Suzanne F. Boswell
“The Four Tourists of the Apocalypse: Figures of the Anthropocene in Caribbean Climate Fiction”
Scholars of climate fiction often argue that climate change creates narrative innovation: an apocalypse, a generic shift (away from realism), or a historiographical transition (to the Anthropocene). This article looks at Caribbean climate fiction in order to highlight literary responses to the Anthropocene that revolve around stasis and stagnation rather than innovation. In Yoss’s A Planet for Rent, tourist authorities preserve the environment in a nostalgic past that avoids ecological catastrophe: a utopia for visitors, and a space of permanent apocalypse for locals. Nalo Hopkinson’s “Inselberg” uses the figure of the zombie to break down the barrier between tourist and local, unpacking the colonial violence of preservation for all to see. Caribbean climate fiction focuses on figures of apocalyptic stagnation—the tourist and the zombie—because Caribbean literature responds to a radically different Anthropocene than Western climate fiction, one in which the overarching result of the Anthropocene is environmental stasis, not metamorphosis, and one in which catastrophe comes not from environmental change, but from environmental preservation. This article ultimately makes a case for seeking formal narrative responses to the Anthropocene beyond obvious generic innovation, arguing that postcolonial responses to climate change may instead be found in stagnation, ennui and violent repetition.