Tuesday, June 30, 2015

''Cli-Fi'' COUNTRY REPORTS: ''Cli-Fi'' in GERMANY (third in a global series of Country Reports)

[ cli.mate fi.ction ]

As the cli-fi genre gains momentum worldwide, with news reports in several languages already, and writers in over 15 countries already working in the cli-fi genre -- from Finland to Sweden to Norway to Austrlia and New Zealand and the USA and the UK (and Canada, too, of course) -- this blog has started a series of CLI-FI COUNTRY REPORTS, detailing news on the ground about cli fi in non-English speaking nations around the world. On topic today is GERMANY, with information gathered from our correspondents in Munich and Bremen and Bonn.

Cli-Fi in GERMANY:


Frank Schätzing's novel ''The Swarm'' (2004) is without doubt the best-known German cli fi thriller devoted, amongst other things, to the subject of climate change. It is now being made into a movie. Schätzing’s novel is without doubt the best-known German cli fi thriller and describes how the yrr, a single-cell, maritime, intelligent life form, punishes humankind for its environmental crimes and in particular for its destruction of the oceans. Nature fights back with tsunamis, underwater landslides and aggressive attacks by various species of marine life.


At first, it seems that the protagonists in The Swarm are powerless to prevent the yrr from wiping out all of humankind. Finally, however, they succeed in communicating with the yrr. When the protagonists promise to live in harmony with nature in future, they are able to avert the ultimate devastation. In this sense Schätzing’s book reflects to some extent the so-called Gaia theory formulated by the British scientist James Lovelock, which regards the earth as a self-organized dynamic system that can and will take action against humankind for the sake of its own preservation and balance. The cli fi thriller, however, ends with the hope that humankind can after all be persuaded to rethink.


“Conspiracy” as leitmotif

Cover von Nele Neuhaus’ „Wer Wind sät“; © Ullstein Verlag“Conspiracy” is a motif that frequently appears in climate change literature. One prominent example in the English-speaking world is Michael Crichton’s State of Fear (2004), which portrays climate change as a deception invented by environmental activists, thus absolving humankind from blame. The conspiracy motif, however, also appears in German climate change books, such as Nele Neuhaus’s Wer Wind sät (2011) and Sven Böttcher’s thriller Prophezeiung (2011).
Neuhaus’s crime novel ignores the seriousness of climate change and limits itself to criticizing the renewable energies market for its hunger for profits.
Cover von Sven Böttchers „Prophezeiung“; © Kiepenheuer & Witsch VerlagBöttcher’s thriller also focuses on the financial aspects of climate change: in the novel, the director of a major climate institute, who has invested heavily in a wind farm, senses an opportunity to eliminate his biggest rival, a photovoltaic manufacturer in China. Using a precise computer forecasting system, he plans to prove that millions of people will die as a result of climate change, China being to blame as the worst carbon emissions culprit. In fact, however, the dramatic weather events that were forecast fail to materialize.
Böttcher’s climate thriller critically illuminates climate research in a somewhat more nuanced fashion than the book by Neuhaus, showing that humankind should not be subject to blanket condemnation even if it is responsible for climate change.


Cover von von Ilija Trojanows „Eis Tau“; © Hanser VerlagIn Ilija Torjanow’s climate change novel Eis Tau (2011), humankind is explicitly held responsible for climate change. This time, however, the accuser is one of them: Zeno Hintermeier, the novel’s protagonist, is convinced that humankind will destroy everything “that places itself on nature’s side”. As a glaciologist and the leader of cruise ship exhibitions in the Antarctic, he becomes a key witness to the environmental destruction that goes hand in hand with technological progress exploited for tourism: the Antarctic, formerly a desolate continent of courageous explorers, can suddenly be “conquered” even by old-age pensioners thanks to modern ships.
In Eis Tau, Zeno’s elegiac grief at the melting of the poles serves not only to give greater emphasis to the “inconvenient truth”; it also serves as the basis for a more general criticism of human ignorance about climate change, the destructive power of which is embodied in particular by the tourists on board the cruise ship. Zeno condemns this through an act of self-administered justice: he throws himself overboard, thereby abandoning the tourists to their fate.

Call for action

Dirk C. Fleck’s science fiction novel Maeva! (2011) is part of a larger political project initiated by the Equilibrism movement, which is searching for ways out of the ecological and economic crisis within the framework of a holistic concept. Rather like Trojanow’s Eis Tau, Fleck’s novel presupposes that humankind is to blame for the natural disasters of the future. It describes how extreme weather, droughts and conflicts over resources will already dominate world events by the year 2028.
Cover von Dirk C. Flecks “Maeva!”; © GreifenverlagIn response to the ongoing “tortilla fights in Mexico” and the “pasta demonstrations in Italy”, many industrialized nations have stepped up their military presence. This is the backdrop against which Maeva, the Tahitian president, embarks on a journey around the world aimed at bringing about a paradigm shift. Maeva is battling for an ecological restructuring of all areas of life, for a shift towards a natural circular economy and for sustainable monetary and land regulations and cosmopolitanism.
Dirk C. Fleck is thus one of the few German authors to propose concrete changes aimed at averting the imminent climate crisis. He illustrates ways in which humankind can escape its “sentence”. For this to be possible, however, it must start acting right now, as the book demands.

Antonia Mehnert
is a PhD student at the Rachel Carson Center in Munich and researches American climate change novels.Gregers Andersen
is a PhD student in comparative studies at the University of Copenhagen and researches climate change in film and literature.The article is the result of cooperation at the Carson Center in Munich.Translation: Chris Cave
Copyright: Goethe-Institut e. V., Internet-Redaktion
November 2013Any questions about this article? Please write to us!


