Thursday, August 07, 2014

Environmental Book Club

Last year I discovered climate fiction, also known as cli-fi, a term coined by Dan Bloom. Earlier this week, Kelly Jensen at Stacked did a post called Get Genrefied: Climate Fiction (Cli-Fi) on climate fiction for YAs.

Is Cli-Fi Apocalyptic?

Notice that a lot of these books appear to be apocalyptic. Is that a requirement of this genre-like category? Why does a story about climate change always involve society falling apart? We experienced a Little Ice Age as recently as the early 1800s. Did the Earth's citizens go, "Life as we know it is over?" I think not. And if someone had told them, "Hey, it's going to get a lot hotter over the next century and a half or so," would they have gone, "Well, that sucks" or would they have said, "Thank you, God!"

Why can't we have a cli-fi book that involves a snow world and a society has evolved in which everyone skates and cross-country skis and it's Christmas all the time? No, seriously, why not a winter world where a culture has simply evolved to function there? Or a desert world that has been made livable by way of technology. ("Better living through science!")

Climate As The Story Vs. Climate As The Setting

I suspect what's happening here is that, as Kelly says, cli-fi is "fiction that features climate change at the core of the story." Making the climate change some kind of negative change provides the storyline. Whereas the kind of thing I'm talking about is a situation in which the climate is the setting of the story. The story is about something else. Would that be climate fiction?

Coming Up

Though I most definitely am not a fan of apocalyptic fiction, I'll grit my teeth and try to pick one of these books from Kelly's list for a reading effort. She also refers readers to Eco-Fiction & Cli-Fi Books, which I've just started following on Twitter.  I should have more in the future on this subject.



gail, nice to see you picking up this thread again. in fact, cli fi short stories and novels and movies CAN BE many things to many people, and they can be utopian in nature, with poz happy endings and they do not have to be about AGW and the end of the world as we know it. smile. writers will go off in many directions, sure. all POV are welcome. there will even be climate denialsts and sketpics writing cli fi novels and even Christian Rapture believers too who believe the Rapture is more urgent than AGW, which is a hoax anyways. again, Cli fi will encompass many different themes as you suggest and BRAVO! Utopian, dystopian, pure climate storm chaser thriller, polar city life sagas, hundreds of themes will appear. BTW, Paul Collins has created a very good FACEBOOK group called CLI FI CENTRAL you might want to join, just ask for an invite and search CLI FI CENTRAL at FB page or send me your email to danbloom AT gmail DOT com and i will make sure Paul invites you. Over 200 members now from academia, writers, PR, news media, book critics, movie critics, hundreds. and growing re Daniel Halevi Bloom ‏@clificentral Paul Collins Sets Up ''Cli Fi Central'' Facebook Members Group - WELCOME!


Facebook link here:!/groups/320538704765997/

As the cli fi genre of literature continues to worldbuild a global community, several online sites now are bringing together people interested in the emerging genre, either as readers or writers, as the Washington Post recently reported in an oped by this reporter in the
Post’s “PostEverything” section.

Among the online sites focusing on the cli fi genre is one set up by aconcerned citizen in London, who feels that the issues facing humankind in the future will be important to solve. One way is to publish cli fi novels.

Meet Paul Collins.

Collins set up his Facebook cli-fi group (”Cli-fi Central”) to encourage a dialogue between anyone with an interest in the emerging genre. Paul is an environmental lawyer who has worked at the heart of the UK government advising on climate change issues and drafting
legislation. He strongly believes cli-fi has enormous potential for engaging a wide and diverse global audience on the many issues around climate change and could help shape the debate.

His FB group now has over 100 members, and while it is a private grow and all posts and comments remain private, anyone is welcome to apply to join the group, Collins says.

His background fits. Paul is an oceanography graduate and has a Masters in environmental
law from University College, London. He currently works for the UK’s main environmental regulators, the Environment Agency, as a legal advisor on climate change issues. Previously, Paul worked as an environmental lawyer in a law firm, advising banks, retailers and manufacturers on environmental matters.

Duende said...

I have attempted to explore what cli-fi is at I have been archiving climate change novels and other eco-fiction for over a year now and working with environmental literature for a couple decades. That doesn't mean that I know all the answers, but probably more that I ask a lot of questions and love exploring climate change and other environmental themes in literature. :)

There's also a growing Google+ Community hosted by my site: to join the community (not just about cli-fi, broader in scope and a public group of artists, authors, scientists, academics, reporters, and other professionals). I would encourage this group also if you're interested in these eco-genres! It's a pretty lively discussion at times but you are invited to add your voice to the ongoing dialog!