Interesting review-feature by Robin McKie in yesterday’s Observer:
Today, in these more strained ecological times, this kind of storytelling has taken on a harder edge and eco-thrillers have become a more robust genre – both on the page and on the screen. Upcoming films such as 2012 and The Book of Eli portray ecological and technological catastrophes like those depicted in The Day After Tomorrow (2004) and I Am Legend (2007). At the same time, plays such as Resilience and On the Beach have explored environmental issues with considerable success, while forthcoming novels from William Boyd, Margaret Atwood and Ian McEwan will also pursue ecological themes.
In short, environmental fiction is moving away from its roots in science fiction and is becoming part of mainstream literature – as is revealed by some of the most recent novels to tackle themes of climate change and the like.
I have both Cold Earth and The Rapture on my (unwieldy) TBR pile at the moment, and while McKie’s argument isn’t as rigorously argued as perhaps it might be, I do think he’s on to something. I’ve thought for a while that if I had a spare year or two, a project I would like to tackle is an analysis of the development of treatments of climate change — as distinct from disaster stories — in science fiction, both because I think it’s an interesting marker of how genre sf has engaged (or failed to engage) with the future in which we are actually living, and because I think it’s an interesting marker of the relationship between genre sf and mainstream-published sf, as McKie suggests. It seems to me there is are interestingly intertwined stories to be told there, and that the body of work that would need to be covered is not entirely unmanageable. [EDIT: I completely forgot that we’d discussed some of these issues before.]
Also, from the end of the article:
Solar by Ian McEwan. The idea for Solar (working title, due out in 2010) came to McEwan while stuck on a boat in the Arctic. His subject is climate change, considered through a central character who “steadily gets fatter through the novel” and the innate inability of human nature to counter it