Marianne de Pierres is the author of the popular PARRISH PLESSIS trilogy and the award-winning SENTIENTS OF ORION and PEACEMAKER series.
The PARRISH PLESSIS series has been translated into many languages and adapted into a role-playing game, while the PEACEMAKER series is being adapted into a novel adventure game. The sequel to PEACEMAKER, MYTHMAKER was just released by Angry Robot Books.
Fictional dystopias born from climate change are increasingly prevalent in fiction. Not that it’s a new concept … JG Ballard wrote The Wind from Nowhere, The Drowned World and The Burning World back in the ’60s, and they weren’t the first CliFi novels by any means. Jules Verne, I believe, wrote one in 1889. Recently though, the sub-genre has gained momentum as particularly seen in the success of Paolo Bacigalupi’s The Windup Girl, and Margaret Atwood’s Oryx and Crake trilogy.
When I first read The Drowned World back in the late ’80s, I was mesmerised by the worldbuilding and terrified by its languorous inevitability. I think it’s featured in my nightmares ever since. Reading such a pessimistic forecast was a defining moment for me. I think it’s when I first became aware of the choices a writer makes in their fiction. How they present the things they want to say.
In my recent PEACEMAKER/MYTHMAKER series, I imagined the main character as a park ranger tending the last remaining walled-off tract of natural bushland. The further I pursued this idea, the more I realised that I was writing a book with themes of overpopulation and mismanaged natural resources. Not so much true cli-fi, more like enviro-fic. I chose to make the PEACEMAKER series a half a step back from a full blown dystopia. It’s situated between we’re-way-past-warnings and not-quite-completely-cataclysmic stages. In PEACEMAKER there is still room for deniers and those who chose ignorance over awareness. To me, there seems to be power in that space. It’s unlikely that readers will feel banged about the head with the subtext of the story, but it offers glimpses at a could-be future and a fully embodied warning.
More than that, the enviro fic side of the story defines the main character, Virgin Jackson. Her life is committed to preserving the park, and she would, literally, do anything to save it. The reader is never for a moment unclear of her motivation or the stakes. What they do more gradually learn is why she feels that way – the history around her becoming the park’s passionate advocate and defender.
I’m currently undertaking post graduate research in the creative writing discipline and my university cohort is filled with students whose projects investigate all aspects of climate fiction and non-fiction. These are not a response to genre trends or even commercially-based decisions. They come from a deep desire to have something meaningful and influential to say about our future.
It makes me proud to be a writer.