Tuesday, September 19, 2017


by James Bradley
Penguin 2015

This is amongst the best cli-fi I've read. The book is a collection of ten stories stretched across several generations of the same complicated family. The stories are in chronological order and we see the environment deteriorating globally and locally as the book progresses. Most of the stories (chapters?) focus on a single character dealing with a local catastrophe.

Adam is the first character we meet, a worried scientist in Antarctica contemplating his wife's fertility treatment and wondering whether having a child is rational thing to do (I thought this was probably the strongest story). We also meet Summer, his rebellious daughter, battling with an autistic child through a devastating flood. Later on other characters grapple with epidemics and extinctions. Some chapters deal with rather different themes, such as the search for extraterrestrial life.

By jump-cutting through the decades we witness the planet change for the worse in a way that is impossible to show in a single narrative. However the jumps between the stories are sometimes discombobulating. The first two stories deal directly with Adam and his family. The third story feels very jarring indeed as we are abruptly introduced to unrelated characters and the theme moves onto cancer rather than climate change.

The novel doesn't explain the name "Clade" so I looked it up on wikipedia: "A clade is a group of organisms that consists of a common ancestor and all its lineal descendants, and represents a single branch on the tree of life". Ok, nice. I guess the name reflects the family connections between the characters in the story.

This is a fairly short book, there are only ten stories and all up it weighs in around 50 000 words. You could read it all at once or just pick a story here and there. But definitely give it a look.

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