The Terranauts, T. C. Boyle (Bloomsbury)
As climate change threatens the Earth, eight scientists, dubbed the ‘Terranauts’, are selected to live under glass in E2, a prototype of a possible off-Earth colony. The compound comprises five biomes—rainforest, savanna, desert, ocean and marsh. With characteristic humour and wit, T. C. Boyle illustrates the inherent fallibility of human nature itself.
– Isabel Hassan.
The Ministry for the Future, Kim Stanley Robinson (Orbit Books)
In January 2025, an organisation is established to ensure the planet’s climate is safe for future generations. Less than two months later, a heatwave strikes India and kills 20 million people, changing everything. The book follows a melange of witness accounts tracking the events of the next 20 years. Bold, intriguing and audacious in its purpose, this is Kim Stanley Robinson at his strongest.
Eden, Tim Lebbon (Titan Books)
The Virgin Zones were established to combat the spiralling damage of global warming. Abandoned by humanity to give nature a chance at restoration and survival, these vast areas were intended to become the lungs of the world. However, when humans dare to venture into such places despite the rules, they discover they aren’t welcome anymore. Nature has returned to Eden, the oldest zone, in an elemental, primeval way.
The Book of Koli, M. R. Carey (Orbit Books)
In this new trilogy, nature is fed up with climate change and trees have become bloodthirsty predators. The remaining population lives in villages run by people, who can ‘magically’ make old tech respond to them, called Ramparts. No one ventures beyond the village walls of Mythen Rood. But Koli soon uncovers a secret that will force him to leave. From the author of The Girl with All the Gifts, this trilogy-launching book is brilliantly written and imagined.
Stillicide, Cynan Jones (Granta Books)
People in Britain struggle to survive as water is scarce and commodified. The Water Train that serves the city increasingly at risk of sabotage. The lives of several individuals interlock when news breaks that the construction of a giant Ice Dock will displace more people than initially thought. Cynan Jones’ story began as a series on BBC Radio 4, and here Jones weaves together his tales of love and hope with wonderful brevity and precision.
Solar, Ian McEwan (Penguin Random House)
2010’s well-researched satire, Solar, approaches the severity of the climate crisis through ‘a forgiving kind of humour’ (McEwan in an interview with Random House Books AU, 2010). McEwan dichotomises a detestable, glutenous protagonist, intelligent to the physics of climate change, yet apathetic to action, with an opportunity for success, even revenge, but, above all, credit for saving the planet from ultimate catastrophe.
– Felicity Hemming
The Word for World is Forest, Ursula Le Guin
In this expertly environmentally conscious novel, New Tahiti is a planet ravaged by human colonialism and the pursuit of resources. The Creechies (caught in the firing line) offer an alternative, sustainable form of living, particularly in their ability to control their dreams and subconscious, connected by the forest and nature. But humans are destructive, and the Creechies are soon forced to subvert their peaceful ways of life and fight.