The Wizard of O2

“Now you must be careful. The Wicked Weather of the West is a cunning shapeshifter.”

Quentin D. Young‘s comic-book, The Wizard of O2 re-imagines the classic tale to bring us back to the Land of Oz for a 21st-century adventure in science and magic, creating space for humor and hope in the face of climate catastrophe.


Scarecrow: “Now you must be careful. The Wicked Weather of the West is a cunning shapeshifter. For me, she came in the form of a drought. Dried out the crops and put me out of a job!”

Lion: “For me, she was a fiery heatwave that killed the little animals. All the yummy ones too. Now I’m a starving performer, and Scarecrow uses the money to buy cat food!”

Dolores: “What about Tin Man? Where’s he?”

Quentin Young is a writer, climate communicator and emerging comic creator working creatively as a storyteller with the aim of reaching mainstream audiences on the issue of climate change.

What if Dorothy’s twister was a wormhole, and the Land of Oz was another planet? What would ‘Planet Oz’ be like today? And why on earth is it running out of oxygen?

These are some of the what-if questions I worked with when I wrote The Wizard of O2, a re-imagining of the classic tale that brings kids and grown-ups back to the Land of Oz for a 21st-century adventure in science and magic.

As with any retelling, I needed a reason to revisit the Land of Oz (other than my own fandom since discovering Judy Garland’s 1939 movie as a kid): Why tell the tale again, and why do it now? L. Frank Baum’s original novel was published back in 1900 and, more than a century later, the book has entered the public domain. The world has also changed a great deal. I realized the time was right to not only revisit the material but to do it through an environmental lens that would make the story even more pertinent in our current, climate-changed times.

Because I come from a screenwriting background, the project began as a screenplay for an animated short film, which I wrote ‘on spec’ to later pitch to film studios and production companies. I envisioned a charming animation with cute and colorful artwork worthy of a Pixar movie, and the climate narrative behind it would function by, first, connecting with audiences through an affectionate parody of Baum’s much-loved work. If the aim of the project is to get mainstream audiences thinking about something as depressing and anxiety-inducing as global warming, I wanted to make it easy for them to go there. I wanted to engage them on the issue by making it familiar, entertaining and, yes, ‘fun’.

On discovering the prohibitive cost of making an animation and the scarcity of producers willing to back an animated short, I opted to adapt my Oz satire into a comic book first. A comic was something I could manage myself while remaining in the pop-cultural category of mediums, which also includes television shows and video games. This was a parameter I had set for the project because, given the climate cause, I wanted the story to have ‘reach’. The visual medium of comics would also convey a brand of charm and whimsy that I thought was crucial to this project.

As many have said, climate stories don’t all need to be apocalyptic dystopias filled with doom and gloom. There’s a place for dark and gritty perspectives and, indeed, there are many climate storytellers producing valuable work in this space. But there’s also a place for whimsy, humor and hope, even in the face of climate catastrophe. Taking the lighter approach can actually help mainstream audiences, which includes both children and adults, to connect with an otherwise depressing subject. So, with the Oz story as my vehicle, I embraced comedy and eccentricity as a route into the hearts and minds of my readers.

My hope for The Wizard of O2 is that it reaches many people as a form of popular entertainment and, thereby, brings the climate cause to a new and wider audience. The comic is now published under my imprint, Truth/Dare Media: We’re a publishing startup that focuses on telling important stories through comics, audiobooks and other popular mediums. And our mission is simple: To help save the world through pop culture. If you enjoy our book and agree that it contributes toward this cause, please help us spread the word!


The Wizard of O2 is a single-issue comic book of 32 color pages. It is written and lettered by Quentin D. Young, an emerging comic creator and a represented script writer whose screenplays have been accepted for submission by leading Hollywood companies including Walt Disney Studios, 20th Century Studios (formerly Fox), and Participant Media. The artwork is by Jean Lins, a comic book artist whose previous works include Dandara and Tales of Griot: The Mirror of Truth.

The Wizard of O2 is published as an indie comic by Truth/Dare Media (January 2021). It is currently available as a digital comic and can be purchased directly from the publisher, or through major online bookstores including Amazon, Apple Books, Kobo and Google Play. It has also been released on Comixology, an Amazon platform dedicated to digital comics and the world’s largest comic readership. The price is $2.99 or £2.49, though this may vary slightly between outlets.