TITLE: The Swarm
WHAT’S IT ABOUT: Nature takes revenge on polluting mankind in the form of rampaging Orcas, destructive tsunamis and mysterious diseases brought about by hither-to undiscovered sea creatures.
It is up to a team of scientists to figure out what is going on before the whole of humanity is wiped clean from the face of the earth.
Imagine a Roland Emmerich movie in which the director actually paid attention to his scientific advisors and you’ll have an idea more or less of what The Swarm is about. Now throw in some Arthur C. Clarke meets The Abyss touches for good measure too . . .
Instead it is an adaptation of Der Schwarm (translated into English as The Swarm) by German author Frank Schaetzing, an 800-plus pages cli fi epic that dominated German best-selling lists for a year upon its publication in 2004 which has been translated into 18 languages since then.
WHO’S INVOLVED? Actress Uma Thurman and two German producers bought the movie rights back in 2006. Since then Martha De Laurentiis (widow of legendary producer Dino) has been involved as well as soundtrack composer / movie producer Klaus Badelt and Ted Tally (who wrote the screenplay for Silence of the Lambs) and William J. MacDonald (Rome).
LAST WE HEARD: In 2007 Martha De Laurentiis announced Ted Tally’s appointment as screenwriter: “We needed a certain screenwriter to preserve the book’s intelligence and message without stepping on the momentum of the book’s cinematically spectacular set-pieces, and we loved the last time we worked with Ted [on Silence of the Lambs].”
Since then the project was updated on 12 March 2012 on Internet Movie Database as being “in development” with an envisaged 2015 release date. One can assume that the project isn’t entirely dead even though the movie rights were acquired more than six years ago by now . . .
CHANCES OF GETTING MADE: Who knows? News on this project has been quiet for some time now. To pull it off properly the project needs a pretty big budget otherwise it’ll be just be a Syfy original movie . . . It might just get made.
WHY IT’D BE GREAT: Schaetzing’s novel may be on the long-winded side seeing as it is “crammed full of scientific fact and learning” as the author himself admits in his post-scriptum, but it is nonetheless a thrilling page-turner of a read.
Producer De Laurentiis has it right when she talks about the book’s intelligence as well as its cinematically spectacular set-pieces. One cool set-piece involves a pod of Orcas attacking a boat of whale watchers as well as another boat containing eco protestors. (Incidentally, the last movie to feature a rampaging killer whale was 1977’s Orca: The Killer Whale, ironically produced by Dino De Laurentiis himself.)
The book’s climax involves a gigantic U.S. navy ship slowly sinking as it is rocked by several explosions.
One practically salivates at the mouth thinking what a skilled action director might achieve with the material. If a director can resist the temptation to jettison the story’s more challenging science stuff (Schaetzing goes to great lengths to make it all as scientifically plausible as possible even working in real life scientists in the process), the end result would be a Roland Emmerich movie . . . but with brains!


Over 50 academic & media links:

''CLi-Fi'' COUNTRY REPORTS: cli-fi genre in NORWAY (the 2nd in a series of country reports on the rise of cli-fi worldwide)

''Cli-Fi'' COUNTRY REPORTS: ''Cli-Fi'' in NORWAY -- (second in a global series of Country Reports)
[ cli.mate fi.ction ]

As the cli-fi genre gains momentum worldwide, with news reports in several languages already, and writers in over 15 countries already working in the cli-fi genre -- from Finland to Sweden to Norway to Austrlia and New Zealand and the USA and the UK (and Canada, too, of course) -- this blog has started a series of CLI-FI COUNTRY REPORTS, detailing news on the ground about cli fi in non-English speaking nations around the world. On topic today is NORWAY, with information gathered from our correspondents in Oslo and Stavanger and Svaalbard.

NEWS ALERT: In fall of 2015, in a Swedish magazine called Vi Läser (''We Read''), there will be an article about why ''cli fi'' is big in Norway, but not so big yet in Sweden, comparatively speaking. It should be an important article, and we will be looking for it, too. (Among those who have been interviewed for the ''Vi Laser'' article are several novelists and literary critics from both nations, according to sources).

'Cli Fi' in NORWAY

FROM OUR MAILBOX: ''Thanks for your message! Yes, I am the author both of the article in Tvergastein and of the first monograph on environmental literature from Iceland and Norway, covering roughly the time period 1970 until 2013 (Umwelt-engagierte Literatur aus Island und Norwegen, published in 2014 - but written in German only for now). In the book, I analyze among others the two novels also mentioned in the journal article (Uår by Knut Faldbakken and Anna by Jostein Gaarder) and Gert Nygårdhaug's novel Chimera. These are fictional texts from Norway dealing with climate change as a central issue. So I'd say there is quite a bit of info online now about Norwegian cli fi novels - but it's not like there are really many of them up to now. There are some more Norwegian crime novels which take up the issue, but not really from an environmental point of view.'' - Dr Reinhard Hennig -- 7/1/2015 [via email]

‘'It is Immoral to Be a Pessimist’ - Climate Change Adaptation and Mitigation in Norwegian Literary Fiction'' is the title of an academic paper about cli fi in Norway. ''In the following, I want to examine how the novels of two Norwegian novelists....." the author Dr Reinhard Hennig begins. LINK HERE:

