CLI FI EXPLAINED, a summing up by Lisa Devaney in the UK
What is cli-fi?
While travelling in the USA recently I picked up a copy of Wired magazine and stumbled upon a new name
US Wired features cli-fi, December 2013
for a literary genre called cli-fi.
Wired had it signalled out in a section called Jargon Watch (page 38, December 2013 US Wired) and said about it:
“Climate fiction. A subgenre of dystopian fiction set in the near future, in which climate change wreaks havoc on an otherwise familiar planet, cli-fi has attracted literary authors like Ian McEwan and Barbara Kingsolver.”
EGADS! I thought to myself. I myself have, in fact, written a cli-fi ebook!
Until discovering cli-fi, I had been categorizing it under the genre of sci-fi. Indeed, my book about a woman living in the year 2030 who gets abducted by an eco-survivalist community fits very well in the cli-fi genre, more than sci-fi. But does anyone really know what cli-fi means?
I started tweeting about the genre and soon I was contacted by the inventor of the term cli-fi himself! Danny Bloom is a writer and climate activist who considers himself a world citizien and is the bloke who first coined the term cli-fi in about 2007. He tells me that it is a subgenre of sci-fi. Or maybe even a genre of its own. Time will tell, he says.
Danny is using the term partly because it is a sensible and timely trend in literature with authors writing more and more fictional stories with climate change as a backdrop or central plot.
Partly, Danny is furiously working hard to make the world know about cli-fi because of his own passion of climate activism.
Mr Bloom is a lifelong newspaper reporter and editor, with 40 years of professional journalism experience and has spent six years deeply working as PR operative in a climate activist kind of way. He’s created cli-fi to give writers, editors, publishers and readers a whole new hook to hang their writing and reading interests on regarding climate change issues.
More and more authors are starting to use the genre, including me. World famous authors like Margaret Atwood (The Handmaid’s Tale, MaddAddam) have written climate change fiction and are starting to get behind supporting the cli-fi genre. Atwood even tweeted about cli-fi and she also wrote an oped about CLI FI in the Huffington Post last year. Danny tells me that a Canadian editor named Mary Woodbury is keeping the most up-to-date documentation of the cli-fi movement on her webzine clifibooks.com.
One requirement of the cli-fi genre is that the author accepts that climate change is a reality that is
Are these unseasonal early blossoms in London a sign of climate change?
impacting the planet now and in the future. Although, people who are skeptics or denialists can also write cli fi novels, such as 1994's STATE OF FEAR by the late Michael Crichton, which was anti-climate change and the cli fi genre is open to all points of view, pro and con AGW, sure, says Danny.
In my book, climate change is an important backdrop to the main character Mya Brand’s life, and presents her with survival challenges. So, no climate change naysayers need apply to be part of cli-fi!
Danny gets a lot of his learning’s and views on climate change from James Lovelock, who he has been a student of since 2006. He wrote an oped online somewhere titled "How I Became James Lovelock's Accidental Student". Google it. Lovelock's 95, Bloom's 65. Both are optimists! He is also a daily media surfer who scans newspapers and websites everyday and he has not taken a vacation in the past 8 years. He is online in some way or another every day, and no vacations: he does not fly in airplanes anymore and stays local.
“We have thirty generations to stop carbon emissions over our human species,” he said.
I’m all for a literary genre that fully accepts climate change as a real and inevitable threat to our planet. I have taken to heart the advice of climate change scientists who proclaim that we have thirty years until our planet is potentially destroyed by climate change.
This is why I’ve set my book 30 years into the future, at a time when humanity is faced with environmental destruction that was never stopped. I
’ve imagined what the world would be like, and invented a whole isolated group of people who could be busy now building their own eco-survivalist city in preparation for the need to survive.
Danny, using his PR noodle, is 24/7 promoting cli-fi, including getting it featured on America’s National Public Radio (NPR), being in Wired and many other publications. Below are a few recent articles about cli-fi:
In addition to making cli-fi a respected new literary genre, Danny is in the planning stages of helping to launch an award opportunity for an upcoming climate change author. The Nevil Shute-like Literary Award for Climate-Themed Novels is going to give a US$1,000,000 to the author that can write a novel much like Shute’s 1957 novel “ON THE BEACH” and do for the world what Shute did in raising awareness about nuclear winter issues. For more information on the award and how to enter see here. The first award will launch in 2020.
If you are writing or have written a cli-fi novel – you may want to connect with Danny Bloom. Follow him on Twitter (he is 24/7 there, even in his sleep, apparently) at @polarcityman.