deeply calculating patient. As Bethany’s warnings continue to prove accurate beyond fluke and she begins to offer scientifically precise hints of a final, world-altering cataclysm, Gabrielle is confronted with a series of devastating choices in a world in which belief has become as precious - and as murderous — as life itself.

9. Exodus by Julia Bertagna
An award-winning first novel published in 2002 which follows the story of Mara in her quest for a new life in a drowned world. Like Wendy in Peter Pan, there’s a very poignant moment where she has to give a group of lost urchins names, and chooses to call them after all the lost Scottish islands -- Bute, Jura, Skye, Orkney, Harris, etc.

10. MADDADDAM (Margaret Atwood) - **** in deveopment now as an HBO TV series directed by Darren Aronofsky.......

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