Our changing world, in fiction…

History-making bushfires, rapidly rising sea levels, mass extinctions, too many humans and not enough food or land... these are ideas once reserved for the world of science fiction but are now, sadly in our own lifetimes, quickly becoming science fact.

Some of our best contemporary authors have been exploring these themes over the last few years, speculating on a way forward, or perhaps even predicting what may come if we continue down our current path without alteration.

Check out how these contemporary authors imagine our potential futures in light of our current predicaments.

In the very-scarily-too-near future...

Daughter of Bad Times

Entire nations are lost to ice melt and subsequent rising sea levels. Amid this catastrophe a privatised system of detaining the now-stateless environmental refugees has arisen, and those with no country to call home are held in detention centres dotted around the world. The refugees are forced to work to earn their right to become citizens of their hosts' lands. 

Within this book we see themes of climate change, privatised essential services, monopoly control of resources, and the monetisation and dehumanisation governments will force upon their citizens in the name of shareholder interests. 

The story is told through transcripts from a court case and the internal accounts of two young people, virtual strangers coming together through genuine connection and surrounded by chaos. 

This could possibly be one of the most important book of our times, a tool to expose the money-making processes that are being constructed right before our eyes.

Administrating the cataclysm, British-style...

The Wall

If you like to speculate about just how things might turn out for humanity in the face of climate catastrophe, then this Booker Prize long-listed novel is for you.

A cautionary tale about climate change (rising sea levels again), where humanity could end up as a species divided by rich and poor and/or pure luck of birthplace. 

The sea is rising and Britain has acted, by building a wall around their entire island. This wall of course will need protecting and it's through the conscription of the young people of the land - lured with the promise of future financial security - that we see the guards and administration constructed. 

A brilliantly written story about a life of privilege turned bad, it's a smart and funny read, and a deceptively meaningful experience in reading its first-person narrative.

Politics and populace and the good of all...


What do you hold dear and valuable, and how far you might go to preserve a lifestyle at once anachronistic as it is idyllic?

Here we have global and local politics laid bare through the eyes of a conflict-resolution negotiator who is drawn back to her home in Tasmania to resolve tensions surrounding a controversial bridge construction. Construction is stalled when what appears to be a terrorist plot de-rails progress. But is there more to this act of civil violence than first appears?? Our character connects with local community in order to uncover the truth, and she may be strangely central to it all...

A brilliant character-driven read exposing the values and suspicions of western society and our ever-increasing populace in our ever-decreasing lands.

Human migration and the morals of detention centres takes centre stage...

The Cage

What remains of a human being when every shred of humanity and dignity is removed? How can a group go from compassion to abuse while maintaining a sense of what's right? Two strangers arrive at a rural hotel and speak vaguely of a disaster that will impact the world. When communication fails them this prompts the hotel administration to take unusual steps. This is a timely story of immigration, detention centres, government administration, the normalisation of abuse, and the fall of humanity at its own hands. Although not a literary masterpiece by any stretch, it is a truly uncomfortable read with a powerful message to be heeded by all.

And when the changed world becomes the new normal…

Memory of Water

The world’s geography has changed due to rising seas. China rules over much of Europe and wars are fought over the most precious of all commodities: fresh water. A seventeen year old Finnish girl named Noria Kaitio is being raised as a tea master, soon to hold a valuable position within the new societal framework. She is also privy to some covert information such as the locations of secret springs. Noria must face the decision of sharing her water supply for the survival of her friends or remain true to the new ideals of New Qian. Bleak and haunting, this one is a little more dystopian than the others and creates a new uncanny world for our character to inhabit.

Further reading

If you're keen on these stories of "what may come", you may also like these curated lists exploring life post cataclysmic events...

Mā te wā,