Norwegian writer Knut Faldbakken’s wrote two connected novels
Uår: Sweetwater published in 1974 and 1976. Many fictional
texts have taken up environmental questions since the beginnings of the environ-mental movements in  Western countries around 1970.
In February 2013, world famous Norwegian writer Jostein Gaarder published a book with the title

Anna. En fa-bel om klodens klima og miljø
(“Anna. A Fable about the  Planet‘s Climate and Environment”).
Gaarder is world-renowned for his novel about the history of philosophy,
Sofies verden
(“Sofie’s World”, 1991), which by now has been trans-lated into about 60 languages.  The new book’s setting is Norway as of 2012. 16-year-old Anna frequently has dreams in which she is incarnated as her own great-grandchild, the likewise 16-year-old Nova, in the year 2082. e world in Novas time dramat-ically differs from Anna’s. Catastrophic climate change has taken place and global warming still continues, as several tipping points have been passed. Large parts of the world are uninhab-itable because of drought and desertification. Hundreds of millions have died from famine, climate change induced weather catastrophes and in desperate resource wars. Biodiversity is extremely reduced through the devastation of the earth’s ecosystems. In a key scene, Nova furi-ously accuses her own great grandmother – who is nobody else than 86-year-old Anna herself – for having been part of the generation respon-sible for this catastrophe and not having done enough to prevent it. Old Anna holds, however, that there might be a chance of changing the course of history. When young Anna wakes from this dream, she feels that it is now herself who has both the responsibility and the chance for creating a different future. She consequently gathers all kinds of information on what has to be done and starts an environmental group at her school.
provides rather little information about processes of adaptation that must have taken place between 2012 and 2082. e men-tioned catastrophes indicate, however, that most ecosystems and large parts of the world popu-lation soon reached limits of adaptability and subsequently perished.


An email from a teenager named Tonje in Norway helped this blog begin to understand the nature of the rise of cli fi memes in Norway. She was at the time a high school student, and she had written a class paper as part of Norwegian class at her school in the Stavanger region. She wrote: "I chose a problem for discussion that dealt with cli fi. The teacher's question was, translated into English, was: "Which impact could cli fi novels have on the reader and to what degree can it be regarded as a contribution in the environmental battle?"
The main part of Tonje's paper was an analysis of a Norwegain cli fi novel titled "Chimera" by the Norwegian author Gert Nygårdshaug (which unfortunately has not been translated into English yet, Tonje informed us).
Her paper was titled -- ''Poetisk klimakamp''
And subtitled: Hvordan cli fi påvirker leseren og fungerer som bidrag i klimakampen
Med utgangspunkt i Gert Nygårdshaugs roman, ''Chimera''
The Forward to her paper reads:
(1) ''Forord''
I denne oppgaven skal jeg undersøke hvilken innflytelse romaner med klima som tema kan ha på leseren. Mengden av slike bøker har økt kraftig de siste årene og har nylig fått sin egen sjangerbetegnelse; climate fiction (''cli-fi''). Problemstillingen jeg har valgt er: ”Hvilken påvirkning har cli fi på leseren og hvilket bidrag utgjør det i klimakampen?”

Først ser jeg det nødvendig å introdusere det nye sjangerbegrepet for å danne et grunnlag. Her vil jeg redegjøre for samfunnets påvirkning på litteraturen, før jeg går over til å diskutere hvordan litteraturen kan påvirke menneskene og samfunnet: en analyse av boken Chimera med øyne for virkemidler som frembringer følelser eller eventuelle holdningsendringer. Til slutt en samling av tråder i et større perspektiv.
When we asked Tonje how she first heard of the cli fi term, she told this blog by email: "I'm not quite sure how I first came across the cli fi term. I suppose I was Googling "eco-thriller" as this is what Gert Nygårdshaug calls his book ''Chimera,'' and I was looking for similar novels."

Tonje also said that that the cli fi term is NOT well known in Norway, noting that among her friends and classmates, well:

"Here in Norway, not a single person I've told about the cli fi idea has heard about it before," she told us.
Tonje's conclusion for her class paper: (4.2) Etterord

Det har vært et spennende og lærerikt, men også krevende arbeid. Mangelen og variasjonen i informasjon om den nye sjangeren har bydd på utfordringer, men også mye interessant innsikt. Jeg har i enda større grad enn før innsett rikdommen av Nygårdshaugs roman. En annen interessant oppdagelse er hvordan jeg med utgangspunkt i en norskfaglig analyse både finner sosiologi, psykologi og biologi relevant. Disse fagene utfyller hverandre litt på samme måte som litteraturen samspiller med samfunnet og menneskene. Arbeidet har i tillegg kastet lys over klimaendring i andre populære medier og trigget en interesse for denne alternative og fascinerende måten å formidle et budskap på.
And her notes on her research for the paper is a fantastic compilation of great links. This teeage girl really did her homework!
Bravo, Tonje, has started a 1-year course at a folk high school in central Norway. The course deals with biology, ecology, sociology and politics, she told us. She was also at the time of her emails last year travelling to the rainforest of Peru for 2 months. "As you see, biology and climate change are really things that interest me. The year after that I think I would like to study biology at a university, perhaps in the UK. But I'm not sure yet," she added.

