Book Review: Clade by James Bradley

Clade by James Bradley.

Reviewed by Diana Jane Heath.


In an ABC Radio show, Australian writer James Bradley talked about his new book, Clade, which centres on a climate scientist, Dr Adam Leith, and three generations of his family as they seek to navigate their way in a world that is experiencing the severe effects of catastrophic climate change. The time-frame for this book caught my attention as it begins in the very near future – in 2016 – and then continues over sixty years. 

The novel starts with Adam working in Antarctica, but instead of thinking about his work, his thoughts are on his partner, Elle, who is in Sydney trying to conceive a child through the IVF program.  As the natural world begins to breakdown, with an onslaught of violent storms and floods, and where entire species, like birds and bees are fast disappearing, Adam raises a pertinent question about “ bringing a child into a world in which the sheer volume of human population is one of the major problems that is driving climate change, and the degradation of the biosphere” (Bradley 2015). 

One of the interesting aspects of this interview is that Bradley “actively resisted” writing a apocalyptic novel, as his aim was not to foreground the natural disasters, but to focus on the personal lives of the characters as they “intersect with each other, and the events” (Bradley 2015) that are happening around them.

Another interesting theme in the book is the focus on virtual technology as a replacement for the natural world.  As forests are destroyed and oceans become poisoned, the characters are able to access virtual worlds.  Aside from the socio-political bent of the novel, which Bradley acknowledges, his main premise was not only to “articulate” the violent effects of climate change upon our human existence, but also to emphasise the importance of looking “to the future with hope” (Bradley 2015). 

Clade sounds like a fascinating book and considering the increase in natural disasters, and the controversial arguments about future climate change, it is very pertinent narrative for our time.



James Bradley – Clade 2015, ABC Radio National, Sydney, 5 April, Retrieved 2 May 2015, from <>

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