Danny Bloom
I seek the truth wherever it lies.

Why the next 99 years look bright for ‘climate fiction,’ a genre dubbed ‘cli-fi’

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.

More information about the future of the Penguin Modern Classics Climate Fiction series  can be found here and here.

About the Author
Danny Bloom is editor of The Cli-Fi Report at www.cli-fi.net. Danny graduated from Tufts University in Boston in 1971 with a major in Yiddish Literature. A newspaper editor and reporter since his days in Alaska, Japan and Taiwan, he has lived and worked in 14 countries and speaks French, Japanese and Chinese. He hopes to live until 2032, when his tombstone will read "I came, I saw, I ate cho-dofu."