Many authors are tackling the issues of climate change. There is even a new genre for these works, Climate Fiction or 'Cli-Fi" (as opposed to Sci-Fi). Works may explore a near future where the effects of the changing enviroment have come to fruition, and the world is affected by radical change or disaster. Others explore a more subtle angle, where modern life continues but a connection and relationship to aspects of the natural world, such as plants, animals or the landcsape, or scientific research and experiments take on significant meaning as a backdrop to the character's journeys.
While you are waiting for the latest blockbuster - why not give one of these fiction and non-fiction works a try? Each has a narrative exploring an element of science, climate change, nature, animals or a connection to wilderness and the environment.
Ghost Species by James Bradley
Ghost Species is a story set in remote Tasmania in the future where earth is in a climate crisis.
A billionaire who runs a private organisation, is involved in scientific experiments and he invites scientists Kate and Jay to meet with him giving them an opportunity to join a secret project. He is interested in ideas to re-engineer the climate by resurrecting extinct species to help restore ecosystems - he shows them genetically engineered plants, and live thylacines and mammoths roaming around his property as evidence of his success.
Jay is impressed, however Kate is sceptical and concerned about the ethics of it all. The billionaire then reveals his ultimate plan to bring a primitive human back from extinction – a Neanderthal. Kate has her reservations from the beginning, however, agrees, because she is curious and an expert in genome sequencing. But questions should they be doing this?
A Neanderthal baby is none the less a human, and not an experiment or to be treated as a specimen and as the child grows a bond between Kate and Eve grows. However, its physically obvious Eve is different - she doesn’t truly fit in and the story explores her own isolation and exclusion from society.
It’s a fascinating read that gives you lots to think of and wonder about the possibilities we could face in the future. As science advances, these types of scenarios could come into existence and raise many questions about what is ethical and harmful to humanity. Bradley delivers a very creative way of looking at our responsibilities to the planet and each other and the need to consider the consequences of our actions.
The Breeding Season by Amanda Niehaus
It’s the story of Elise, a biologist who has recently had a miscarriage. From this experience her sense of self is broken and her relationship with her partner Dan, under extreme stress, as both try to deal with their pain in different ways. Her solution is to isolate herself in fieldwork and the breeding habits of Quolls. While she studies the reproduction of animals and reflects on her own body and self, Dan, a writer works through his grief by contemplating how the feminine body is portrayed in art and how women are reflected in this. Science and art are used to explore this theme with each gender presenting a different experience and view of sex and death. At the core of this book is grief which is written with great sensitivity but what I found interesting was how Elise is drawn to and craves nature as a solution to heal herself. It is so beautifully written and interconnected with nature as it explores the human experience of death, a part of our nature that we often struggle with.
The Last Migration by Charlotte McConaghy
“How far you would you go for love? Franny is determined to go to the end of the earth, following the last of the Arctic terns on what may be their final migration to Antarctica.
As animal populations plummet and commercial fishing faces prohibition, Franny talks her way onto one of the few remaining boats heading south. But as she and the eccentric crew travel further from shore and safety, the dark secrets of Franny’s life begin to unspool - there’s A daughter’s yearning search for her mother. An impulsive, passionate marriage and A shocking crime.
Haunted by love and violence, Franny must confront what she is really running towards – and from.
The Last Migration is a wild, gripping and deeply moving tale from a brilliant young writer.
From the west coast of Ireland to Australia and remote Greenland, through crashing Atlantic swells to the bottom of the world, this is an ode to the wild places and creatures now threatened, and an epic story of the possibility of hope against all odds.”
The following are non-fiction works:
Into the Woods : Trees in Photogpaphy by Martin Barnes
“Wild or cultivated, solitary or within a forest, rural or urban, trees have long provided a compelling source of inspiration for artists and photographers alike. Both, as standalone aesthetic 'objects' and as symbols of broader cultural significance, trees have an understated, sometimes underappreciated ability to evoke a deep, primal sense of wonder and pleasure.
Whether captured as functional botanical records or as a means of creative expression, this book is an elegant, informative introduction to the ways in which distinctive patterns of branch, bark, leaf and root have continued to offer arresting subjects for photographers across the centuries.
With over 100 photographs ranging from the 19th through to the 21st century and supported by insightful commentaries. The images are guaranteed to draw a reaction and engage your thoughts. Trees have always been the backdrop to our lives and yet how often do we ponder their existence.
Animals Make Us Human edited by Leah Kaminsky & Meg Keneally
This book was conceived as a result of the devasting Australian bushfires in 2019 to 2020 and is a collection of short stories written by authors and scientists about their connection with all types of species in the natural environment.
It’s a beautiful collection of human observations, feelings and experience as the authors share their thoughts about animals, birds, insects, fish and even spiders being a part of their life, directly or indirectly. You will be amazed by the relationships formed and connections to all living creatures. Animals do make us human and this book makes you ponder your own connections.
This book reflects on the devastation of the recent fires, and states “the fires were a call to action, underscoring the fragility of our precious ecosystems and what is at risk of being lost”. I would recommend this book an essential read, to remind us how precious all life is on our planet and a need for us to take care of all living creatures we share this planet with.
Deborah and Robyn