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Science Fiction and Climate ChangeA Sociological Approach$
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Andrew Milner and J.R. Burgmann

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9781789621723

Published to Liverpool Scholarship Online: January 2021

DOI: 10.3828/liverpool/9781789621723.001.0001

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The Problem of Fatalism in Dystopian Climate Fiction

The Problem of Fatalism in Dystopian Climate Fiction

(p.122) Chapter 6 The Problem of Fatalism in Dystopian Climate Fiction
Science Fiction and Climate Change

Andrew Milner

J.R. Burgmann


This chapter explores the logics of fatalism in climate fiction as they variously function in the classical dystopia, the critical dystopia and the time-travel story. For the classical dystopia, the examples are Maggie Gee’s The Flood, Jeanette Winterson’s The Stone Gods and Antti Tuomainen’s Parantaja. For the critical dystopia, the examples are Emmi Itäranta’s Teemestarin kirja, Alexis Wright’s The Swan Book and James Bradley’s Clade. For the time-travel story, the examples are Ben Elton’s Time and Time Again, Wolfgang Jeschke’s Das Cusanus-Spiel and Jennifer Mills’s Dyschronia. The chapter concludes by observing that time travel, whether physical or psychic, is perhaps the most improbable novum in the whole of the SF repertoire, and that it might therefore seem strange to worry about its real-world implications. But the fatalist conclusion that there is little we can do to offset anthropogenic warming, and that our efforts might even make matters worse, does have such implications, and these might well be regretted.

Keywords:   Fatalism, Gee, Winterson, Tuomainen, Itäranta, Wright, Bradley, Elton, Jeschke, Mills

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