69 Comments
Jan 7Liked by Claudia Befu Ibarra

Great summary Claudia, and great to see the reading list ahead, both fiction and factual.

I hated How High We Go in the Dark. I thought it was massively overhyped when it came out. The first story was very good, but then it just descended into drivel. I think it's probably one of the books I've rated lowest on my Goodreads. 🙊 Perhaps I was too harsh. I don't know. Let me know your thoughts when you get to it.

I don't know all of the others, so thanks for the links.

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Now I'm looking so much forward to reading this book, thanks Nathan 😐

Is this a Japanese author? I remember reading another book from a Japanese author (besides Murakami) and the storytelling is really different. I'm curious what I'll think about this one.

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Jan 8·edited Jan 8Liked by Claudia Befu Ibarra

Hehe, sorry. I think a lot of people enjoyed it. I just found all the stories to be so thin and lacking and the writing so lacklustre ... 🤷‍♂️

A real shame, because it starts with a good and entirely believable premise.

I just skimmed Goodreads and this snippet from someone sums up how I remember feeling: "Lacklustre and monotonous, not only did How High We Go in the Dark fail to grip my attention but it also failed to elicit an emotional response on my part. It was a bland and repetitive affair, which is a pity given the hype around it"

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Could it be that the hype was caused by the fact that it's a cli-fi novel? I have the impression that anything that has to do with a cause is hyped even when it's not the best literature.

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Probably. I can't remember what article/interview I read before it came out, but I'm sure it would have leaned into the climate aspect.

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Jan 14Liked by Claudia Befu Ibarra

Agreed. I had high hopes for "How high we go in the dark", but had to stop listening to it midway through.

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Jan 15·edited Jan 15Liked by Claudia Befu Ibarra

Glad it wasn't just me!! I made it to the end of the physical book, but it was a slog.

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😶

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After these glowing recommendations, I’m slowly removing this book from my list 😅

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Jan 8Liked by Claudia Befu Ibarra

I remember interacting with the author back on twitter, way before his book was published. He was kind of a big deal, one of the guys giving hot takes and advice, and he seemed smart, if a little high-brow. Surreal to see people are now talking about his book.

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Was his advice good?

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Yeah, something he said about submitting to magazines stuck with me all these years. He said that in the beginning he was sending stories everywhere, without much luck. At some point, he started realizing he should match the story to the mag, and only send stuff to the places where he thought it would be a good first. Pretty simple advice, but I’d been making that mistake and it was cool to see a much more experienced writer go through the same trouble as I did.

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Jan 8Liked by Claudia Befu Ibarra

That's interesting. I hadn't heard of him until I read a preview/interview before the book came out.

Giving hot takes? Glad I didn't take any of them haha.

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I also haven't heard of him until last when I found the book on a recommended list for cli-fi.

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Jan 7Liked by Claudia Befu Ibarra

A Land of Milk and Honey has been on my list for a while. Excited to see it comes recommended by Elle. Bumping it up on my to-be-purchased list for this year!

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Now that I'm reading more, my Kindle bill is going up as well. 😅 I need a sponsor.

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Jan 8Liked by Claudia Befu Ibarra

😂 yeah, but hey, that’s one of the good problems to have!

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Haha, for sure!

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Jan 7Liked by Claudia Befu Ibarra

A typically thorough and expansive review from you, Claudia - I need to read it again! You might consider 'Termination Shock' by Neal Stephenson and/or Kim Stanley Robinson's 'Ministry of the Future' for your fiction list.

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Thank you, Johnathan. I already had the Ministry for the Future on last year’s list. I’ll check out Termination Shock.

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Jan 8·edited Jan 8Liked by Claudia Befu Ibarra

Ah, sorry! I had a nagging feeling it had come up before. I don't want to blame my ageing memory - not yet... 😋. I loved 'How High We Go in the Dark' and was given 'The Future' for Christmas. It is New Scientist's Book Club 'Book of the month' in January. Alderman provides some thoughts here: https://www.newscientist.com/article/2411018-why-i-explored-the-corrupting-power-of-tech-billionaires-in-the-future/

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Wow, I'm looking forward to reading it, especially because I already had an intro to what the rich think about the future on this planet from reading 'Architects of Intelligence'. It's mainly about AI but toward the end there's some thoughts on how to escape on spaceships if everything goes belly up on Earth due to the climate crisis. I wonder how they would survive there without resources from Earth.

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Jan 8Liked by Claudia Befu Ibarra

You're second-guessing my second novel - currently a work in progress!

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Are people living in spaceships?

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Jan 9·edited Jan 9Liked by Claudia Befu Ibarra

Trying to. More like clunked together satellites. As with most VC-led things, initial reality doesn't match the hype. And humans didn't evolve to live 'Upstairs'. I hadn't realised Martin Ford's AI book contained relevant material. Thanks for referring to it! (Also interesting how quickly the AI field changes - Sam Altman wasn't interviewed!)

