The cli-fi literary genre is set for a long shelf-life over the next 100 years, and the Penguin Modern Classics Cli-Fi Series is gearing up for a major public publishing splash in 2030, according to British publishing sources that this blogger recently spoke with.
Jessica Harrison, the 30-something Oxford-educated editor of a new series from Penguin Modern Classics, admits that for her the weird and vulgar ”sci-fi” term she first encountered as a young girl at first evoked book or magazine covers with “half-naked girls and purple planets.” But she has grown up since then and runs a tight generation ship now.
Harrison has said she noted that some novels — notably John Christopher’s –The Death of Grass– and Fred Hoyle’s –”The Black Cloud” — were selling well. Perhaps because they are, yes, cli-fi, in that the Hoyle is near-apocalyptic and the Christopher is post-apocalyptic, according to British book critic Bryan Appleyward writing in the Times. “Thanks to Covid-19 we are into apocalypses at the moment,” he says.
The new Penguin series (part 1 and part 2) is good and should go some way to dispelling the illusion that sci-fi can’t be rgarded as literature, Appleyward adds. What will the Penguin Modern Classics of Cli-Fi look like when and if it see the ligjht of day in the 2030s?
To a certain extent the Hollywoodisation of cli-fi in the next ten years will play a role in how Harrison chooses her selections for the new cli-fi series, if the funding comes through.
I’m optimistic now since cli-fi novels have and movies have gone global, with new waves among Asian and African writers, and many novels now in French, Germany, Spanish and Swedish. Cli-fi will survive because it is a way of seeing — not aliens, not time warps, not superluminal travels and generation ships, but ourselves. Cli-fi is about us, and will be for the next 100 years.