Danny Bloom
I seek the truth wherever it lies.

Climate Change Nurtures a New Genre Of Science Fiction Called ‘Cli-Fi’

While science fiction as a literary and movie genre has been around since 1954 — for over 50 years now — and dubbed ”sci-fi” by the media, climate change issues in the 21st century that we are in now has nurtured a new genre of science fiction that’s been dubbed “Cli-Fi.”

Climate change has become prominent in headlines in recent weeks with the advent of several hard-hitting hurricanes and typhoons worldwide, as ocean temperatures get warmer and more powerful storms affect a slowly-warming — drip! drip! drip! — world.

And these media headlines in the New York Times, the BBC, The Washington Post and the Guardian, have helped nurture a relatively new genre of fiction — more specifically, ”climate fiction,” also known more popularly as ”cli-fi” — that focuses on climate change and its impacts events.

During a recent appearance at the Phoenix Art Museum in Arizona, Arizona State University’s Piper Center hosted the New York Times bestselling author Kim Stanley Robinson, who writes both sci-fi and cli-fi now. His talk was called “The Comedy of Coping: Alarm and Resolve in Climate Fiction” and it was well-received by the audience of students, professors and fellow writers.

Robinson’s latest cli-fi novel is titled “New York York 2140″ and that is what he talked about. An imagined Manhattan set 120 years in the future from now, and a city that is then-submerged under 50 feet of sea water. As you can imagined, all hell breaks loose in the inventive storytelling that Robinson is famous for.

So what happens when sci-fi meets cli-fi? Or as Stan Yang, a friend of mine in California recently asked me: ”When Sci-fi collides with Cli-fi, which will win?”

It’s a good question. I told Mr Yang what I am going to tell readers of this blog now: When sci-fi collides with cli-fi, both will win. Because sci-fi gave birth to cli-fi, and cli-fi now nurtures sci-fi. It’s a win-win for both genres when they collide, as they do in Robinson’s new comic novel. The result is a kind of hybrid of two standalone, independent genres.

As the 21st century moves inexorably toward the 22nd century — and onward for the next 1,000 years — sci-fi and cli-fi will prove to be cousins joined at the hip. Some novelists will call their short stories and novels ”sci-fi,” while others will call their work ”cli-fi.” There’s room on this Earth (and in literary circles) for both genres in this age of the Anthrocene.

Two genres that matter now more than ever.

 

About the Author
Danny Bloom is editor of The Cli-Fi Report at www.cli-fi.net. Danny graduated from Tufts University in Boston in 1971 with a major in Yiddish Literature. A newspaper editor and reporter since his days in Alaska, Japan and Taiwan, he has lived and worked in 14 countries and speaks French, Japanese and Chinese. He hopes to live until 2032, when his tombstone will read "I came, I saw, I ate cho-dofu."
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