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Apr 6Liked by Claudia Befu Ibarra

I'm coming in very late for the climate fiction list, but I've been wanting to read Kim Stanley Robinson's "The Ministry of the Future" (was that on your list last year?). I'd also recommend Annie Proulx's "Barkskins": https://www.nytimes.com/2016/06/19/books/review/barkskins-by-annie-proulx.html

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Apr 6·edited Apr 6Author

Thanks for the recommendation Martha. I'll add it to my list for next year.

I'm actually planning a cli-fi book club. We could start with the Ministry for the Future if all the participants show an interest. I wrote more here: https://www.storyvoyager.com/p/dune-climate-talks-a-cli-fi-list

I read the book last year but it's one of the most well known and I'd read it again with the club.

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Apr 6Liked by Claudia Befu Ibarra

Great, sign me up for the cli-fi book club. Yes to "Ministry of the Future" - but I'd also enjoy others on that list. Would be happy to re-read "The Overstory" or "The Left-Hand of Darkness" (the latter is one of my all-time favorites). Not sure I could tackle "Dune" again, though :-)

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I already read Dune with a group, I don't think I'll do it again. 😅

I loved The Left Hand of Darkness. Especially because I had done some reading on the ice age and I loved that the story took place in an ice age. So well written!

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Feb 5Liked by Claudia Befu Ibarra

Very late in coming to this, but I'm looking forward to getting into your cli-fi recommendations! I also had a look at your ones from last year and was intrigued by The Windup Girl. I'm revisiting Philip K Dick's books, so the comparison with Bladerunner caught my eye. What did you think of it in the end?

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The Windup Girl was my favorite from last year’s list. Followed by Octavia Butler.

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Feb 5Liked by Claudia Befu Ibarra

Oooooh, nice! I'll put it on my list (which actually is a list now that I've realized I just forget these things otherwise).

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Cool! I use Goodreads to keep track of my reading. Otherwise I also forget. Let mw know with which book you'll start.

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Feb 6Liked by Claudia Befu Ibarra

On the waitlist for The Windup Girl at the library, looking forward to it!

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Oh, great! Enjoy 😊

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https://stirlingnewberry.substack.com/p/half-a-star

Climate Change neo-noire.

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Jan 8·edited Jan 8Liked by Claudia Befu Ibarra

Speaking of climate non-fiction books, have you ever heard of/read The World Without Us by Alan Weisman? I'm only about a third of the way through it myself, but what I've read so far has been really eye-opening and, in a way, weirdly escapist. It describes in detail, based on scientific suppositions and data from our current climate, as well as informed by pre-human climates, what the world might look like if humans were to disappear completely right now. The point of the book is not to advocate for condemning humanity or arguing that the only way for the earth to heal is for humans to be wiped out. Instead, it's an expose on the magnificent resilience of our planet, even after all this time, and I would highly recommend it to anyone interested in climate literature. Hopefully I'll find time to continue reading it soon!

[Edit] Also, thank you so so much for the shoutout! I can't tell you how much it means to me that you loved my post and want to share it with others💖

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Thanks for the recommendation, Celeste. I've added it to my fiction list because... well, we're not going away anytime soon. I hope.

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Jan 8Liked by Claudia Befu Ibarra

Stephen Markley's "The Deluge" is a must. Really gets at what's happening now and in the near future and tackles the issue from many different angles, politically, characteristically, thematically. And is super fun to read.

Also, I read KSR's "Green Mars" without reading "Red Mars" and had a great time with it. Lots of really fascinating science and political approaches to a situation not unlike ours.

Barbara Kingsolver's "Flight Behavior" is also quite lovely though perhaps not what you're looking for. Not very speculative, more about the human psychology aspect of things.

I have to say I enjoyed "How High We Go In The Dark" as an part piece but thought the book lagged on the idea-side of things. Climate change really is not part of the story.

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Jan 8Liked by Claudia Befu Ibarra

All of these are fiction btw :) I've written an essay on what climate fiction I like and what I'd like to see more of: https://climatefictionwritersleague.substack.com/p/how-to-write-climate-fiction-without

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Thanks, Denise. I'm interested in 'The Deluge' and I've added it to the list. Thanks also for linking the essay, I'll have a look. Curious if I'll find some books I already read. 😉

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The Overstory by Richard Powers.

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It’s the first book I ever read straight through and also listening to it and then started reading and listening to it for a second time the very next week. It was that impactful.

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Thank you for the recommendations, I had a look on Goodreads and I'm sold. I'll add it to my list!

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Jan 7Liked by Claudia Befu Ibarra

Thanks Claudia for the list! I read a bunch from last year and looking forward to a few from this years...and more importantly your next installments and the next collab piece on Dune!

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We're already working on the next Letter from Arrakis. Only one week to go 😁

The cli-fi list from last year was packed with gems. I loved 'The windup girl' and the 'Broken Earth' trilogy. And Octavia Buttler's 'Earthseed' blew me away... Which books did you pick up from that list?

