29 Comments

This was exquisite, beautifully written and compelling. Not much more I can add I’m afraid 😂

My vote’s for Shia.

Expand full comment
author

Thanks for the vote, Stephen. 🙏

Expand full comment
Jul 11, 2023·edited Jul 11, 2023Liked by Claudia Befu Ibarra

Finally I've read this & it did not disappoint! I love how you set the scene with lush kelp forests vs. hot desert wasteland. The culture of Japanese immigrants was very interesting to me as well, I think you captured the mixture of old & new very well. And the ending! I did not see it coming but I love the continuity of Shia & Lucius going on to lead their own life & have children. The cycle continues.

Expand full comment
author

Dear Vanessa, thanks so much for reading and for your feedback, I really appreciate hearing back from readers. 🥰

I was so worried that the ending is going to be so transparent for people and you are the second person who tells me they didn't see it coming. I'm very happy! I knew the ending of this story from the beginning, the story started with the ending actually.

Expand full comment
Jun 29, 2023Liked by Claudia Befu Ibarra

It took me far too long to make time to read this breathtaking story. You should not make the same mistake. Claudia renders a tragically beautiful world so complete and immersive that it feels sensual even as it’s breaking your heart.

This is something I rarely experience when reading science fiction. Too often, the “science” tips the balance of the scales leaving a story void of humanity. The story follows a grieving mother as she’s filming a documentary about a voluntary human sacrifice set as a counterbalance to pay for the sins of the generations before who ravaged the natural world leaving it a barren wasteland.

Claudia’s descriptions of the detail in this future world are both lush and spare making it a pleasure to read. She achieves something all of us fiction writers aspire to in how she’s able to light up the brains of readers making us feel as if we’re watching an elegantly produced film.

This story deserves to be read by a much wider audience for so many reasons, but mostly because it’s just a pleasure to read.

Bravo, Claudia!

Expand full comment
author

Dear Ben, I've kept your comment close to my heart for the past week. Thank you so much for the kind words and for your support, I truly appreciate it and it gives me immense satisfaction to know that I managed to create a moment of delight for you as a reader. I hope that you're enjoying your vacation.

Expand full comment

Most welcome, Claudia. Looking forward to reading more!

Expand full comment
author

I'm working on the next one and will publish it at the end of June. :)

Expand full comment

Finally had the time to read part ii. I read part I some time ago, so when Nova started to talk into the mike with no one there I needed a moment to remember that she is recording herself for the docu. That's on me. Wonderful conclusion, Claudia. I vote for Lucius.

Expand full comment
author

Thanks so much for reading, Alexander. I'm also a bit behind with the reading as the day job has been very demanding lately and there's only so much time in the day. I really appreciate you taking the time to read this. 🤩

Two votes for Lucius so far. Shia seems to be in the lead, but let's see.

Expand full comment
Apr 30, 2023Liked by Claudia Befu Ibarra

OK, I have read both parts. I liked the first more than the second.

It's good, you can turn a phrase and paint a picture. It's just "preachy". A tad heavy handed in the messaging.

Who is your audience? Who do you want to read this?

It will appeal to people who believe in Climate Change and are already attuned to your message. But, it's not going to get much traction outside of a pretty small niche. You are preaching to the choir and that's about all who are going to listen.

Consider the "Climate Novel in History". Which you are right, we put this topic in the sci-fi ghetto. Where cultures obliquely talk about things they don't want to talk about openly. Anyway, here are some examples of Cli-fi books in the sci-fi genre. Let's consider them.

Two Deniers

Fallen Angels (1992)

by Jerry Pournelle, Larry Niven, Michael Flynn

Book Overview

Two Space Hab astronauts are shot down over the North Dakota glacier by the new Eco-totalitarian government given carte blanche to control the greenhouse effect.

If you don't know who these guys were, then you don't know much about sci-fi from the 60's/70's/80's. These guys were hugely influential. In this book, they became "Global Warming Deniers". They stated that, contrary to "alarmist" fears there was actually going to be another ice age. They pushed the theory that Milankovitch Cycles controlled the Climate and it was going to get colder.

