Imagining Climate Chaos A review of Damaged Planet by Mark Martin

In I’m With the Bears: Short Stories from a Damaged Planet (Verso) edited by Mark Martin, award-winning fiction writers from around the globe have contributed a collection of 10 stories that recount or foreshadow the diminishing quality of life on an ecologically unprotected, polluted and industrialized Earth.Each story in I’m With the Bears is strikingly different, from Nathaniel Rich’s “Hermie,” a short but moving story about our increasingly depleted and abandoned oceans to science fiction writer Kim Stanley Robinson’s “Sacred Space,” where a group of men find a once-treasured landscape devastated by drought. “Except for fringes of green around drying ponds, or algal mats on the exposed pond bottoms, every plant on this south-facing slope had died. It was burnt as any range in Nevada. One of the loveliest landscapes on the planet, dead before their eyes.”

While Bill McKibben, activist, author and founder of 350.org, stresses in the introduction that these stories are meant to illuminate “the unstable planet we’re creating where the background becomes the highest drama,” it’s Wu Ming 1’s poetic “Arzestula” that offers light at the end of the book’s dark tunnel: “The sun begins to rise. A day’s work awaits us, our hands are full of energy. Let’s get to work.”