"I enjoyed researching and writing the class paper and

I continue reading cli-fi novels with even more interest

than before," Tonje told us.
Tonje's footnotes:
(5) Kilder
(5.1) Primærlitteratur
Gert Nygårdshaug, Chimera, Cappelen Damm 1. utgave, 1. opplag, 2011
(5.2) Sekundærlitteratur
(5.2.1) Publisert faglitteratur
Langeland, Henrik Helliesen, Fortellekunst. Håndbok i litterære teknikker, Tiden Norsk Forlag, 1. utgave, 1. opplag 2011
Llosa, Mario Vargas, Brev til en ung forfatter, (Norsk utgave oversatt av Kari og Kjell Risvik) Gyldendal 2009. Originaltittel: Cartas a un joven novelista, Editorial Planeta 1997
De to ovenfor nevnte er ikke brukt direkte i oppgaven, men er brukt som bakgrunnsinformasjon.
Nybrodahl, Stein Tore og Håkonsen, Hans Olav, Kunsten å lære, H.O. Håkonsen & S.T. Nybrodahl, 2003.
(Nettversjon av aktuelt innhold: http://home.online.no/~steinny/Kap1/hjernens_oppbygning.htm)
(5.2.2) Artikler fra internett
( Cli fi
Kildene er her sortert etter publiseringsdato:
Bloom, Dan, Teleread, ”Cli-fi ebook to launch on Earth Day in April”. Lastet ned: 03.11.13.
Atwood, Margaret, Twitter. Lastet ned: 02.11.13.
Evancie, Angela, NPR, “So Hot Right Now: Has Climate Change Created A New Literary Genre?”. Lastet ned: 02.11.13.
Bloom, Dan, Teleread, ”Thanks to TeleRead and NPR, ‘Cli-fi’ is now an official literary term”. Lastet ned: 28.10.13. http://www.teleread.com/around-world/cli-fi-is-a-new-literary-term-that-npr-blessed-and-approved/
Clark, Pilita, Financial Times, ”Global literary circles warm to climate fiction”. Lastet ned: 12.11.13. http://www.ft.com/intl/cms/s/0/8a8adf10-c9e3-11e2-af47-00144feab7de.html#axzz2kSEYvU5l
Glass, Rodge, The Guardian ”Global warning: the rise of ’cli-fi’”. Lastet ned: 10.11.13. http://www.theguardian.com/books/2013/may/31/global-warning-rise-cli-fi

World Wide Words, ”Cli-fi”. Lastet ned: 13.11.13. http://www.worldwidewords.org/turnsofphrase/tp-cli4.htm
DATO 25.05.13?
Wikipedia, ”Cli-fi”. Lastet ned: 13.11.13.

Andre internettkilder med uvesentlig dato:
Bloom, Dan, Cli FI Central. Blogg opprettet 12.11.07, aktiviteten økte eksplosivt i 2013.
Gernsback, Hugo, ”What is Science Fiction”. Publisert 1965. (Via Wikipedia ”Science Fiction”. Publisert: 20.01.04, sist endret: 05.11.13, lastet ned: 11.11.13. http://no.wikipedia.org/wiki/Science_fiction)
Techeye ”About us, Dan Bloom”. Lastet ned: 04.11.13. http://www.techeye.net/about-us/dan-bloom
Definisjoner.no ”Propaganda”. Publisert: 2012. Lastet ned: 17.11.13. http://definisjoner.no/propaganda
Wikipedia, ”Tendensroman”. Publisert: 09.01.06, sist endret: 10.03.13. Lastet ned: 17.11.13. http://no.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tendensroman
( Chimera
Oppedal, Torbjørn, Morgenbladet, ”Økofiksjonens muligheter”. Publisert: 16.09.11. Lastet ned: 03.11.13.
Regnskogfondet, ”Gert Nygårdshaug med ny bok om regnskogen”. Publisert: 14.09.11, lastet ned: 12.11.13. http://www.regnskog.no/no/nyheter/nyhetsarkiv/afrika/gert-nygårdshaug-med-ny-bok-om-regnskogen
Stiauren, Kristina Valheim, Framtiden, ”Optimist i mørket”. Publisert: 19.04.12. Lastet ned: 17.11.13. http://www.framtiden.no/medlemsblad/profilen/optimist-i-morket.html?
Sætren, Lars, Dagbladet, “- Det er utrolig mye poesi i vitenskapen”. Publisert: 11.09.11. Lastet ned: 03.11.13.
Wikipedia, ”Gert Nygårdshaug”. Publisert:11.06.05, sist endret: 25.08.13. Aktuelt innhold (bibliografi) sist endret 25.08.13. Lastet ned: 03.11.13.


This appeared in a Norwegian newspaper too:

Her mission is titled "Poetic climate fight."

- I am concerned about the new genre of "cli fi", climate fiction, ie books on climate change that is not sciences literature. I have asked the question as to what extent Cli-fi novels can make a contribution to the debate and influence the reader. My answer is that I think it has the potential to mean something, but it is difficult to say to what extent it will affect, she says.

Hennes oppgave har tittelen "Poetisk klimakamp."
- Jeg er opptatt av den nye sjangeren "cli fi", climate fiction, det vil si bøker om klimaspørsmål som ikke er faglitteratur. Jeg har stilt spørsmålet om i hvilken grad Cli fi-romaner kan utgjøre et bidrag i debatten og påvirke leseren. Mitt svar er blant annet at jeg tror det har potensial til å bety noe, men det er vanskelig å si i hvilken grad det vil påvirke, sier hun.
TRANSLATION by my friend Geir: Her mission is titled "Poetic climate fight."

