I was born in Massachusetts and became an environmentalist while studying at Tufts University for four years in the late 1960s and earky 1970s. I read ”Ecotopia,” Ernest Callenbach’s popular novel then about an attempt to create a green utopia on the West Coast. The book came out in 1975.
It wasn’t until I saw the 2004 disaster film ”The Day After Tomorrow,” which imagined the unimaginable, that I started thinking about the power of storytelling to rally like-minded citizens concerned for the future of life on Earth. About 10 years later, I began actitively promotiing a new literary term: “cli-fi,” for climate fiction. Later, I started ”The Cli-Fi Report” online.
I am committed to promoting the idea that well-told stories are and will be critical to raise awareness about the implications of climate change. Unpaid and unaffiliated, I have devoted the last several years to contacting writers, editors and literary sleuths, hoping to draw attention to the notion of cli-fi.
I’m basically a PR person. No Phd, no academic sponsors, just me and keypad.
My idea of a genre for speculative ”climate fiction” now known as cli-fi found some traction when it was endorsed on Twitter by Margaret Atwood, the novelist whose climate fiction trilogy, capped by ”MaddAddam” (in 2013), dealt with a corrupt anti-environmentalist. I acknowledge and applaud the broad list of other genres, popularized during the rise of the environmental movement in the 1970s and epitomized by such titles as Edward Abbey’s ”The Monkey Wrench Gang” and, more recently, Barbara Kingsolver’s ”Flight Behavior.”
But I’d like to think of cli-fi as “an independent, stand-alone genre,” focusing on those works of climate-themed fiction that consider the specific problem of human-made runaway global warming.
And yes, cli-fi needs character-driven stories. Half the new cli-fi novels out now are by women, half by men. It’s a diverse movment now and it’s good to see it grow.
A good story, I believe, will have the potential to attract readers, since the whole point is to reach people with emotions, not just preach to the choir.
So yes, I am a ”cli-fi missionary,” a global ambassador for cli-fi.
And the next 100 years will see more and more cli-fi novels, in many languages, from many countries. I wanted to promote the term as a platform for writers, critics, publishers, acquiring editors and agents. Bravo to everyone around the world for standing up for the many cli-fi novelists working the genre today and into the 22nd and 23rd centuries.
I learned this from a wise person: ”Curious, empathetic, and compassionate: This is what we should be as human beings.”