Cli-fi novels reflect the climate-changing future, and they are the future
There are approximately 100 novelists at this very moment writing cli-fi novels featuring future characters and events involved with climate change impact issues. There are over 100 novels in the pipeline as we speak, although most of them won’t see the light of day in a bookstore for another 10 -15 years as acquiring editors, literary agents, publishers and marketing departments work behind the scenes.
In addition, few of these cli-fi novels will scream “cli-fi novel” on the covers. In fact, most of these cli-fi novels in progress will be published as “literary fiction” or “science fiction” or just plain “novels.” In other words: storytelling by storytellers. That’s what literature is and always has been.
But yes, some of these cli-fi novels in the pipeline will use the “cli-fi” nickname as part of their advertising and marketing campaigns. This is how cli-fi works.
The term itself need not be front and center or on the cover. Cli-fi novels are stealth novels, under the radar, working their magic in quiet, underground ways. You might even be reading one now. You might even be writing one now.
Or you might have a plan to start writing a cli-fi novel or movie script in the future, soon.
All this is as it should be. Cli-fi novels and movies are here to stay.
Want to join “the cli-fi movement”? Everyone is welcome. You, too!
By the way, ”Annihilation” author Jeff VanderMeer has warmly and personally endorsed the rising new genre of ”cli-fi” and in a recent in Q&A with Pacific Standard’ magazine, he talked a bit about the rise of climate fiction as being a good thing.
When the interviewer asked: “Do you think science fiction and speculative fiction are particularly well equipped to address present environmental issues?”
Jeff VanderMeer replied: “I don’t think it’s a particular domain of science fiction. I think it’s something where we all have areas where we default to foundational assumptions that we should be questioning. I have my own spots like that, I’m absolutely sure, but it’s certainly not when it comes to animal behavior science and things like that.
”It’s an issue for discussion because I think mainstream literary realism is just as well equipped. And I do want to push science fiction writers to think more about these issues because science fiction can also fall back on old defaults of plot and trope that are not useful to exploring these things. Sometimes you need new fictional modes. You hear the term cli-fi, for example, and I’ve heard some science fiction writers say, “Well, why do we need that when we have the term ‘science fiction’?” Well, because it means climate fiction, and anyone can write climate fiction. It’s not necessarily science fiction — it’s not necessarily set in the future! And the reason is that it’s happening right now. Climate change is happening right now. The future is happening right now.
”I would also say that I’m seeing more and more mainstream literary writers writing in that space without necessarily writing science fiction. I think it’s a good thing, and I think there needs to be more of a dialogue between “science fiction writers” and “mainstream literary writers” when there is that divide. I don’t personally see that divide, I don’t personally acknowledge it, and in my friendships and who I read I just don’t really give a crap. But for those who feel like they’re on one side of a divide or another, it can make communication difficult, and can make people not be in communication, and think that the “other side” is not actually dealing with issues that they are [dealing with] — if you actually read the work.”