Author ORCID Identifier

Date Available


Year of Publication


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Document Type

Master's Thesis


Arts and Sciences



First Advisor

Dr. Michael Trask


Any work of environmentally oriented fiction that seeks to represent the wide-reaching effects of climate change is faced with the problem of scale. These texts must render visible change which is at once ubiquitous and microscopic, along with the cascade of side-effects generated in the wake of rising temperature, rising sea levels, and winnowing biodiversity. In short order, these texts must fully imagine what it means to live within the modern global risk society. Borrowing this sociological model from the late Ulrich Beck, I analyze the literary work of Paolo Bacigalupi, one of the foremost authors in the growing genre of climate fiction. Arguing that Bacigalupi centers extractive industry and the concurrent problems of global resource scarcity within his fiction, I demonstrate how Beck’s model of risk society reveals the nuances of living with risk in these narratives. With particular focus on Beck’s final theories of emancipatory catastrophism, I argue that Bacigalupi’s novels complicate the possibility of social metamorphosis due to the mediation of identity and the common good by national institutions. Through this, Bacigalupi complicates attitudes and themes within the ecocritical milieu by questioning the degree to which anyone can respond to risk without knowing its source.

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)