Where's the great novel about climate change? I'd argue that to find it, you're better off leaving the world of "straight fiction" for science fiction, specifically for Kim Stanley Robinson.
Over the weekend, Robinson's latest novel, 2312, was nominated for a Hugo award, one of the most prestigious prizes in science fiction (it's also in the running for sci-fi's other big accolade, the Nebula award). But Robinson's name is already familiar to devotees of the genre. He came onto the scene in 1984 with his enigmatic novel Icehenge, and continued to write at a prolific pace, winning eleven major sci-fi awards and being nominated for more than twice that. And though he's written about everything from the plague to Yeti, his most well-known books are those that compose the Mars Trilogy (Red Mars, Green Mars, Blue Mars). The trilogy deals with the all the various implications of terraforming the red planet, from the science of the transformation to the political and social ramifications of the project. 2312 is a thrilling mystery that includes his usual themes of scientific development, political intrigue, and social experimentation. These books are the gold-standard of realistic, and highly literary, science-fiction writing.
What makes Robinson's work vital, rather than just entertaining, is his depth of the research. Many of the futures and worlds he writes about resemble a world that might find ourselves living in. Ahead of the Hugo nomination announcement, Robinson took the time to discuss with me via email some of the ideas and concerns that animate his work, including artificial intelligence, Buddhism, climate change, and the future of capitalism.