Living with Trees

“Imagine these islands with large forests, small woods and a countryside dotted with trees, covering about a third of the land.”

Robin Walter’s new book, Living with Trees, traces our long associations with woodland since the Ice Age, noting what we’ve lost, celebrating our remaining ancient woodland and trees, and calling for a wooded future.


“Imagine these islands with large forests, small woods and a countryside dotted with trees, covering about a third of the land. Some of these forests are hard-working and productive, other forests might emerge from the return of wild nature and native trees; others might be small community woods gently managed for wildlife and people; each wood will make our land that bit more resilient to a turbulent world. Are we just dreaming? Is this sort of joined-up thinking possible?”

Robin Walter is a  forester and writer of nonfiction and poetic work on trees and the changes needed in the British landscape to deal with climate and ecological emergencies.

The impulse to write Living with Trees came in 2010 when the government tried to sell off the Forestry Commission forests, only to be met with determined resistance from people keen to hang on to ‘their’ woods. This passionate display of interest in our woods prompted the environmental charity Common Ground to explore this new upsurge of concern. So they invited me to revise their 1989 book In A Nutshell and we set to work visiting woodland initiatives around the country. In particular we sought out community projects with social and environmental agendas, such as mental health, education and conservation. This seemed an important aspect of woodland ‘ownership’ which the government had neglected, at their peril. The charity changed hands and work resumed in 2017 amidst a rising interest in trees and our natural world, aided by David Attenborough’s Blue Planet 2 series.

The book is ambitious in scope — tracing our long associations with woodland since the Ice Age, noting what we have lost, celebrating what jewels remain (in the form of ancient woodland and ancient trees), and imagining a future with more trees in our lives. We also consider a wide range of tree presence, from the trees in gardens and parks, to the trees in streets and towns, to the woodlands and plantations in the countryside. Throughout this exploration we find a strong bond between people and trees, passionate, caring and heart-felt. The book considers how we can use this affinity with trees as a portal to a closer relationship with the natural world, reclaiming our rightful place within it.


Living With Trees by Robin Walter is published by Little Toller Books and is also available from his website. Robin is giving illustrated talks on the book, online for now but in person later in the year.

Fifty Words for Snow

“The snow lay in waist-high drifts, and kept falling. I’d gone to Iceland to write about snow, but I found that snow had other ideas…”

Nancy Campbell‘s new book, Fifty Words for Snow, reflects on snow’s role in cultures around the world and the importance of linguistic and cultural diversity in a rapidly changing world.


Yuki-onna – snow woman (Japanese: 雪女)

Taoist philosophy suggests that when there’s an abundance of any natural matter, a life will come forth from it: the river will create its own fish when the water is deep enough and the forest will produce birds when the trees are dense enough. And so it follows that that a woman may be generated in the heart of a snowdrift.

Nancy Campbell is a writer and book artist interested in polar regions and water conservation, winning the Royal Geographical Society’s 2020 Ness Award for her research with Arctic and Scandinavian museums.

A few winters ago I rented a former Salvation Army meeting house in the north of Iceland for a few months. Since the snows of Siglufjörður don’t usually melt until April, I soon learned how the inhabitants of this small fishing town distinguish themselves from their neighbours in Ólafsfjörður, another small fishing town beyond the mountains. Folk in Ólafsfjörður do not clear the snow from the paths leading to their homes. In Siglufjörður the sweeping of snow is a social duty. I lived alone, and it was some distance from my front door to the road; the snow lay in waist-high drifts, and kept falling. I’d gone to Iceland to write about snow, but I found that snow had other ideas — it wanted me to do some physical labour. In his poem ‘Digging’, Seamus Heaney describes how his trade differs from that of his ancestors: ‘I’ve no spade to follow men like them,’ he writes, using instead a ‘squat pen’. Now I had to put down my pen and borrow a shovel from my elderly neighbour Kristján. Then, of course, I cleared his path too.

