Daniel Zeigler in New Jersey believes “It’s Cli-Fi’s Time.”
That was the title he gave to a recent oped he wrote, hoping to inspire editors and publishers in New York, London and Sydney to commission and aquire and publish more cli-fi novels, a new literary genre also dubbed “climate fiction” based on its relationship to that old standby “science fiction.”
I asked Zeigler to tell me more, and he did.
“Joy Lo Dico is a British opinion writer for the inimitable Financial Times. She suggests that if scientists can’t budge the balustrade of indifference among the
global sovereignties, it’s time for the novelists to scale the parapets,” he shared.
“The dreary, escalating fate of the world is no longer a Sci-Fi world view,” he added, noting:
“From Sci-Fi, Cli-Fi metamorphized as its own storyline; emerging as
its own entity, opportunely.”
Zeigler says that while novelists have written books about Climate Change (as ”Cli-Fi”), the public has cavalierly waved off. The topic, like a bad headline, has been
sophomorically ignored. Cli-Fi hasn’t exactly caught on, planet-wide.
“In whose hands does this blunder belong? Has Cli-Fi’s paucity, all
along, matched its readers lack of trepidation to a seemingly dubious
threat?” he asks.
“Have publishers dimmed the prospects of writers engaged with its
burgeoning curricula? Are we as backwards about Climate Change,
as we once were about the Earth being flat? Isn’t the pen mightier
than stratospheric CO2? More cli-fi publishing, please!” he implores.
Joy Lo Dico in London claims that Cli-Fi is now a ‘growing’ genre of urgently
enlightened lit. But no novel has yet garnered acclaim like a killer
Stephen King plot, Zeigler maintains.
”No cli-fi author has become a championed laureate. The breakthrough
bestseller hasn’t been born or bronzed yet,” he adds.
Cli-Fi novels have been written since 1962, beginning with British sci-fi author J.G. Ballard’s novel, ”Drowning.”
A literary journalist from Boston, one of the originators in of the Cli-Fi abbreviation for ”climate fiction,” believes publishers have to step up to the plate, Zeigler says.
Zeigler has message he told me in a recent email: “Corralling writers to tackle Climate Change is only half the battle. Publishers must lasso the worthy works of literary quality and dispatch them to the ill-informed populace.”
Can current novels sound the alarm about Climate change? he asks. ”There has been a multiplying appearance of them, but they haven’t sparked the public yet.”
In contrast, Rachel Carson’s nonfiction book titled ”Silent Spring”, written in 1962, had the citizenry of America aroused, as if hunting down Frankenstein with their pitchforks, in the months after its publication. So why has ”Cli-Fi” been received so tepidly?
America has had a number of tomes that compelled the countryside
to wrath and action: ”Common Sense” by Thomas Paine, ”Uncle Tom’s
Cabin” by Harriet Beecher Stowe, ”The Jungle” by Upton Sinclair.
”What is truth, asked Pilate, contemplated Socrates. The truth about
climate change is identical to the footnote in history about the
obliviousness of the Pompeiians living under the smoldering,
inevitable fate of Mt. Vesuvius. They were merry under an ominous
shadow of disaster. Aren’t we?” Zeigler asks.
”Millenia later, Pompei’s inhabitants are still frozen in their fetal positions they were reduced to, seconds after the obviousness of their undeniable miscalculation,” he laments.
His conclusion? “If ever a society waited too long to act, it was the victims of Pompei.”
”Or in an increasingly short time: us.”