Title: Back to the Garden
Author: Clara Hume
Note: This current stand-alone novel is now being edited to launch the new Wild Mountain series. Part II is titled To the Waters and the Wild. The new edition is slated to be published in early 2018.
Clara Hume’s speculative ecofiction, Back to the Garden, is told from the perspective of a group of “tipping point” survivors–a generation of mountain folks who have experienced the collapse of late-stage capitalism, along with widespread ecosystem degradation due to climate change. It is within the framework of a unique time, when these characters live through two worlds, vastly different from one another, that they tell their tales, a way of documenting their journeys in life.
While the friends and family in this novel struggle to survive, and overcome personal losses and grief, they do so with the strength of character that allows people to gracefully succeed during times of societal failure. They understand that true riches of life come from the great outdoors and from their relationships with each other. They learn to survive and adapt in a climate-changed world. Part “road” novel, part survival tale, and part romance, this literary novel looks into the human psyche as people similar to how we imagine ourselves find hope in the face of disaster.
Back to the Garden presents a frightening and tragic possibility for our future but doesn’t ignore our affirmative connection to the wilderness and to 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.