The now popular term of cli-fi was first promoted publicly in a book marketing and promotion campaign for ”a climate thriller” by novelist Jim Laughter titled ”Polar City Red” in 2011. The term also appeared in a Wired magazine movie review by Scott Thill. The Canadian novelist Margaret Atwood was another early user, in a Twitter message in 2012. This helped to bring the word, and the genre, to much wider public attention (to the extent that an article in the Irish Times newspaper in December 2012 mistakenly said that Atwood had invented the term!).
Question: So Dan, are you ready to retire now?
Dan: Yes, in many ways I am stepping back already from the day to day upkeep of my blog and website, and there are enough other people writing about cli-fi, tweeting links to it, blogging about it, on their own, with no direct connection to me, and I am glad to see this happening. I can sit back, step back and watch cli-fi unfold on its own, in its own way. It’s future is assured now and things look good for the growth and acceptance of the genre over the next 30 years.
Question: Who is keeping the cli-fi flame burning now day after day?
Dan; Well, there are dozens of people, and cli-fi has taken on a life of its own now, supported by hundreds of people around the world. There are book clubs that now meet once a month to discuss cli-fi novels and short story collections. And there are literary critics like the current editor at the Chicago Review of Books regularly writing about cli-fi trends, interviewing authors, tweeting, retweeting and generally keeping the cli-fi flame burning all through the night 12 months of the year. (She has personally asked me not to mention her name in print so I respect her wishes here. But of course, everyone knows who she is.) She has been writing a monthly cli-fi trends literary column since early 2017 and it appears online every month at the Chicago Review of Books website where she is now the editor in chief. She recently did a radio segment with the BBC World Service where she talked about the rise of the cli-fi genre and where the host of the show referred to her as a “cli-fi aficionado.” In September she will be appearing at a literary festival in Italy to talk about cli-fi trends with Italian reporter and novelist Fabbio Deotto.
So she one of the pivotal people keeping cli-fi afloat now and well into the future. I am sure since she is still young and full of ideas and energy that she is someone to watch. I think she’s in her late 30s or early 40s. We first connected online about cli-fi back in late 2016 when she was thinking of writing a monthly cli-fi column for her magazine, and the first interview she did for the column was with me. I’ve been following her career ever since and love what’s she’s accomplished.. She’s brilliant, energized and deeply committed to the genre in all its aspects. So I expect we will see more of her in the future, even possibly writing a nonfiction book about the genre, too.
Question: So what’s next for you, Dan?
Dan: Next? Well, I’m 70, heading to 80 and I am not sure how much longer I will be alive, given a few health issues I have, having to do with type 2 adult onset diabetes and a ”stented” heart condition following a mild heart attack in 2009. So I’m not long for this Earth. Ten more years at most, more likely around five years. Then again, one never knows. My mother lived to be 96, and my father made it to 90.
Question: Are you worried about the future prospects for cli-fi after you’re gone?
Dan: No no, not at all. I have full confidence that the current cli-fi army will carry on. I’ll be gone from the blogging and tweeting and Google News search window scene, but cli-fi items will continue to appear on online searches worldwide, in dozens of languages. Cli-fi has gone global and is popular now in Chile, Germany, France, Italy, Norway, Mexico, Brazil, Sweden and China. Even sci-fi writers and literary critics have taken up cli-fi issues, among them Charlie Jane Anders and Annalee Newitz, Sam J. Miller, Jeff Vandermeer, James Bradley, Rebecca Evans, Michael Svoboda and Cat Sparks. It’s a whole new ball game.
Question: Anything else you want to add as you prepare to quietly walk off into your sunset years?
Dan: Cli-fi is in very good hands now, for the next 100 years, as dozens of new literary critics and novelists will keep the flame alive through the 2020s and 2030s. And I am so glad to know this. This was, of course, my vision back in 2011 when I first started helping to promote the term in the pages of the New York Times, the Guardian, The Financial Times, NPR and the Chicago Review of Books. I can retire now happy and content and look back with happy surprise at how far we’ve come, this global cli-fi community determined to make a difference around the world with novels, movies, plays and poems.