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I'm With the Bears: Short Stories from a Damaged Planet

3.30  ·  Rating details ·  378 ratings  ·  54 reviews
The magnitude of the global climate crisis is such that even the most committed environmentalists are liable to live in a state of denial. The award-winning writers collected here have made it their task to shake off this disbelief, bringing the incomprehensible within our grasp and shaping an emotional response to mankind’s unwitting creation of a tough new planet. From T ...more
Paperback, 208 pages
Published October 1st 2011 by Verso
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Chris Blocker
Jan 22, 2012 rated it liked it
A collection of short stories focusing on climate change, I'm With the Bears boasts an impressive list of writers and supports a worthy mission. Despite its initial promise, I'm With the Bears isn't all that impressive. Some of the stories revolve around an interesting subject, while others disappoint. What really plagues this collection is that almost all of the stories feel incomplete. There are some great sketches or drafts of stories here, but they never quite deliver.

The cover states that r
Nov 22, 2016 rated it it was ok
I’m With the Bears: Short Stories from a Damaged Planet is a compilation of ten short stories written by ten different authors: Margaret Atwood, Paolo Bacigalupi, I.C Boyle, Toby Litt, Lydia Millet and David Mitchell, just to say some. Although each one of them has its own style they are all written in short and mostly simple sentences to create an effect of urgency, anxiety and fear in the reader. That, I believe is the success of the book. It does create an atmosphere of shock and fear by whic ...more
Dan Power
Feb 19, 2020 rated it it was ok
ohhh man short story collections are not a fun read! A few real gems in here, but mostly they varied between okay or straight-up not enjoyable - climate change is something I'm passionate about and also something criminally under-written (an exciting combo for finding something cool!), but idk if this is the right medium to do it any justice. The stories are so stop-start that ideas don't get expanded, picked apart, explored; instead they quickly start to repeat themselves. A few stories were on ...more
Ran Prieur
Feb 14, 2014 rated it it was ok
Although some of the money from this book is going to fight climate change, there is not a single story about climate change being stopped. I suppose that would be too implausible. Instead the stories are arranged to form a bleak narrative in which we first fail to prevent climate catastrophe, and then we suffer from it, and then (with a few exceptions) we fail to recover.

I thought there were a lot of boring bits and preachy bits, but also some great stuff. My favorites are the four in the middl
Miss Bookiverse
I really enjoyed half the stories (Boyle's, Millet's, Rich's, Mitchell's, and Atwood's) and was very bored by the other half. Also, I don't think the editor did a very good job with the overall composition of the collection. First of all, two of them are actually extracts from novels and I hate it when these are included in short story collections, especially if you only figure this out after looking at the imprint text. Second of all, for a collection about the environment, with an introduction ...more
Nov 17, 2015 rated it it was ok
The introduction by Bill McKibben is great with some eye opening information about climate change. for example: 2010 - the warmest year on record. Nineteen nations set new all time temperature records. In all of recorded time the temperature had never hit 100 before in Moscow, but in August, 2010 it happened eight times. Normal annual rainfall in Pakistan averags three feet a year, but twelve feet fell in one week! The Indus river swelled until it coverage an area the size of Britain.

But the st
Karl-Friedrich Lenz
I don't like giving less than three stars to any fiction dealing with global warming, but this was just too awful.

The only story I halfway liked was the piece by Bacigalupo, which I had already read in his own collection "Pump Six".

The story by the Italian collective was annoying as hell. The story by Margaret Atwood wasn't a story, but only a couple of paragraphs of mildly interesting prose. I know she can do better than that.

Not one story in the whole volume gave an idea of what to actually do
Jun 26, 2013 rated it it was ok
A great concept - an anthology of climate-change themed stories - with an impressive list of writers but mediocre results. Not a single stand-out among the pieces. Particularly problematic were those excerpted from novels (about a third of the collection) as they lacked the tension and closure of actual shorts.

