Since the Industrial Revolution, humans have transformed the Earth’s atmosphere, committing our planet to more extreme weather, rising sea levels, melting polar ice caps, and mass extinction. This period of observable human impact on the Earth’s ecosystems has been called the Anthropocene Age. The anthropogenic climate change that has impacted the Earth has also affected our literature, but criticism of the contemporary novel has not adequately recognized the literary response to this level of environmental crisis. Ecocriticism’s theories of place and planet, meanwhile, are troubled by a climate that is neither natural nor under human control. Anthropocene Fictions is the first systematic examination of the hundreds of novels that have been written about anthropogenic climate change.
Drawing on climatology, the sociology and philosophy of science, geography, and environmental economics, Adam Trexler argues that the novel has become an essential tool to construct meaning in an age of climate change. The novel expands the reach of climate science beyond the laboratory or model, turning abstract predictions into subjectively tangible experiences of place, identity, and culture. Political and economic organizations are also being transformed by their struggle for sustainability. In turn, the novel has been forced to adapt to new boundaries between truth and fabrication, nature and economies, and individual choice and larger systems of natural phenomena. Anthropocene Fictions argues that new modes of inhabiting climate are of the utmost critical and political importance, when unprecedented scientific consensus has failed to lead to action.
Under the Sign of Nature: Explorations in Ecocriticism
As an extremely timely contribution to the urgent discussions of climate change and culture in the Anthropocene, Anthropocene Fictions deserves high praise for carefully documenting the longer history of climate change novels as well as projecting forward into the uncertain futures of postapocalyptic writings. Trexler’s provocative theory of 'eco-nomics,' or the inextricably intertwined aspects of ecological and economic choices made in our industrial cultures as we navigate rising waters and rising costs in the twenty-first century, is one with wide relevance for anyone interested in the cultural impact of global environmental change.
With admirable thoroughness Adam Trexler has traced over 150 novels that are about climate change in one sense or another. He highlights the profound cultural shifts that are accompanying this phenomenon and underlines the novelty of the artistic challenges it represents for novelists. This result is an original and thoughtful book that must become an important reference point for future work in environmental criticism and in studies of the novel.
Readers interested in ecoliterature will find this book a must read.
[A]n interesting and provocative look into the relationship between literary climate fiction and the changing global climate it describes.... Overall, Anthropocene Fictions provides important, critical insight into the relationship between fiction and science, with sufficient attention to its implications for how we think about climate change.
Adam Trexler is an independent scholar living in Portland, Oregon