Released in the "Ecocritical Theory and Practice" series (begun in 2007), this groundbreaking collection offers a thoughtful exploration of 20th- and 21st-century fiction and its treatment of mass extinction, with all its complex issues. Known to have occurred at least five times in Earth’s geologic past, mass extinction is defined as “a significant reduction in the number of individual organisms inhabiting the planet and at the same time a significant reduction in the diversity of species made up by those organisms" (p. 4). The introduction provides valuable background on the origins of environmental extinction fiction in the 1880s and its growth since the 1970s into the genres of climate fiction (popularly known as cli-fi) and extinction studies. The eight essays examine works by major American, British, and French writers, including Thomas Pynchon, H. P. Lovecraft, Jeff Vandermeer, Louise Erdrich, Eric Chevillard, China Mieville, Robert J. Sawyer, Michael Crichton (in the Jurassic Park novels), and J. K. Jemisin (in The Broken Earth trilogy). This book has much to add to the discussion of the role of storytelling in shaping the dialogue of climate change, and the challenges the book addresses offer avenues for future research in philosophy, spirituality, and politics. Though focused on literature, the book will be valuable in all disciplines. Summing Up: Recommended. Lower-division undergraduates through faculty; general readers.
5/26/22, Choice: This book was featured in a roundup titled, “Extinction: Matter and Mind.”