While I'm glad that the proceeds for the book's sale went to McKibben's, the emissions required for the paper, printing and distribution of the book seem counterproductive. Perhap
Christopher Wright
May 15, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Well unlike a lot of other reviewers I found this collection an engrossing introduction to the climate fiction genre. Starting with Bill McKibben’s excellent short introduction, nearly all of these short fictional accounts are emotionally and conceptually engaging. High points for me were T.C. Boyle’s ‘The Siskiyou, July 1989’ – a powerful story of a thwarted environmental protest and a father’s love for his daughter; Helen Simpson’s ‘Diary of an Interesting Year’, a convincing and ghastly imagi ...more
Albert Faber
Feb 27, 2018 rated it it was ok
Short stories from a damaged planet is an apt subtitle for this collection. The general theme is dystopia, introduced by Bill McKibben so we know it all has to do with climate change spiralled out of control. Most stories picture a Mad Max-scape, a world of subsistence survival in a world of natural poverty, often overseen either by rambling gangs of thugs or a 1984-type autocratic government. These dystopian worlds are about loss and regret, very much variations on the end-scene of Planet of th ...more
Feb 01, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: cli-fi, short-stories
This is a useful collection for teaching cli-fi and it was thoroughly enjoyable, though it suffered some for its breadth; I wish it had focused more narrowly on a single environmental theme. The stories didn't hang together to form a coherent anthology, and each seemed invested in its own agenda in a disconcerting way. I enjoyed David Mitchell's contribution the most, perhaps because he used it to flesh out the best part of The Bone Clocks. I also loved T. C. Boyle's story of Earth Firsters, "Sa ...more
Dec 02, 2018 rated it liked it
Second volume for my global environmentalism book group. I won;t be able to attend the meeting this week, which is too bad, as I have MANY questions about these stories. To me, they seem a bit "uneven", and the speculative nature of them is curious when we know so much about what IS happening to the environment. I guess the wild card is that we don't know how humans will always respond, and these stories attempt to show that. My favorites were TC Boyle's "The Siskiyou, July, 1989" and Margaret A ...more
Albertus Januardy
May 04, 2019 rated it liked it
I'm With the Bears

Falls a bit short despite its intriguing premise, a collection of short stories by some of my favourite author, (Atwood, Mitchell, Bacigalupi).
Some of the stories are really good, some of them don't really leave the same impression.
But nonetheless, I found it sad and impressive at the same time that these dystopian stories about environmental and climate changes, some of them from few decades ago, feels even more and more relevant nowadays. It really does provoke us to think "W
Darian Lorrain
Jul 31, 2020 rated it it was ok
I really enjoy climate fiction, and short stories, so I'm not exactly sure how this collection went so terribly wrong. There are a few stories I enjoyed, but overall the book was painfully boring and failed to engage me in a subject (climate change) that I am already deeply passionate about, so I consider that a major flop. Especially surprising given the impressive assortment of writers (of course they boast that Margaret Atwood is featured but she wrote a 2 page story, so maybe don't let that ...more
Sep 21, 2020 rated it liked it
This book of short stories is notable for the Bacigalupi story that led to his book “The Water Knife” and for a short piece by Margaret Atwood which is, as always, brilliant. There are a couple more stories that are at least interesting, but the rest of the book is filler crap that barely even conforms to the theme of the book, which is the consequences of global climate change; they are more interested in talking about kids and god and relationships. Yuck, save it for the romance novel section.
Rob Caswell
Oct 19, 2019 rated it it was ok
Unfortunately I found this a disappointing and forgettable read. Most of the stories lacked a solid structure and compelling message. Instead most of the works seemed like prosaic mood exercises, providing vaguely climate change themes woven into a setting in search of a story. Even the SF headliners here - Kim Stanley Robinson, Margaret Atwood, and Paulo Bacigalupi - left me underwhelmed.

