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A new genre of fiction is joining the ranks of sci-fi, fantasy, and mystery. It’s called cli-fi, or “climate change fiction.”

Amy Brady is senior editor at the Chicago Review of Books, a literary website that launched last year. In February, she started writing a new monthly column devoted to cli-fi novels.

Brady says they come in lots of different styles. For example, science fiction writer Kim Stanley Robinson’s New York 2140 depicts a city that has been drastically altered by sea-level rise.

Another author, Barbara Kingsolver, tells a more subtle story in Flight Behavior. It’s about a woman who discovers a colony of monarch butterflies near her home in Tennessee, their migratory paths changed by rising temperatures.

Brady: “The one thing that they all have in common is that climate change plays some role in the lives of the people that they depict.”

Brady says that a novel about climate change does something for readers that a news article cannot.

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Brady: “It makes climate change not an abstract concept but a story that they can digest and understand and really feel at an emotional level.”

Brady hopes that these books, and her column, can inspire new conversations about climate change and how it affects us all.

Reporting credit: Sarah Kennedy/ChavoBart Digital Media.
Image graphic: Created by David McCarthy.

Bud Ward

Bud Ward is Editor of Yale Climate Connections. He started his environmental journalism career in 1974. He later served as Assistant Director of the U.S. Congress's National Commission on Air Quality,...