It’s not been that long since the cli-fi term was featured on an NPR radio segment (produced and aired nationwide by then freelancer Angela Evancie on April 20, 2013) and since then, there’s been no holding the term back, with editors worldwide looking for freelance science and literary reporters interested in pitching feature stories about the rise of the what might very well be the most important new literary genre of of the 21st century.
The NPR story was headlined with a question:
”So Hot Right Now: Has Climate Change Created A New Literary Genre?”
“The genre has come to be called climate fiction — “cli-fi,” for short,” the subhead read.
The NPR piece, which went viral in a sudden and unexpected way, was followed the very next day with a follow-up piece by a freelance writer for the Christian Science Monitor.
From there, the meme was picked up by British freelancer Rodge Glass who was asked by Guardian editors to do a blog post about the new term.
In 2014, the Atlantic magazine assigned freelance writer J.K. Ullrich to do a longform story about the rise of cli-fi among American literati.
That same year, the New York Times sent roving national reporter Richard Pina-Perez to fly out to the University of Oregon to interview cli-fi expert Stephanie LeMenager who was then teaching a spring semester class on the the new term for both novels and movies.
Since then, from 2015 to the present, the internet has been uploading dozens of articles a year on cli-fi, most of them written by freelancers, who pitched their cli-fi “listicles” and summer cli-fi reading guides to editors nationwide.
So there is plenty of room now for freelancers to find open doors in newsrooms at magazines and newspapers (and internet sites like Ozy and High Country News, Slate and Salon) to pitch cli-fi features stories to waiting editors.
There’s good pay, there’s good exposure for bylines and it’s a busy market.
Freelancers in Canada and the U.S., as well as in Britain and Australia, are finding the cli-fi news articles an easy sell after a good, strong pitch goes into the email stream. Try it. Cli-fi is in the air now, and it’s here to stay.
For the next 100 years, editors are going to be looking for new angles and takes on the power of literature and cinema as science communication tools.
Science writer John Abraham submitted a piece to the Guardian in the UK titled “Cli-Fi — A New Way to Talk about Climate Change” and it was published there and went viral..
Freelance reporter Sarah Stankorb pitched this piece to Good magazine and it got published with the headline:
“Climate Fiction, or ‘Cli-Fi,’ Is the Hottest New Literary Genre.”
A NYU grad and freelance science reporter interviewed William Liggett for a piece about his new cli-fi novel titled “Watermelon Snow” and she emailed me as well to get some feedback on what cli-fi was all about and how it tied in with Liggett’s novel.
So for freelance science reporters with a literary bent, the cli-fi meme is calling you. There is still a lot of territory to explore, quotes to write down, and people to interview, from all walks of life — scientists, novelists, literary critics, book reviewers, Hollywood producers and Broadway stage directors and writers.
A local science beat reporter with an unusual background often seeks hidden corners of local environmental policy in connection with the cli-fi literary genre and has been rewarded with top honors for her work.
Her learning curve, her award-winning cli-fi reporting and what she thinks the profession must do to build its future is an inspiration for all freelance science reporters with an interest in literary matters as well.