Saturday, August 1, 2015

A big boost for 'TAKLUB' cli fi movie from major global novelist Margaret Atwood

Margaret E. Atwood THE CANADIAN  NOVELIST and FUTURE NOBEL PRIZE WIINER retweeted.........
    [July 31] 
 cli fi movie news SPAIN movie called #taklub  from the Philippines -…

Over 50 academic & media links:

Friday, July 31, 2015

The long and winding road to find an agent and a publisher: but THERE IS LIGHT AT THE END OF THE TUNNEL, YES!


'Cli-fi mystery''
novelist Charlene D'Avanzo has signed with a publisher -- Torrey House Press-- and their motto is "conservation through literature" which matches the author's intentions exactly, she says in a recent post. The first mystery in her "Maine Oceanography Series" will be released in May, 2016 ("Death in a Hot Sea") and she's working on the second novel in the 3-book series now and will deliver it in December. YES: NICE: She has a 3 book contract, arranged by her agent, Dawn Dowdle  of the Blue Ridge Literary Agency, LLC.

see interview with her agent here:


On Sun, Feb 9, 2014 at 5:59 AM, Charlene D'Avanzo
wrote to me out of the blue at Cli Fi Central:

>> Dan - I've read your Cli-Fi blog and wonder if you can help me. I've written
>> a mystery titled "Death in a Hot Sea" and am looking for an agent. Just FYI
>> - my query is below so you can see what this is about. Thanks so very much,
>> Charlene D'Avanzo
>> Dear AGENT: ........ I hope you will enjoy ''DEATH IN A HOT
>> SEA,'' a 72,000 word amateur sleuth mystery and the first in [what I hope will be] a series. My
query is below and I appreciate your time and consideration.
Maine oceanographer Mara Tusconi excited as she bounds onto Research Vessel Endeavor for a cruise
focusing on the biggest environmental issue of our time - Earth's warming.
>> But the battle against climate change gets personal - and deadly - when .......
When Mara investigates........she uncovers a seaweed-biofuel hoax
subsidized by a gigantic oil conglomerate. ......
>> PS: I am a marine ecologist and an award winning environmental educator, author
>> of a non-fiction book and dozens of scientific articles, plus editor of two
>> scholarly journals. I'm also an avid sea kayaker with a house in Maine (sea
>> kayaking is key in this novel).
This book would interest fans who enjoy
>> mysteries by Nevada Barr (Park ranger Anna Pigeon series) and Barbara Ross
>> (Maine clambake series).

I wrote back to her the same day, giving her this advice:

On Sun, Feb 9, 2014 at 11:07 AM, Dan Bloom <> wrote:
> Hi Charlene!
> I used to spend teenage summers in Maine, summer camp in Bar Harbor,
> and climbing Mt Cadilac, 1960s.
> I love your proposal! Sounds great for cli fi mystery YES.
> and there is a writer in Finland named ANTTI Tuoaminen  he wrote a cli fi
> NOIR novel called THE HEALER, published now in English too, google it
> at
> amazon and it is cli fi thriller detective story set in the future.
> scary and very
> cli fi. he emailed me too. he got lucky because he already had track
> record in Finland with three earlier novels so his publisher did the book.
> To find an agent is so hard. Near impossbile these days. Unless
> you live next door to STephen King and he does u a favor and
> asks HIS agent to rep you. otherwise, they don't answer their mail
> My advice is this: publish the book as an ebook and POD book paperback
> with a indie publisher, i know a good man at Sunbury Press in Pennsylviania
> he has done 3 books for me, and he has a good PR website to get word
> out because that is KEy, i would ask him to publish your book as a CLI
> FI MYSTERY on the cover it ready to send?

> google LAWRENCE KNORR or write to him at
> That's my advice, but the PR and promotion will be up to you and the
> mass media will likely NOT review the book, but you can use internet
> and blogs to get word out and if the first book does well and catches
> on, an agent might appear for second book. TRY IT. most people these
> days are doing it this
> way. a search for an agent without an introcution is near impssiobe

My second letter to Charlene: with more advice:

Dear Charlene,

There are lots of great sites for aspiring writers to help them on
their route to publication. Here are few that I I FOUND ONLINE




another letetr to Charlene reads:

On Sun, Feb 9, 2014 at 9:58 PM, Dan Bloom <> wrote:
> Hi Charlene
> GO on this search first......and you are right, an agent leads
> to an EDITOR who is vital, and a major publisher leads to great PR and
> distribution. ITS THE WAY TO GO but so so hard to through the gates.
> On Sun, Feb 9, 2014 at 9:50 PM, Charlene D'Avanzo
> wrote:
>> Dan - thanks so very, very much for your ideas and positive energy. I really
>> do appreciate it
>> I may follow your suggestions with Sunbury Press in the future, but at this
>> point I am still going to try to find an agent.
I belong to a wonderful
>> organization called Sisters in Crime which sponsors "Guppies" groups (the
>> great unpublished - they have a terrific sense of humor) and within Guppies
>> I belong to a Agent Quest. We give each other advise with getting an agent
>> (e.g., critiquing the query). People in this group DO get agents. It seems
>> to be a matter of persistence if you have something good, which I do believe
>> I have. About half the agents I query get back to me with a polite "no" and
>> many never get back as you say - but their website say that is the case.
>> Right now, one agent has requested more from me - first 50 pages and the
>> synopsis.

>> Another reason for going with a agent is the help you get from an editor -
>> which I am very interested in getting. I've been working with an editor I
>> hired for over a year and she's been extremely helpful (this is my first
>> attempt at fiction).