- I am concerned about the new genre of "cli fi", climate fiction, ie books on climate change that is not sciences literature. I have asked the question as to what extent Cli-fi novels can make a contribution to the debate and influence the reader. My answer is that I think it has the potential to mean something, but it is difficult to say to what extent it will affect, she says.
Project title:Nature, Culture, and Activism: an Analysis of Environmental Literature from Iceland and Norway
Advisor:PD Dr. Thomas Fechner-Smarsly
(Institute for German Studies, Department of Scandinavian Studies, University of Bonn, Germany)
Abstract:Does literature contribute to environmental awareness and to the solution of ecological problems? What characterizes an environmental text? Which ethical arguments referring to environmental questions are used in such texts? What is the relationship between these texts and contemporary environmental movements as well as the ecological ideas drawn upon by such movements? And, finally: What is the relation of the local, the national and the global to each other in environmental literature?
In order to answer these questions, I am combining approaches from three disciplines of the environmental humanities. The first is ecocriticism, a subfield of literary and cultural studies which addresses environmental questions. The second is environmental history, which not only researches past environmental conditions and interrelationships between humans and non-human nature, but also the history of ecological ideas and of environmental movements. The third discipline is environmental ethics, which’s theories allow a differentiated analysis of ethical arguments drawn upon in environmental literary texts. Methodologically, I use Hubert Zapf’s model of literature as cultural ecology, according to which literary texts have a triadic structure: They function as a cultural-critical metadiscourse, as an imaginative counterdiscourse and as a reintegrative interdiscourse. I connect this model with a more neutral definition of cultural criticism (Kulturkritik) developed by Georg Bollenbeck. In this way it becomes possible to define more closely the characteristics of environmental literature and to comprehensively take into account the historical and cultural contexts of such literary texts. The contrasting comparison of Icelandic and Norwegian environmental literature shows that perceptions of environmental questions are to a very high degree culturally shaped, and that in particular ideas of national identity have considerable influence on the characteristics of the respective ‘environmental imagination’.
My sources were works by five Icelandic and five Norwegian writers, published between 1970 and 2013.

The texts from Norway are Erik Dammann‘s essayistic book Fremtiden i våre hender („The Future in Our Hands“, 1972), Knut Faldbakken‘s two-part novel Uår – Aftenlandet („Bad Years – the Occident“, 1974) and Uår – Sweetwater („Bad Years – Sweetwater“, 1976), Sidsel Mørck‘s documentary novels Stumtjenere („Silent Servant“, 1978) and Ikke til salgs! („Not for Sale!“, 1983), Gert Nygårdshaug‘s novels Mengele Zoo (1989) and Chimera (2011) as well as Jostein Gaarder‘s young-adult novel Anna. En fabel om klodens klima og miljø („Anna. A Fable about the Planet‘s Climate and Environment“, 2013).
Support:This project was supported by the Heinrich-Böll-Foundation through a PhD scholarship .
Status:The PhD thesis was submitted at the University of Bonn in January 2014. The thesis defense took place in April 2014. The thesis was published in October 2014 under the title Umwelt-engagierte Literatur aus Island und Norwegen. Ein interdisziplinärer Beitrag zu den environmental humanities in the series Texte und Untersuchungen zur Germanistik und Skandinavistik.
Further information:


Monday, June 29, 2015

''Cli-Fi'' COUNTRY REPORTS: ''Cli-Fi'' in Sweden (first in a global series of Country Reports)

Sleep on the 'Af Chapman' floating youth hostel as I did in the summer of 1969 pic.twitter.com/fpkDFmIR6N and read up on Swedish #clifi at http://pcillu101.blogspot.tw/2015/06/cli-fi-country-reports-cli-fi-in-sweden.html
[ cli.mate fi.ction ]
As the cli-fi genre gains momentum worldwide, with news reports in several languages already, and writers in over 15 countries already working in the cli-fi genre -- from Finland to Sweden to Norway to Austrlia and New Zealand and the USA and the UK (and Canada, too, of course) -- this blog is starting today a series of CLI-FI COUNTRY REPORTS, detailing news on the ground about cli fi in non-English speaking nations around the world. First up, today, is a report from SWEDEN, with information gathered from our correspondents in Stockholm and Goteberg and Malmo.

'Cli-fi' In Sweden

A Swedish-language newspaper Helsingborgs Dagblad has reported about literature dealing with climate crisis issues and ecological perspectives. Mostly the articles are about some Swedish examples of eco-poetry, but also about a couple of novels with climate disaster themes, which perhaps could be classified as 'cli fi'. At the current time, cli-fi is not really an established term in Swedish or among the Swedish media or literary journals, but there was some talk about it a couple of years ago, when a cli-fi novel by Jesper Weithz "Det som inte växer är döende," (What's not growing is dying), was published in Swedish. An English translation might be in the works, soon, accoring to publishing sources in Stockholm.
There is a Swedish literary critic living in Malmö in Sweden, which is a city close to Copenhagen, of course. An article about cli fi motifs in modern Swedish poetry will be published in Swedish in a  poetry magazine called Lyrikvännen in September 2015.

There is also a very good and important climate-themed magazine in Sweden called Effekt.

Swedish authors to keep an eye out for in terms of cli-fi motifs and memes include: novelist Jesper Weithz and poets Jonas Gren, Åsa Maria Kraft and Johannes Helden, among others, and there are more, too.
The genre of 'cli-fi' was reported and described last yearm, but  briefly, in an article that appeared in Swedish the magazine  Effekt.

''Det som inte växer är döende''  -- (English translation of title: ''What's not growing is dying'') -- is a powerful and well-recieved novel in Sweden which was very well reviewed by literary critics and takes place in the near future.

