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Exploring the Subgenre of Climate Fiction

The fiction genre is a widespread one, full of intricacies and subgenres you might not have even known existed. One such subgenre is climate fiction, a relatively new area of writing, which seeks to do some good in the world.

Climate fiction has not been around for long, but it is already becoming a powerful tool for writers who feel they should help with the preservation of the world that gave them rise. As to what the subgenre’s parameters actually are, there is some debate, but renowned climate change activist and writer Amy Brady put it best: “Just as human beings are capable of feeling multiple emotions at once—hope as well as discouragement, courage as well as fear—the best of climate fiction allows for all of these feelings.” Climate fiction is a difficult subject to broach, it seems such a massive problem that it is impossible to tackle. However, many authors, such as Pitchaya Sudbanthad, are beginning to break down the issue and begin conversations through their works.

Much of the general populace is hesitant to acknowledge climate change, even through fiction, due to the enormity of the issue. Saving the planet we call home from impending heat death is enough of a deterrent to keep even the heartiest person from wanting to directly try to solve the issue. Through laws and activism, society is beginning to talk about the issue, but not quick enough. Authors are essential here, because they contain the unique ability to portray real life issues through fiction and serve them to audiences in manageable doses. People, as studies show, are more likely to engage with a climate change piece of media if it does not intimidate them. Authors break down this intimidation factor either through translating their issues to fiction or bringing the technical aspects of climate fiction into an explanation and approach the wider populace can consume.

As to what “climate fiction” is, the boundaries are flexible. Most authors and readers, however, seem to agree that climate fiction is anything that defines and tackles the issues of climate change, and acknowledges humanity’s role in bringing about the issue. Setting up a solution, or fixing the issue within a story, is not needed for a piece to be classified as climate fiction. This might seem contradictory to the most basic goals of the genre, but not all media needs to be about fixing the issue to do good. The goal of most climate fiction is simply to get people talking. To make someone stop and think about the implications of the story they are reading. To think, Wait, this is important, and go out and say that to someone else.

Climate fiction is not the solution, and never will be, to climate change. The issue is ultimately bigger than one story or novel can solve. Hundreds upon thousands of novels and short stories though . . . all beginning and continuing conversations, that can make a difference. If we, as humans, are to change the course our planet is on, we need to begin acting. Even if we are not in positions as individuals to begin immediately enacting change, we can call for it, asking our leaders to represent our wishes.

We need to begin talking about how we must change. As an author, I consider that my ultimate goal: to begin conversations. To get people to talk about what needs to change, and how we can begin that change. Talking does not immediately lead to a solution, but it can be the beginning of one.

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