Affection, Attraction and Aversion

Climate and Cultural Crises in “The Ice People” by Maggie Gee


  • Ilenia Vittoria Casmiri University of Ferrara



climate change, climate fiction, biophilia/biophobia, Maggie Gee, apocalypse


The multi-faceted nature of the climate crisis in The Ice People (1998) by Maggie Gee is examined from an interdisciplinary perspective aimed at highlighting ways in which the joint effort of the humanities and the sciences can achieve effective environmental communication and audience engagement. An ecocritical reading of the novel incorporates the “Biophilia Hypothesis” (1993),
a set of values through which Edward O. Wilson and Stephen Kellert have articulated genetic explanations to historical or emergent cultural patterns. Biophilic and biophobic values shed light on how humans affiliate to the other-than-human. Throughout the fictional apocalypse, biophobic values such as Aversion reveal the fracture between human beings and other species while Attraction, Affection, and other biophilic values are exploited for biophobic reasons. The values supporting our innate affiliation to nature can be identified, decoded, deconstructed, and consciously implemented to foster a novel cultural climate able to avert the climate apocalypse.


Bauer, Martin. “Socio-Demographic Correlates of DK-Responses in Knowledge Surveys: Self-Attributed Ignorance of Science.” Social Science Information 35.1 (1996): 39-68.

Cartmill, Matt. A View to a Death in the Morning: Hunting and Nature Through History. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1993.

Chess, Caron, and Brandon Johnson. “Information is Not Enough.” Creating a Climate for Change: Communicating Climate Change and Facilitating Social Change. Edited by Susanne C. Moser and Lisa Dilling. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007. 223-236.

Durant, John and Geoffrey Thomas. “Why Should we Promote the Public Understanding of Science?” Scientific Literary Papers 1 (1987): 1-14.

Dutton, Denis. The Art Instinct: Beauty, Pleasure, and Human Evolution. New York: Bloomsbury, 2009.

Foster, Dennis and Jonathan Keller. “Rallies and the ‘First Image’: Leadership Psychology, Scapegoating Proclivity, and the Diversionary Use of Force.” Conflict Management and Peace Science 27.5 (2010): 417-441.

Fromm, Erich. The Anatomy of Human Destructiveness. London: Holt, Rinehart, and Winston, 1973.

Gee, Maggie. The Ice People. London: Penguin, 1999.

Grafen, Alan. “The Hawk-Dove Game Played between Relatives.” Animal Behaviour 27.3 (1979): 905-907.

Greenblatt, Stephen et al. The Norton Anthology of English Literature: Volume 1. New York: Norton & Company, 2006.

Hulme, Mike. Why We Disagree About Climate Change: Understanding Controversy, Inaction and Opportunity. Cambridge, MA: Cambridge University Press, 2009.

Jawer, Michael and Marc Micozzi. The Spiritual Anatomy of Emotion. Rochester, VT: Park Street, 2009.

Johns-Putra, Adeline. “Care, Gender and the Climate-Changed Future: Maggie Gee’s The Ice People.” Green Planets: Ecology and Science Fiction. Edited by Gerry Canavan and Kim Stanley Robinson. Middletown: Wesleyan University Press, 2014. 127-142.

Kellert, Stephen. Birthright. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2012.

Kellert, Stephen and Edward Osborne Wilson. The Biophilia Hypothesis. Washington DC: Island Press, 1993.

Kluwick, Ursula. “The Ecological Crisis and Narrative Form.” The Oxford Handbook of Ecocriticism. Edited by Greg Garrard. New York: Oxford University Press, 2014. 502-518.

Ingold, Tim. What is an Animal? London: Routledge, 1994.

Ishiguro, Kazuo. Klara and the Sun. London: Faber & Faber, 2021.

Lessing, Doris. Mara and Dann. London: Flamingo, 1999.

Maynard Smith, John. Evolution and the Theory of Games. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1982.

McEwan, Ian. Machines Like Me. London: Jonathan Cape, 2019.

McKenzie, Alexander. “Evolutionary Game Theory.” Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Stanford University, 24 Apr. 2021, Last visited 05/10/2022.

Nuccitelli, Dana. Climatology versus Pseudoscience: Exposing the Failed Predictions of Global Warming Skeptics. Santa Barbara, CA: Praeger, 2015.

Spinozzi, Paola. “In a Prescient Mode: (Un)Sustainable Societies in the Post/Apocalyptic Genre.” Cultures of Sustainability and Wellbeing: Theories, Histories and Policies. Edited by Paola Spinozzi and Massimiliano Mazzanti. London: Routledge, 2018. 85-104.

Stern, Marc. Social Science Theory for Environmental Sustainability. New York: Oxford University Press, 2018.

Sturgis, Patrick and Nick Allum. “Science in Society: Re-evaluating the Deficit Model of Public Attitudes.” Public Understanding of Science 13.55 (2004): 55-74.

Suvin, Darko. Metamorphoses of Science Fiction: On the Poetics and History of a Literary Genre. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1979.

Thompson, John. Studies in the Theory of Ideology. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1984.

Ungar, Sheldon. “Knowledge, Ignorance and the Popular Culture: Climate Change versus the Ozone Hole.” Public Understanding of Science 9.3 (2000): 297-312.

Wagner-Lawlor, Jennifer. “Doomed by Hope.” Changing the Climate: Utopia, Dystopia and Catastrophe. Edited by Andrew Milner, Simon Sellars and Verity Burgmann. Arena Printing and Publishing Pty, 2011. 173-195.

White Jr., Lynn. “The Historical Roots of Our Ecologic Crisis.” Science, 155.3767 (1967): 1203-1207.

Wilson, Edward Osborne. Biophilia. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1984.

Winterson, Jeanette. Fran-Kiss-Stein: A Love Story. London: Random House, 2019.

---. The Stone Gods. London: Faber & Faber, 2009.