You still find Climate Change Deniers who believe this idea. This book influenced a lot of sci-fi readers.

State of Fear (2004)

Michael Crichton (better known for Jurassic Park)

Book Overview

A techno-thriller novel by Michael Crichton, whose villain falsifies scientific studies to justify draconian steps to curb global warming. Basically, eco-terrorists plot mass murder to publicize the danger of global warming and scare the world into accepting an Eco-Dictatorship.

Crichton is another "Climate Denier". This book was on the best seller list. Climate Deniers bring up Crichton all the time.

"Crichton, who has studied the issue extensively, rejects many of the conclusions reached by the National Academy of Sciences and Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change—for example, he does not believe that global temperature increases in recent decades are most likely the result of human activities". Jan 28, 2005 Brookings Institute

Two Realists

Natures End (1986)

Whitley Strieber and James Kunetka

Book Overview

It is 2025 and the planet is rapidly approaching environmental death. Dr. Gupta Singh, a Hindu guru with a Jim Jones-like following, has proposed the suicide, by lottery, of one-third of the world's population. His followers have elected a Depopulationist majority in Congress. ...

If you can find this book you should read it. It's eerily spot on about today's climate reality. It's a very good read and was also influential. Stieber was an up and coming sci-fi star but got derailed after he wrote a book on Alien Contact. He went waaaaay down that rabbit hole and lost all credibility. It's a shame, this book is brilliant.

The Ministry of the Future (2020)

Kim Stanley Robinson

Book Overview

Established in 2025, the purpose of the new organization was simple: To advocate for the world's future generations and to protect all living creatures, present and future. It soon became known as the Ministry for the Future, and this is its story. Told entirely through fictional eye-witness accounts, The Ministry for the Future is the story of how climate change will affect us all over the decades to come.

Well, if you haven't read this, then you need to. It's the Cli-fi book of the last decade that is already a classic. Also, incredibly well researched and insightful.

None of these books is as directly "preachy" as your story feels. It turns people off and feels a little forced. As if you forced the story to give you the setting to make your speech.

As someone with a doctorate in anthropology, I found your sacrifice ritual believable and consistent with practices in many cultures across space and time.

Why would wood be gone completely?

I agree that most of the worlds trees will burn and many will go extinct without human intervention. But why would ALL wooden artifacts have vanished? That seems improbable yet is a major point in your story.

Also, how much sea level rise do you think will happen?

Even if both poles melted completely, and ALL the glaciers, sea level would only rise about 300 feet. That's not enough to make Japan uninhabitable. Not unless something else like a radiation disaster or major earthquakes destroy significant parts of it.

You need to do a little more world building and backstory to flesh things out. You mention the "Data Wars" but no dates or other information. There's not enough context to place this moment in time and so it feels disconnected and didn't draw me in.

I liked the first part better.

Expand full comment

Your descriptions are absolutely lovely, Claudia. I don't think I've read any climate fiction set so far in the future, and I enjoyed the ideas you put forth about what life might be like there, and what it might be worth. Thanks for sharing! And I agree with the others, I think a future letter from Shia would be the most interesting. 😊

Expand full comment
author

Thank you for your feedback, Elnora, especially on how I imagined that future.

With these five short stories planned for ‘There Is Hope’ I am trying to answer a question: What if we don't change anything? How will life look like in 500 years if we don't do anything about climate change? And for me, climate change is much more than CO2 emissions. It's a whole paradigm of thinking about humanity, its place in the universe and the way it relates to the natural world.

We currently think that we have an objective and scientific approach of looking at the world. But seeing how this led to climate change and a terrible destruction of nature on our planet, I’m left wondering: is our way of looking at the world really as objective as we think it is? Or is it rather based on a paradigm of thinking that is not completely ok? If 500 years of humanism—putting the human being at the centre of everything and making everything else subordinate to us, a means to fulfil our needs and aspirations—have led us here, where will we be 500 years from now if we continue on this path?

Expand full comment

An interesting thought experiment for sure! And important to think about, since all signs point to things getting worse before they get better. 😕 But there is always hope! 🌟

Expand full comment
author

The hope lies in changing our perspective.