I guess the consolation is that at least a portion of this purchase went to a good cause:
Apr 25, 2020 rated it liked it
Kind of uneven, but not unexpected as a collection of short stories from various authors. TC Boyle's is the best written overall. Helen Simpson's post-apocalyptic "Diary of an Interesting Year" is surely, and appropriately, no Bridget Jones's Diary. Stark and sadly plausible. Margaret Atwood's contribution, while fleeting, is also quite affecting. ...more
Erika Janet
Nov 04, 2020 rated it it was ok
If you don't mind, would you be able to check out my blog. I post book reviews on there and we have discussions on my Instagram - thank you!

Bottles of Books
I’m With the Bears by Bill McKibben and Others is a collection of short stories surrounding the planet and the ecological crisis it is currently in, a crisis that is being exacerbated by humans. This collection of ten short stories are written by authors, economists and those passionate about the environment, the most well-known author bei
Nov 11, 2017 rated it it was ok
Some of the dystopian stories (Atwood's, Mitchell's) I liked! Didn't care for the rest, much. Was hopeful students could get a lot out of these stories, but I think only a few will work for the classroom! ...more
Louise McAulay
Oct 26, 2018 rated it liked it
This book should be better. Time Capsule Found on a Dead Planet by Margaret Atwood was good, but the one that really got my attention was Hermie by Nathaniel Rich. I guess it was purposely emotive and it worked for me. The other stories are a bit meh.
Jun 14, 2019 rated it really liked it
With the exception of the first story, which is great and has a blistering final sentence, the strongest stories are in the second half of the collection. I loved many of those: sharp, incisive, sometimes harrowing and always thought-provoking.
Emily Gleeson
Jan 11, 2021 rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Todd Williams
Mar 12, 2021 rated it liked it
Nice collection of authors here. I don't know that any of the pieces are extraordinary, but Bacigalupi, Robinson, and Mitchell contributions were my favorites. None of it was bad. This could certainly prove useful in a course on the subject.
Kim Zinkowski
Dec 04, 2017 rated it really liked it
B+. Good stories about post-apocalyptic times that just may be in our future.
Sep 27, 2019 rated it it was ok
Margaret Atwood’s story was great; the rest was fairly middling
Apr 30, 2020 rated it liked it
A collection of short stories with climate change being the theme.
Some were very pertinent to our current situation in a lockdown world stalked by a potentially deadly virus.
Others were just odd.
Oct 12, 2017 rated it liked it
This short story collection is definitely interesting. I did not at all enjoy all the stories equally but one of my favourites must be "The Siphoners" by David Mitchell which brings up the issue of a form of forced natural selection; describing a world where the elderly are left behind to die or asked to kill themselves because of limited resources. Another favourite of mine was "Diary of an Interesting Year" by Helen Simpson which does everything that a cli-fi novel or short story or poem shoul ...more
I read this for a grad school course about literary theory/New Materialism, and I enjoyed it. The collection begins with stories that take place during the present day and then moves into a number of dystopian visions.

My favorites were "The Siskiyou, July 1989" by TC Boyle, "The Tamarisk Hunter" by Paolo Bacigalupi (in which water from Utah and Arizona is redirected to California), and of course "Time Capsule Found on the Dead Planet" by Margaret Atwood.

The introduction by Bill McKibben is a gr
Nov 21, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: findelmundo
With a kick-ass introduction by Bill McKibben. Some good stories, some eh. And then, towards the end, it really picks up steam. The one by Paolo Bacigalupi about the American southwest being struck by a mega-drought and California sending in the National Guard to steal Colorado's water was awesome. Kim Stanley Robinson's was good. Of course. Margaret Atwood's was good. And the one by "Wu Ming 1", a member of an Italian author's collective (the name in Chinese means "anonymous") was spectacular. ...more
Sep 03, 2014 rated it liked it
I'm gonna have to agree with some of the other reviews I've read on this collection. I was not too impressed with most of the stories, and some were only loosely related to environmentalism or "the global climate crisis." I'm not sure if I was thrown off by the writing in some of the stories because many were part of larger pieces that just had this one segment removed for this anthology or if the writing wasn't stellar to begin with. I did enjoy the last two stories in the book by Paolo Bacigal ...more
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