Through speculative fiction, five interlocking novelettes explore the possible realities of our climate future.
What is the future of our climate? Given that our summers now regularly feature Arctic heat waves and wildfire blood skies, polar vortex winters that reach all the way down to Texas, and “100-year” storms that hit every few months, it may seem that catastrophe is a done deal. As grim as things are, however, we still have options. Combining fiction and nonfiction and employing speculative tools for scholarly purposes, Our Shared Storm explores not just one potential climate future but five possible outcomes dependent upon our actions today.
Written by speculative-fiction writer and sustainability researcher Andrew Dana Hudson, Our Shared Storm features five overlapping fictions to employ a futurist technique called “scenarios thinking.” Rather than try to predict how history will unfold—picking one out of many unpredictable and contingent branching paths—it instead creates a set of futures that represent major trends or counterposed possibilities, based on a set of climate-modeling scenarios known as the Shared Socioeconomic Pathways (SSPs).
The setting is the year 2054, during the Conference of the Parties global climate negotiations (a.k.a., The COP) in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Each story features a common cast of characters, but with events unfolding differently for them—and human society—in each alternate universe. These five scenarios highlight the political, economic, and cultural possibilities of futures where investments in climate adaptation and mitigation promised today have been successfully completed, kicked down the road, or abandoned altogether. From harrowing to hopeful, these stories highlight the choices we must make to stabilize the planet.
Our Shared Storm is an experiment in deploying practice-based research methods to explore the opportunities and challenges of using climate fiction to engage scientific and academic frameworks.
Part science communication, part futurist call to action, these five interlinked sci-fi novelettes chart different potential futures for a 2054 Buenos Aires climate conference. When the Conference of the Parties is struck by a hurricane, the fates of four characters American delegate Noah, Swedish climate refugee and artist Saga, Bollywood heiress turned climate influencer Diya, and Argentinian political up-and-comer Luis depends on the climate path humanity has followed. The deeply affecting "Too Fast to Fail," for example, imagines a dystopian, hypercapitalist climate business scene, while "If We Can Do This, We Can Do Asteroids!" swaps in a didactic but ultrautopian communal scenario. Bureaucracies, climate aid indenture, and drone war zones also feature. Debut author Hudson skillfully grounds the poignant iterating structure with thoughtful worldbuilding, well-balanced prose, and a keen sense of human motivation. Unfortunately, swaths of technical exposition and an academic introduction and afterword explaining the real climate modeling behind the fiction integrate awkwardly. Still, fans of William Gibson and Kim Stanley Robinson will savor this thoughtful, rigorous exploration of climate action.