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Jan 8Liked by Claudia Befu Ibarra

Ill keep an eye out for the next LFA! And I may have lied, or more like misspoken now that I re-read what I stated--ill say misspoken--I read a bunch of your recommended non-fiction essays from other Story Voyager posts that you linked to (thank you for doing that btw) and I read Byron and the essay The Climate of History; I do at least have the excuse at least that I didn't discover Story Voyager until October. I have picked up "Parable of the Sower" on Audible (I love what I have read of Butler including "Imago" from her Xenogenesis series) and I am going to grab "The Overstory" from Powers on your 2024 list of fiction (I really liked his book "Generosity: An Enhancement") and Stephenson's "Termination Shock (I liked his work "Snow Drift") all for my to-be-read pile. Now my only challenge: get Powers and Stephenson for my Ipad, audible, or pick up paperback versions. Thanks again for the comprehensive list.

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Happy to see that you're recommending as well some of the books from my list. This year's cli-fi was quite a blind choice in comparison to last year's and there's nothing worse than reading mediocre books. 😅

I am not planning on writing reviews after I read the books but I would be interested to know your impressions on the reads. Perhaps over on Notes. ☺️

Thank you for going through the archives of Story Voyager, I'm honoured that you chose that over books 😉

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Jan 7Liked by Claudia Befu Ibarra

I loved Migrations, by Charlotte McConaghy. (Sometimes titled The Last Migration)

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🤩 I'm already in love with this book. Thanks for the recommendation, Julie!

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Jan 8Liked by Claudia Befu Ibarra

It’s a gem!

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Jan 8Liked by Claudia Befu Ibarra

Oooo! Happy it made the list! I also likes The Overstory. There are a lot of good ones out now. Eleutheria by Allegra Hyde. Damnation Spring by Ash Davidson (very balanced, about logging). Strange as This Weather Has Been by Ann Pancake (about mountaintop removal and solastalgia). The End We Start From by Megan Hunter. Gold Fame Citrus by Claire Vaye Watkins. How Beautiful We Were by Imbolo Mbue. All stellar.

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So many recommendations, thank you! I'll keep them for next year or maybe switch some from my 2024 list. 😁

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💚

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Jan 7Liked by Claudia Befu Ibarra

Such a good reading list. And I haven’t heard of any of that fiction! Excited to check them out. I’d also be curious to know your thoughts about Land of Milk & Honey.

I had similar difficulties with plastic. And you’re right, takeout is an issue, though I’m glad that many places have paper takeout containers now. And when we visited Germany everywhere wrapped our food up in foil which was good. But it did inspire me to get creative: for instance, I couldn’t find any floss that wasn’t in a plastic container, but I COULD find a reusable floss container that only needs to be refilled with floss. Some things like that will stick with me. I do still believe plastic use should be regulated by the government though rather than by the individual user. But it was good to be aware of personally.

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I haven’t had the chance to read Land of Milk and Honey. I’ll check it out.

Yeah, the plastic challenge turned out to be tougher than I thought. I did it once for 2.5 months while traveling in Asia and it was easier. One big difference is that here in the west I buy all the groceries in a supermarket and everything is packed in plastic. I had to tempos give up so many food items that are staples in my kitchen like tofu, tempeh, paneer, Parmesan.

I know the reusable floss tiny bottles. They look so cute.

Are you still planning on moving to Europe?

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Jan 7Liked by Claudia Befu Ibarra

Yes! In May! We still don’t know which job offer my husband is going to accept (still two options on the table), but both are based in Europe (France and Germany) and it’s going to be whichever one has the most remote ability. No matter what, we’re starting in Portugal then we’re traveling in Spain for a few months before he starts his job!

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Could be that it's a bit warmer in France (would be my only consideration when selecting an European country). In any case, this is exciting. Moving to a new continent!

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Jan 8Liked by Claudia Befu Ibarra

I am personally all in for France, but I think my husband likes the German job better.... So many things to consider!

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I will tell you a little secret: I've never been to France 🫣 No idea why, even though I travel a lot and I even speak some French for emergency situations (10 years of French in school). But I've been to Germany. Apart from the weather and the people all is good. I'm kidding about the people, of course! Germans are great folks, adventurous and they really run an egalitarian society. You notice it a lot when you work with them. Everyone has a voice.

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Jan 9Liked by Claudia Befu Ibarra

Ok you are just stoking the fears I already have about Germany haha. But that company is international so his job would actually be very rotational (a month in Barcelona, a month in Hong Kong, a bout in Mexico City, etc). But yes, you have to go to France! That's where I've spent the most time in Europe so I'm excited to branch out, but wow what a beautiful country!

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Excellent list, good chart. I will add to the Climate Change shortly.

Vale.

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Thank you, I’m looking forward to your book recommendation.

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Sorry if I was not being clear: I am going to write a Climate Change story and submit it for you consideration.

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I'm looking forward to reading your story!

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Today at 15:00 EST.

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