A recent special report in a Swedish literature magazine called 10-tal  also has reported on cli-fi. In addition, in the fall of 2015 in a Swedish magazine called Vi Läser (''We Read'') there will be an article about why cli fi is big in Norway, but not so big yet in Sweden, comparatively speaking. It should be an important article, and we will be looking for it, too.  (Among those who have been interviewed for the ''Vi Laser'' article are several novelists and literary critics from both nations).
There where also a short piece about cli-fi on Sweden's public service television network – when Jesper Weithz' novel ”Det som inte växer är döende” was first released and Effekt published an issue on ''Climate and Culture.''

As for plans to publish an English translation of ”Det som inte växer är döende” -- there are no concrete plans of an English version, although the author is searching for means to finance a translated version himself, according to publishing sources. There are partial translated excerpts available in English, with separate partial excerpt translations by Dominic Hinde and Caroline Aberg. The novel was first published in October of 2012 and comes in at 220 pages.

The cli-fi novel ”Det som inte växer är döende” did very well when it was released – and it got stunning reviews. But it did not directly contribute to or ignite any public (i.e. in media) discussion on the climate crisis in Sweden or worldwide, according to media sources in Stockholm.

BLURB #1: "A well-paced, expertly told story: uncanny and haunting."

BLURB #2: "The novel uses climate change and imploding modernity as a backdrop for its story of a Swedish family falling apart, unable to keep together in the face of what they can't control. A couple, husband and wife, Henrik and Lotte, and their four-year-old daughter Molly."

BLURB #3: "This would make a very good screenplay and movie for a global audience, with international locations in Sweden, Britain and Brazil, either produced and shot by a Hollywood studio in a big-budget production or by a smaller indie operation from Sweden or the UK."

WHAT'S THE NOVEL ABOUT? ''Det som inte växer är döende'' could be said to be an existential cli-fi thriller set against the backdrop of modern life, and while it's a cli-fi novel to be sure, climate change, man-made global warming -- and their potential disasters -- hover the edge to the story but are never ''center stage'' or the main ''focus'' of the novel. It's a powerful family drama, written with Weithz's minimalist aesthetic and searing prose. It would make a very good translation for readers in the UK, the USA, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa, and for anyone else who wants to read the book in English. In addition, translations into German, French, Italian, Norwegian, Finnish, Chinese and Japanese would also find an audience of cli fi genre readers in those countries -- Portuguese for Brazil, too, since part of the novel takes place in Sao Paolo. You could say that Weiths's novel would give readers in any country a sense that we in the modern world are standing on an ice flow and hearing the first crackling sounds of disintegration. It's that powerful of  a novel.

The novel starts off on the very first page with two quotes in English, one some lyrics from PINK FLOYD's song "The Thin Ice," and the other, lyrics from R.B. Morris' song titled EMPIRES.

The Pink Floyd song quote goes like this, with the actual quote in the book in red letters below:

Momma loves her baby
And Daddy loves you too
And the sea may look warm to you Babe
And the sky may look blue
Ooooh Babe
Ooooh Baby Blue
Ooooh Babe
''If you should go skating
On the thin ice of modern life
Dragging behind you the silent reproach
Of a million tear stained eyes
Don't be surprised, when a crack in the ice
Appears under your feet
You slip out of your depth and out of your mind
With your fear flowing out behind you
As you claw the thin ice
The R.B. Morris quote also in red text below, goes like this, from the song
''That's How Every Empire Falls''
© R. B. Morris

Caught a train from Alexandria
Just a broken man in flight
Running scared with his devils
Saying prayers all through the night
Oh but mercy can't find him
Not in the shadows where he calls
Forsaking all his better angels
That's how every empire falls

The bells ring out on Sunday mornng
Like echoes from another time
All our innocence and yearning
and sense of wonder left behind
Oh gentle hearts remember
What was that story? Is it lost?
For when religion loses vision
That's how every empire falls.

He toasts his wife and all his family
The providence he brought to bear
They raise their glasses in his honor
Although this union they don't share
A man who lives among them
Was still a stranger to them all
For when the heart is never open
That's how every empire falls

Padlock the door and board the windows
Put the people in the street
"It's just my job," he says "I'm sorry."
And draws a check, goes home to eat
But at night he tells his woman
"I know I hide behind the laws."
She says, "You're only taking orders."
That's how every empire falls.

''A bitter wind blows through the country
A hard rain falls on the sea
If terror comes without a warning
There must be something we don't see
What fire begets this fire?
Like torches thrown into the straw
If no one asks, then no one answers
That's how every empire falls.''
Den gröna tråden
Åsa Maria Kraft.
Emily Dickinson.
Jesper Weithz.
Åsa Maria Kraft.
Emily Dickinson.
Jesper Weithz.
Åsa Maria Kraft.
Emily Dickinson.
Jesper Weithz.

Världens sista bi surrar i Åsa Maria Krafts nya diktsamling ”Randfenomen”. Vi befinner oss någon gång på 2020-talet, under ”Den stora bidöden”, då insekten som är den ende kvarvarande representanten för sin art tagit sig in genom ett fönster för att diskutera sitt öde med ett helgon.
Ja, alldeles enkelt är det inte att återge vad som händer i denna märkliga dikt, som rör sig mellan det förflutna och framtiden i visionära fragment, återger legender om marginaliserade heliga kvinnor och varslar om modergudinnan Kybeles återkomst. Men helt klart är att en anklagelse riktas mot oss människor. Vi som sprutat neonikotinoider över markerna och som snart är en ”art utan honung”: ”Ni dör också, långsamt, / men snabbare än ni tror.”

