Odds Against Tomorrow by Nathaniel Rich has been dubbed Cli-Fi, a new genre exploring the effects of present day climate change. Mitchell Zukor is a highly anxious solitary workaholic who mines data and hopes to enter the ranks of Risk Assessment at his job in New York City. Passed over, he ends up taking a position with FutureWorld, a creepy company that provides expensive risk insurance so other businesses can avoid litigation in the wake of natural disasters. Hired because he truly believes in the terror he is selling his customers, Zukor lives in a state of perpetual worry. The author’s imagery of fear is perfectly detailed in the guise of a cockroach, the scratching that keeps us all awake at night as we envision our own worst case scenarios.
After a severe drought, a massive storm system hits the east coast. The ground cannot absorb the moisture and the city is flooded. Mitchell uses a canoe sculpture purchased on a whim to rescue himself and a female colleague after much of the city had already evacuated. Rowing through Manhattan, they begin to witness what desperation does to humanity. Since Zukor predicted both the extent of the storm and its effects, instant fame opens the door to wealthy entrepreneurship. But first, he decides to travel to Maine to visit a terminally ill pen pal who just might hold the key to having a life worth living.