A People's Future - A Selection of Twenty Five Science Fiction Writers
(Our Future) Reeling from grim news about climate change, I took a break this summer to recharge my own batteries and see if today’s best speculative fiction writers could imagine us into a better future. There is a growing genre of climate science fiction, or “cli-fi,” which features prominently in A People’s Future of the United States: Speculative Fiction from 25 Extraordinary Writers, a new volume edited by Victor LaValle and John Joseph Adams.
As a fan of this genre, I found myself revived by what longtime climate activist Bill McKibben calls “the flow” of inspiration when reading what these authors propose about what could be, if we are bold enough to reimagine the future. Their call to imagination is restorative. All is not lost, their brilliant visions suggest, even if our climate catastrophe feels insurmountable. The human spirit has not perished.
LaValle and Adams put forward a bold call: “We are seeking stories that explore new forms of freedom, love, and justice: narratives that release us from the chokehold of the history and mythology of the past…and writing that gives us new futures to believe in.”
Two common themes strike me in the work of these twenty-five authors. First, there is no escaping the apocalypse that is already upon us – the climate catastrophes Wallace-Wells and McKibben survey grimly. It appears that even if you can paint the future, you can’t escape the present.
But the second theme is more optimistic: with imagination we just might rise to the challenges of survival, healing, reparations, and repair, even now.