Title: Back to the Garden
Author: Clara Hume
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Print publication date: 2nd Edition: 2015
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Clara Hume’s speculative ecofiction, Back to the Garden, takes the reader through apocalyptic America, after climate change and other ecological disasters have devastated the planet. A group of survivors heads out to find loved ones, meanwhile facing painfully nostalgic memories of a better world as well as struggling through personal loss and tragedy. Across fierce deserts and ghost towns, contaminated lakes and rivers, and deplorable faces of death, the group develops surprising relationships and resolutions.
Back to the Garden presents a frightening and tragic possibility for our future but doesn’t ignore our affirmative connection to nature and other people. The novel attempts to open people’s eyes to the importance of respecting limits, before it’s too late.
Book illustration credits: Background outside cover image © Can Stock Photo Inc./dagadu; inside cover photography by Chase Matthews; cover design by Mary Woodbury
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A folksy tale in some unspecified future when life has become more simple and more basic, travel is harder, and people live local lives. The protagonists here live on the side of a mountain, eking out a life. They go on a journey to try to find old friends and family. Each chapter is told from the point of view of one of the protagonists. It works. It’s redemptive and hopeful.
In this near future novel, Clara Hume tells us how different individuals might fare on a warmer, ecologically degraded Earth. It’s a post-apocalyptic novel similar to The Road but with more optimism, or The Dog Stars but with less violence.
A group of survivors decide to leave their mountain refuge in Idaho and journey across the continent to visit family in Georgia and South Carolina. The chapters are all first person narratives, but told by different characters. This very effectively conveys how diverse individuals react to the joys, hardships, and terrors of a long journey across a harsh but familiar landscape.
A journey that’s part standard apocalyptic narrative and part Wizard of Oz.
-Rebecca Tuhus-Dubrow, in Dissent Magazine
Clara Hume has written a powerful prophecy of the future, and not so far away at that. If we don’t solve the pressing environment issues of today, the scenario she depicts may very well come to pass.
I really liked this book. The book is about a small group of survivors who live on a mountaintop in Idaho. The world has undergone a dramatic climate change which has decimated most of the population. Those on the mountaintop have been living there for many, many years, but decide to journey out into the world to find their parents. Along the way, they pick up several survivors and form a family. It is dystopian in nature, but I really liked the characters and their relationships to each other.
-Becky at Goodreads
- Amazing Stories: Can Environmental SF Help Save Our Planet?
- Joe Follansbee Interview
- Because It Matters
- Weathering the Change, Voya Magazine
- Cli-Fi: Birth of a Genre, Dissent Magazine
Also discussed in:
Gary Paul Nabhan (2016). Ethnobiology for the Future: Linking Cultural and Ecological Diversity. University of Arizona Press, p. 278.
Martin Bunzi (2014). Uncertainty and the Philosophy of Climate Change. Routledge, p. 175.