Review: Clade

It’s pretty unnerving to read such a realistic retelling of the horrible things that could happen to the planet (some of which currently are). It was a well-written, very literary look at the negative effects humanity is having on our world and how that impacts the lives of everyday people.


James Bradley
Titan Books, 2017


A family from start to finish, working their way through the many crises and disasters the Earth is experiencing. Massive floods, animals dying off, fires and a sprinkling of plague. A recipe for an intense climate change novel.



The author has a very literary style that I don’t find frequently in science fiction. This was more of a subtle sci-fi book, the story told as a slice of life rather than a set of crazy cool things in the future, or horrifying possibilities with characters that are expendable. The writing is very thoughtful, hinting at the disasters in some chapters, fully explaining the experiences in others. It’s a great balance and it really makes the reader feel the story.


Following a single character isn’t anything unusual in science fiction (or any fiction for that matter), but using the popular style of bouncing between a single character’s family members and acquaintances is a style I haven’t seen in science fiction before. I like seeing that perspective of actual people experiencing actual things. Seeing your world collapse is a scary thing, and most of these people are very separated from the things happening. Instead of taking the reader into the trenches of the pandemics, we’re seeing them from a distance as so much of the world would, causing the reader to imagine what it would be like to watch something so scary from a distance. It’s very real and somewhat terrifying.


Combining the writing style with the realistic perspective makes this a very eye-opening climate change book. Everything is gradual, as it would be in the real world. First the melting, then the increased temperatures, then the fires, then the floods, and so on until you have a ravaged world with millions dead and a population just trying to move on from the dozens of people they’ve each lost. There are attempts throughout to fix the issues, but they’re too subtle and don’t create any real change – much like our current situation. Everybody is too busy living their own lives to realize the urgency of what’s to come. Following that through, showing how it could effect real people, is enlightening and intimidating.


Through it all, humanity continues to press on. So much happens to the world, yet they don’t give up. It doesn’t become a lawless wasteland or a concentration camp for the masses. It’s the regular world with different borders and a tragic past everyone is trying to reconcile. They look to the stars and think they’ve found intelligent life. That little bit of the story adds a sense of hope, that maybe humanity will finally make it to the stars in this version of the world. So many novels show bustling modern cities dripping in technology and spaceports, traveling across galaxies. This version is simply trying to continue living in a world they’ve torn apart.

Photo by Jeremy Thomas on Unsplash

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