Krafts feministiska och ekologiska brottningar med mänsklighetens förbrytelser passar väl in i den gröna våg som drar fram över poesin. I USA är det som kallas Ecopoetry en växande rörelse och för ett par år sedan kom en 600-sidig antologi, ”The Ecopoetry Anthology”, som drog upp de historiska linjerna från diktare som Walt Whitman och Emily Dickinson och med 176 samtida amerikanska poeter gav prov på den miljömedvetna lyrikens skiftande uttryck. Ekopoesin kan lika gärna vara pamflettartat aktivistisk som postmodernt dekonstruerande eller ansluta sig till den traditionella naturlyriken för att skildra skönheten i det hotade, men gemensamt är att det någonstans på eller mellan raderna tjuter en väckarklocka.
Kanske låter den just som ett döende bi. Eller som en kvist som bryts. Det ljudet lystrar diktjaget till i Jonas Grens debutbok ”Lantmäteriet”, som i fjol ledde till ett slags svenskt genombrott för ekopoesin. Här bryts en hyperrationalistisk världsåskådning mot en sinnlig mottaglighet för naturens språk; motorvägens dån ställs intill vattenfallets och skogsmaskinens framfart kontrasteras mot djurens spår.
Det går att se den gröna tråden lite varstans i samtidspoesin. I Aase Bergs fabelaktiga satir ”Liknöjd fauna”, i de djuriska metamorfoserna i Agnes Gerners ”Skall”, eller när Fredrik Nyberg i ”Slingorna & undergången” med utsikt över en igenväxande äng går till antikapitalistisk attack à la Nina Björk: ”Vem vill ha ett Skit-liv fyllt av Skit-drömmar?”
Kan då litteraturen lyckas med vad ingen klimatrapport eller internationell konferens verkar klara av – få oss att vakna upp? Åtminstone försöker den, och kanske är poesin känsligare och kvickare än romanen och novellen på att fånga upp våra farhågor. Även om enstaka exempel finns väntar den svenska prosan ännu på klimatfiktionens stora genombrott.
Romaner med miljöfrågor på agendan – rätt nyligen myntades i USA termen cli-fi, en förkortning av climate fiction enligt modellen sci-fi – antar gärna dystopins form och målar upp en avskräckande framtid i katastrofens spår. Drottningen av den spekulativa klimatfiktionen är Margaret Atwood, aktuell på svenska med ”MaddAddam” som utspelar sig efter den ”vattenlösa syndafloden”, en stor pandemi som utplånat nästan hela mänskligheten.
På svenska har vi fått en dystopisk miljösaga i Mats Wahls ungdomsbokserie ”Blodregn”, som hittills består av romanerna ”Ryttarna” och ”Krigarna”. Här förflyttas vi ungefär ett halvt sekel framåt i tiden till ett knappt igenkännbart Sverige där det ständigt stormar, varubrist råder och markerna invaderats av radioaktiva vildsvin. Högteknologisk övervakning samsas med livsvillkor av fornnordiskt snitt: folket har fått återgå till fyrbenta transportmedel och beväpnar sig med yxor och armborst eftersom inte ens grannarna är att lita på. Det är skickligt genomfört och spännande, men kanske är det inte framförallt den här sortens fantasi som får läsaren att vilja kasta sig på larmknappen.
Mer omedelbart skrämmande är Jesper Weithz debutthriller ”Det som inte växer är döende” från 2012, just därför att allt är så likt vår egen tid med endast små förskjutningar, hot som länge befinner sig antydningsvis i bakgrunden. Bangladesh har slukats av vatten och flera amerikanska städer förvandlats till ”New Venice”, men fortfarande lever den välmående medelklassen som om inget hänt, förutom att strejker gjort det svårt att hitta taxi i London och flygtrafiken ställs in när demonstranter tar sig in på landningsbanan. På väg från olika avreseorter för att återförenas i Brasilien drabbas ett framgångsrikt par på varsitt sätt av det kaos klimatförändringarna triggar igång och dras allt djupare in mardrömslika scenarier.
Vi sjunker, tycks författaren säga, samtidigt som vi orubbligt klamrar oss fast vid tron på tillväxten.
Kan litteraturen med en ekologisk kick i baken skaka om oss tillräckligt för att vi ska revidera våra skitdrömmar eller fungerar den globala uppvärmningen mest som en ingrediens att hotta upp fiktionen med? I alla fall kan den få oss att förstå vad det skulle innebära att leva utan honung och med ständigt hårda vindar kring husknuten.
'Cli-fi' essay in Swedish by writer SEE ''rätt nyligen myntades i USA termen cli-fi''
Dagens diktMay 25
, en av fem i jury.Prissumman är 30 000, priset delas ut i höst

Jesper Weithz follows
Sydsvenskan KulturMar 24
Bodil Malmsten återvänder till poesin. ser henne lägga hjärtat i lyrikens famn
Sydsvenskan KulturMar 16
: Jón Kalman Stefánssons prosa gör himlen högre, natten klarare, hjärtat vidare.
Helsingborgs DagbladJan 9
ser Liam Neeson slåss som en sliten superhjälte i "Taken 3":
Helsingborgs DagbladJan 7
hittar saker att se fram emot i vårens bokutgivning
Dan IsraelNov 24
"En detaljrik och fängslande guide till Doktor Nassers verklighet." recenserar Tina Thunander,
Fredrik Högberg follows
Diktbiblioteket Oct 7
Medverkande: Athena Farrokhzad, Magnus William-Olsson, & Jonas Ellerström!
Diktbiblioteket Oct 1
Vernissage och samtal med Athena Farrokhzad,Magnus William-Olsson, & Jonas Ellerström. 13 okt, kl 18!
benjamin krasnik follows
Svenska kultursidorSep 18
HD: Den långa vägen: om Björn Gedin Jonssons självbiografiska bok "Efter fallet".
Svenska kultursidorSep 10
HD: Flygtaxi till drömmarna: Bruno K. Öijer är i högform, konstaterar .
Helsingborgs DagbladJul 30
ser utställningen "Tingen i samlandets spår" på Fredriksdal:

Det som växer från väst


Om författaren

Jesper Weithz är journalist och grafisk designer. Han är chefredaktör för klimattidningen Effekt. Det som inte växer är döende är hans romandebut.