Fifty Words for Snow is a journey to discover snow in cultures around the world through different languages. The climate is a prism through which to view the human world — just as language can be. Inevitably, a book about climate also looks forward, considering what we miss, as every winter many countries see fewer snowflakes, and some years now, none at all. Just as the ecosystem is changing, so are the languages that describe it and the way they are understood. When I began to learn Greenlandic in 2010 I discovered the fallacy of the many ‘Eskimo words for snow’, a popular concept that was dismissed by linguists in the 1980s. More pertinently, that same year Greenlandic was added to the UNESCO Atlas of the World’s Languages in Danger. While many of the languages in this book, such as Spanish and Urdu, can be heard spoken around the globe, others, such as the Inupiaq dialect of Wales, Alaska, are remembered mainly by elders in relatively small communities.

I started to write this book in September 2019 amid debates about Brexit and the climate crisis, while attending Fridays for Future marches in Germany. I finished it six months later, a week before gathering with other masked and silent Black Lives Matter protestors in the UK. The process of tracing a single theme across many languages new to me seemed a powerful way to overcome the borders that were going up around the world. Ironically, one of the first entries I researched concerned the photograph of boys in a snowball fight taken by Robert Capa in war-torn Hankou (modern-day Wuhan) in 1938. Within weeks, the location had become infamous for the outbreak of COVID-19. Even under lockdown in a pandemic, it was still possible to voyage around the world through dictionaries.

A snow crystal is part of the endless cycle of the water molecule: from its six-cornered solid state it becomes liquid and then gas, and thus a snowflake that falls on the glaciers of the Rwenzori peaks in Africa might melt and evaporate and later freeze again and fall in the apple orchards of Kashmir, and melt again and fall fifty times and more. Just so, a single unit of meaning — one word for snow — offers an approach to new places, a clear path of understanding to travel forwards along.


Fifty Words for Snow by Nancy Campbell is published by Elliott & Thompson (November 2020), richly illustrated with William Bentley’s early photographs of snow crystals. It is available from Hive or from your favourite independent bookshop

Follow @nancycampbelle on Twitter or Instagram.

The Wintermen III – At the End of the World

“You know, Tiny, it was sentiments like that that caused all the problems in the first place.”

In her climate thriller, Brit Griffin‘s future dystopia is a crucible for our moral choices today: how to find our way to be a better species in a world that’s already changed is a path of the imagination.


“You know, Tiny, it was sentiments like that that caused all the problems in the first place.”

“What the fuck are you talking about?”

“Things people would kill for. Chocolate. Cinnamon. Beaver pelts. Oil. You name it, buddy, someone says those words and then it’s mayhem.”

Brit Griffin is author of three near-future cli-fi novels and a writer of poetic/story musings, whose interests lay in reconciling with non-humans and exploring the human/creature boundaries.

It seems we are a species of excess. Appetites? Endless. Whether we are stacking buffalo skulls along the railway or the towering shelves at Amazon, it is the same human itch to want more. It might just be who we are — but I think many of us would rather not be quite so rapacious in our need and greed. So this is the moral conundrum I always return to in my writing: why do some people do the right thing, behave properly in the sense that they share, act with restraint and respect, consider others (both human and non-human), and other people do not?

I started working on the Wintermen series ten years ago. At that time, I was interested in dystopic scenarios because they act like a crucible in which we can explore the kind of moral choices and actions I am interested in. There are many literary crucibles out there to chose from: zombie invasions, natural catastrophes, fascism. At the time, I had a growing interest in climate change and the measures we needed to take as a species to avoid catastrophe.

So climate change became my crucible, and the Wintermen trilogy a means to discuss and ponder our relationship with the environment. At the time, my perpetual winter scenario seemed like a good frame for a book that explores ordinary people struggling with the aftermath of on-going climate disruption, breakdown and scarcity.

By the time I was working on Wintermen III: At the End of the World, it was clear that there was nothing speculative about a climate change scenario. The present, transformed into some sort of liminal space — the future concocted by the past leaving the here-and-now the odd man out. Existing in the present means we cannot re-write the future script, only make small but important edits to it. No rolling back the clock. Urgent mitigation only, no prevention. So in At the End of the World I wanted to think about simply behaving properly in its own right, not to save ourselves and our ‘way of life’, but to transform ourselves for a different way of being human.

In the liminal space of the story the question shifts from how do we prevent climate change to how do we find our way to be a better species in a world that has already changed? How do we begin to reintegrate ourselves back into the natural web, where can we look for the wisdom to guide us on the path away from desire towards ordinary, in situ joy?

