I will present this paper at the Disruptive Imaginations conference in Dresden, Germany in August 2023:

As scientists warn that the world is close to ‘irreversible’ climate breakdown, Climate Fiction (Cli-Fi) continues to furnish our imagination with grim scenarios. The genre favours the dystopian form to explore the social and psychological consequences of the destructive impact of human activity on our planet. However, one may wonder whether the endless depiction of depressing futures may not in fact yield diminishing returns in terms of the intended warning function and instead convince audiences to give up hope altogether.

While ‘mainstream’ authors of Cli-Fi are often praised by literary critics for their Sprachmächtigkeit, that is, their ability to couch the destruction of our world in poetic language, and routinely translated into English, they are rarely called out for endlessly repeating their defeatist message and anaesthetizing their readers.

My paper will situate German-language contributions to the genre within the global Cli-Fi production and its critical reception, before homing in on German Cli-Fi. By contrasting dystopian texts like Ilija Trojanows EisTau (2011, engl The Lamentations of Zeno), Karen Duwes Macht (2018, engl The Prepper Room) and Andreas Brandhorst’s Oxygen (2023) that feed on their readers’ eco-anxiety with more hopeful ones like Theresa Hannigs Pantopia (2022), Heiko von Tschischwitz’ Die Welt kippt, (2022), as well as ‘progressive’ YA novels like Sarah Raich’s All That’s Left (2021) and Judith and Christian Vogt’s Laylayland (2022), I will seek to tease out their contribution to a global discourse.