Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Cli-Fi: Speculative Fiction about Climate Change

University courses on global warming have become common, and Prof. Stephanie LeMenager’s new class here at the University of Oregon has all the expected, alarming elements: rising oceans, displaced populations, political conflict, endangered animals.The goal of this class, however, is not to marshal evidence for climate change as a human-caused crisis, or to measure its effects — the reality and severity of it are taken as given — but how to think about it, prepare for it and respond to it. Instead of scientific texts, the class, “The Cultures of Climate Change,” focuses on films, poetry, photography, essays and a heavy dose of the mushrooming subgenre of speculative fiction known as climate fiction, or cli-fi... Climate novels fit into a long tradition of speculative fiction that pictures the future after assorted catastrophes. First came external forces like aliens or geological upheaval, and then, in the postwar period, came disasters of our own making.
~Richard Pérez-Peña, "College Classes Use Arts to Brace for Climate Change"

With Earth Day just behind us, we take the environmental bull by the horns in mentioning a new fiction genre that has been labeled "Cli-Fi". Science fiction readers have most likely read novels featuring a post-apocalyptic future before, but climate-related apocalyptic fiction has been proliferating widely across genres lately. If you are a reader of dystopian fiction interested in some titles envisioning the struggle to survive after catastrophic climate change such as a new ice age, rising sea levels, global warming, natural resources (including our water supply) being sucked dry, and general ecological collapse, we have some titles to suggest!

The Windup Girl by Paolo Bacigalupi

Flight Behavior by Barbara Kingsolver

Solar by Ian McEwan

Odds Against Tomorrow by Nathaniel Rich

On Such a Full Sea by Chang-rae Lee

The Year of the Flood by Margaret Atwood

The Healer by Antti Tuomainen

The Rapture by  Liz Jensen

A Friend of the Earth by T. Coraghessan Boyle

After the Snow by S. D. Crockett [YA]

Not a Drop to Drink by Mindy McGinnis [YA]


Global warning: the rise of 'cli-fi' [The Guardian]

So Hot Right Now: Has Climate Change Created a New Literary Genre? [NPR]

Weathering the Change: Cli-Fi Settles In For the Duration [VOYA]

Cli-Fi: Birth of a Genre [Dissent]

Climate Change: The hottest thing in science fiction [Grist]

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