This path, I think, is one of the imagination as much as lifestyle changes or the development of new and gentler technologies. Returning to those liminal spaces, the book begins to explore and chip away at the hard boundaries between what is and what should have been, reality and dream, science and magic — this is an area of exploration I will continue to wander in, looking for the signposts left by birch and wolf and wiser humans than myself about how our species can find our way home.


The Wintermen III: At the End of the World by Brit Griffin is published by Latitude 46 (October, 2020) and can be ordered direct from them as a print book or an ebook, from Chapters (Canada) or from your local, independent bookseller.

And you can hear a great chat about nature, winter and climate change with Brit Griffin and Algonquin Anishinaabe writer from the Timiskaming First Nation, Karen McBride (author of Crow Winter, 2019).

Skyseed – Hacking the Earth might be the last thing we ever do…

“For the first time in the history of the world, it was literally raining carbon…”

In his thriller Skyseed, writer and scientist Bill McGuire explores what might happen if we start geoengineering our climate to ‘fix’ global heating, and everything goes pear-shaped. A cautionary tale from a researcher steeped in the natural history of disasters.


Jane Haliwell put her head in her hands. To tell the truth, she was still in shock. All the samples she had taken from inside and around the lab contained the enigmatic spheres in huge numbers. She had only had a brief time to think about the implications, but she was pretty sure already what was going on.

For the first time in the history of the world, it was literally raining carbon. Long before it stopped, the guilty would pay, but so would the innocent…

Bill McGuire is a researcher in the science of global heating and climate breakdown, and a writer of non-fiction on natural hazards and climate change and of speculative and climate-related fiction, who values his contribution to climate activism above everything else.

We all know that slashing greenhouse gas emissions is the key to side-stepping catastrophic global heating. Under the radar, however, others are promoting a very different way of tackling the climate crisis. So-called geoengineering is defined by the Royal Society as: ‘the deliberate intervention in the climate system to counteract man-made global warming,’ and it is attracting increasing support and funding. If messing with the climate some more, to sort out the mess we have already made, sounds crazy, that’s because it is. Geoengineering distracts from the main business of cutting carbon emissions as the science demands, threatens further damage to the environment and tramples over human and legal rights. Far more scarily, the cure might even end up being deadlier than the illness.

Perhaps the riskiest of all geoengineering schemes is a plan to mimic a volcanic eruption by pumping tens of millions of tonnes of sulphur into the stratosphere. Sulphur gases are especially good at reflecting incoming solar radiation back into space, which is why a period of global cooling is common after a major volcanic blast. Past episodes of volcanic cooling, however, are also associated with major changes in weather patterns and rainfall, the failure of harvests and widespread famine, so copycat cooling is really not a good idea. In my new novel, Skyseed, a massive volcanic eruption in Bolivia – true to form, but in an unexpected manner – provides the catalyst that transforms an illicit bid to ‘fix’ global heating into a fight for the survival of the human race.

For someone steeped in the natural history of disasters (I did after all write A Guide to the End of the World: Everything you Never Wanted to Know), the idea of following the geoengineering route in our increasingly desperate quest to come to grips with the climate crisis, has always fascinated, which is really why I wrote Skyseed. I am very much of the mind that stories, rather than lists of hard facts, are often far better at getting complex ideas across, which explains why Skyseed is a novel, rather than a technical analysis of geoengineering and the associated risks. Set in the near future, the book is — first and foremost — a thriller, but a thriller with a message. Without giving too much away, it is a cautionary tale that flags a warning to the reader of what might happen if we embark upon further climate tinkering and everything goes pear-shaped. I have tried not to be preachy, and my principal intention has always been to pen a damn good yarn. Do please read it and let me know if I have succeeded.


Skyseed by Bill McGuire is published by The Book Guild Publishing (September 2020) and can be bought direct from them, from Hive or from your favourite independent bookshop. 

Fellow ClimateCultures member and writer Rob La Frenais discusses Skyseed and geoengineering with Bill on our blog: see Hacking the Earth.

And you can hear Bill discuss the novel and the issues around geoengineering in this short Shaping the Future podcast from the Cambridge Climate Lecture Series (10/10/20).