Expand full comment
Apr 25, 2023Liked by Claudia Befu Ibarra

“The gentle strokes of the drums now resemble the muted sound of rain on a metal rooftop. A soft hum rises from the crowd, and the limbs of the chosen ones seem to grow heavier and heavier, their heads bobbing.”

You have such a gift for word building and description! Nova’s story was compelling the whole way through. Remarkable work, truly.

My vote is Lucius!

Expand full comment
author

Thanks for reading Taegan and for the vote. Lucius would definitely be an interesting POV. I’ll think about it.

World building and descriptions… I’ll definitely need to check how I can bring this to the next level. I like to focus on developing my strengths and I already got positive feedback about these two from a couple of people. I actually have a great book at home about building secondary worlds that I need to study. Thanks a lot!

Expand full comment
Apr 24, 2023·edited Apr 24, 2023Liked by Claudia Befu Ibarra

Staggeringly beautiful and moving. I ... I don't think I have anything to say. This was just incredible, so vivid, so much present here in the history, the ritual, Nova's emotions bleeding through the text. It's a perfect two-part story.

My vote would be Shia. Either a letter from just before this, or long after.

(The only edit I spotted/wondered was I think you need a " ' " speech mark at the start of the new paragraphs when Nova is still narrating to the microphone. Unless I'm misreading those.

Oh, and that's a brilliant way to handle the exposition, by the way.)

Expand full comment
author

Thank you so much, Nathan! This is very kind of you, I’m happy that you enjoyed the second part. Honestly, I was quite nervous about it because it’s the part that changed the least during the extended editing of this story.

Shia is definitely an interesting character. Thanks for voting!

I also fixed the quotations for the long dialogue at the beginning. The worldbuilding was added in one of the last edits, then I thought about taking it out, and then the idea came: Nova needs to narrate the documentary! It’s a thinly veiled attempt at avoiding on-the-face exposition, I’m glad it worked! 😁

Expand full comment
Apr 25, 2023Liked by Claudia Befu Ibarra

PS I only think you need the quotation marks at the start of the new paragraph when she's still speaking as a continuation from the previous paragraph. Only needs the closing one on the final paragraph of that monologue. That's how I've always understood it anyway... I could be wrong!

Expand full comment
author

Thank you 🙏 I think I got it now! 😅

Expand full comment
Apr 25, 2023Liked by Claudia Befu Ibarra

It absolutely works! It totally makes sense. The way she narrates it *feels* like she's narrating a documentary. It serves the purpose perfectly, whilst also showing more of her character and role. Brilliantly done!

Expand full comment
author

Your feedback on this piece makes me think that I need to follow my instincts more when I write and not overthink things too much. I’ll try it in my next story.

How is it with you? Do you edit your fiction a lot? Does it come out almost done from the first draft?

Expand full comment
Apr 25, 2023Liked by Claudia Befu Ibarra

I think it's safe to say you can trust your instincts ;)

My edits are extensive, haha. But I think they're extensive from getting the precise wording/feeling to where I want it to be, less so on the actual segments. But I'm always questioning whether it's too much editing or not enough. I tend to write in little bursts. I can't just write write write and then come back to edit. I have to write, read, re-read, edit, write ... etc. I'm a bit OCD maybe. It's like cooking, maybe. I have to clean as I cook. With my wife... it's more of a site that gets cleaned only once the meal is made. 🤣

Expand full comment
author

It looks like we have a very similar approach. Sometimes I agonize over single paragraphs that I end up not including in the final version. And I also write in small bursts. I need to feel the story, I need to get into the atmosphere, I basically have to be there. Every paragraph needs to feel done before I can move on otherwise the whole thing doesn’t flow.

I want to play more with my intuition in the future and allow the story to lead me instead of me forcing it in a certain direction. Though I need to know how my stories will end before I start writing.

Expand full comment
Apr 25, 2023Liked by Claudia Befu Ibarra

I hear on you the whole feeling the story.

I tend to let the story lead me at times. Sometimes I have no idea until I sit down and let my fingers feel the keys. Perhaps not the best strategy, but I'm certainly more of a gardener than an architect, if that terminology is still used.

Expand full comment