Judit Joób är 34 år, med ungerska rötter, jobbar som audionom, är gift och har två söner. Hon är en riktig anglofil och är svag för historiska romaner, men blir även glad över välskrivna noveller. Hon skriver bokrecensioner varje vecka på beasbokhylla. Som motvikt till jobbet, familjelivet och alla bokstäver hon konsumerar, löptränar hon som terapi.

Sök efter boken

När jag var barn var min största skräck inte monster under sängen utan krig, växthuseffekt och miljöförstöring. Det var så ogripbara företeelser som verkade omöjliga att bromsa eller hejda, och jag funderade mycket kring olika skräckscenarion som min generation möjligen skulle behöva kämpa sig igenom. Så småningom lugnade min vilda fantasi ner sig, och jag förstod att det finns möjligheter genom forskning, utveckling och samarbete så att vår negativa påverkan på jorden ska kunna hejdas.
Det som inte växer är döende handlar om Lotte och Henrik, unga och framgångsrika svenskar som är vana vid att kunna kontrollera varje aspekt av sin tillvaro. De har en liten dotter, Molly, och väntar nu sitt andra barn. Denna graviditet är första tecknet på en yta som krackelerar, Lotte drabbas nämligen av en mycket ovanlig och allvarlig komplikation. För att kunna få expertbehandling bestämmer sig familjen att flytta till São Paolo ett tag. De hyr ut sitt hus (dyrt och exklusivt egenritat med fem meters takhöjd vid kusten). Innan avresan ska Henrik bara ordna en sak åt sitt företag genom ett möte i London medan Lotte övervakar flyttfirman hemma och så ska de ses i Brasilien om ett par dagar. Så är deras plan i alla fall.
Men det blir inte riktigt som de tänkt sig, och när jag läser Jesper Weihtz debutroman är jag tillbaka i barndomens vanmakts- och ångestkänslor över att inte kunna förutse eller kontrollera något i tillvaron. Vädret och samhällsordningen vänder sig mot romanens karaktärer; Lotte och Molly hindras från att avresa från Arlanda genom att protesterande miljöaktivister lamslår flygplatsen. De vänder hem till det tomma huset med en snöstorm över sig medan Lotte börjar må allt sämre. Samtidigt tvingas Henrik att ta vägen mellan London och Brasilien genom Sri Lanka. Hans plan kapas av terrorister och den lilla familjen kämpar för sina liv tusentals mil från varandra.
Det låter som en osannolik kedja av händelser, men Weihtz lyckas göra den trovärdig och spännande i denna existentiella thriller. Först läser jag boken jättesnabbt för att få veta hur det går. Sen läser jag vissa delar långsammare för att upptäcka fler nyanser och den samhällskritik som jag snappat upp i media att boken påstås innehålla. Jesper Weithz är vid sidan av sitt arbete som journalist även chefredaktör för klimattidningen Effekt, som sedan 2009 försöker få människor att uppmärksamma växthuseffektens konsekvenser. Romanen i sig använder mer subtila litterära uttryck, och skriver inte sitt budskap med blinkande neonskyltar; det är istället välplacerad vanmakt hos dem som är vana vid makt, högpresterande höginkomsttagare som har råd att blunda och vara osolidariska, tills effekterna drabbar dem själva. Det är krypande obehag som stegras med väl valda detaljer sida vid sida med ironi, som Henriks affärspartners strålande affärsidé att evakuera rika från krisdrabbade områden. Det är det läskigt sannolika i att händelserna i boken faktiskt skulle kunna inträffa var som helst i vår välordnade västvärld.
Jag lyssnade ganska nyligen på Bokhoras bokpodd, avsnitt 8, där Jesper Weihtz pratar lite om sin debutroman. Först hade han tänkt skriva en pjäs om ordningen mellan fattiga och rika genom en händelse i Sri Lanka, men eftersom det inte verkade fungera i pjäsform blev det en roman med lite annan inriktning. Samhällskritik i all ära, men jag kan inte förlika mig med känslan av att författaren lämnar sina karaktärer i sticket och verkar njuta av den terror som drabbar dem. Straffa de arroganta aningslösa överkonsumerande medelklassmänniskorna! När detta nämns i bokpodden fnissar Weihtz lite förtjust erkännande att han ”kanske inte är så snäll mot sina karaktärer”.
Mina östeuropeiska gener med nedärvd hamstrar-instinkt för sämre tider har i alla fall triggats igång. Jag ser med andra ögon på vedförrådet som vi ”myseldar” med, vad bra att kunna värma sitt hus med braskamin egentligen! Nu fattas det bara ett litet förråd av konserver i garaget så kan jag känna mig lite förberedd på eventuella kriser.
Judit Joób
Publicerad: 2013-05-04 00:00 / Uppdaterad: 2013-05-04 08:50
Kategori: Dagens bok, Gästrecension, Recension | Recension: #5258

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