>> So, we'll see. I may well go the self-publish route. My motivation for
>> writing "Death in a Hot Sea" is very serious - that scientists are doing a
>> terrible job reaching the public about the climate change crisis
. So
>> perhaps the arts are a better way - and I would like to reach as many people
>> as possible with this book.
>> Charlene

another letter from CHARLENE to me:

Dan - I leave today for a one week cross country ski trip in Bryce Nat'l Park in Utah. I will get back to you when I return. Thanks for this idea, Charlene

LATER I WROTE TO HER with more informal advice for her novel and finding a home for it:


i can help with Pr ideas

my hobby

1. you publish the book ASAP with SunBeery Press
2. you do intervuiews when book is out with Hampshire College
press release office first of all
3. then with Springfield REpublican newsppaer local news
4. then with Boston Globe newspaper and magazine section
5. then with Massachusetts associated press reporter in in Sprinfrield
or Boston
6. then with NEW YORK TIEMS science reporter Justin Gillis
7. then with Publishers Weekly magazine in NYC
8. then you write oped on sciene ed for NYTimes with book listed as
your recnt publciation
9. then you do TV interview with GMA and TODAY SHOW and CNN and BBC
10 then........

but first you need a book in your hands to show reporters. POD means
PRINT ON DEMAND, and Larry can make a good quality ebook first
and also a POD book which means when orders come in, he prints
it and sends out. he is honest man


and another letter from Charline to me:

Hi Dan - Thanks for your PR and publishing advice for my novel. Actually, at this time, I am waiting on a few things. I went to a "CrimeWave" conference in Portland, Maine (near where I live) and the acquisition editor from Five Star Publishers, a small firm I really like, loved the 5000 words she read. She asked me to submit a query with her recommendation. I know there is a long way to go with this but I still want to pursue a traditional publishing route with a small publisher.

Thanks for keeping me in mind. Charlene


> On 2/21/14, Charlene D'Avanzo <.> wrote:
>> Dan - Terrific news about the "Time" magazine cli fi interview - absolutely terrific.
>> For some reason, your email with the suggestion about what I might do
>> disappeared, along with my response to you. Please tell me once more
>> which site you are referring to. Thanks a lot, charlene
in conclusion:

WELL,  TO MAKE A LONG STORY SHORT.....Charline found the an agent, and the agent brought the book project to a publisher and Torrey House Press went for it, and asked for a three book contract, and Charline is now on her way. BRAVO!

and as you read at the top:


''Cli-fi mystery'' novelist Charlene D'Avanzo has signed with a publisher -- Torrey House Press-- and their motto is "conservation through literature" which matches the author's intentions exactly, she says in a recent post. The first mystery in her "Maine Oceanography Series" will be released in May, 2016 ("Death in a Hot Sea") and she's working on the second novel in the series now and will deliver it in December. She has a 3-book contract, arranged by her agent. Agents and publishers these days for YA novels and mystery/detective novels prefer and like 3-book contracts with their new authors. It ropes them in, and publishers profit from the concept, and writers get a three book time period to prove they have a reputation that can attract fans and readers. GO GO GO Charlene. Nice to meet you back in 2014 out of the blue.



Contact Us / Submissions

Contact Us

Torrey House Press, LLC
2806 Melony Drive
Salt Lake City, UT 84124
(801) 810-9THP

For all foreign and subsidiary rights inquiries, please contact our rights agent:
Nancy Stauffer Cahoon
Nancy Stauffer Associates, Literary Agents
30 Corbin Drive #1203
P.O. Box 1203
Darien, CT 06820 USA
Tel: 203 202 2500

Submission Information

Torrey House Press (THP) publishes Western literature and environmentally-oriented fiction and nonfiction for the book trade. We are interested in well-crafted works of narrative nonfiction and literary fiction with a natural history, environmental or a natural landscape theme, or about the politics and practice of sustainable living.

In an effort to be green and organized we strongly prefer that you submit your manuscript electronically through our submission manager link below.

If you have a completed work that you feel is a good fit for THP, please submit your entire manuscript along with a synopsis, some background on yourself and why you feel you are a good fit for THP, and your thoughts on who your market and readership is.
For queries on proposed work, please submit a one or two page overview of your book idea along with information about yourself, why you are qualified to write on the subject, who your audience is and how you would propose to market your work. 
If we like what we see we will request a full proposal.
For a full proposal, once requested, please include a cover letter, a resume, a preliminary table of contents, a one or two-paragraph summary of each chapter, a list of other books on the topic, details and specifics of your target audience, a summary of any market research you have done, and any completed chapters you have.
When you submit please tell us how you found us in your cover letter.
Thank you for your interest in Torrey House Press. Please allow up to three months for us to get back to you.

Mary interviews Charlene online here:

BRIEF EXCERPT from avery good  interview with Mary:

Mary: You have written a novel, Death in a Hot Sea, about an oceanographer in Maine threatened by climate change doubters. This novel is with an agent now so has not been published yet. How much can you tell us about this novel? What inspired you to write it, and do you foresee continuing as a novelist after this book?
Charlene: The inspiration to write this mystery came to me as I listened to Ray Bradley, a well known UMass climatologist whose temperature reconstructions are prominent in IPCC reports. Bradley and Michael Mann, an equally famous climate scientist, were embroiled in a vicious climate change doubters’ assault based on their “Hockey Stick” graph. This graph clearly (too clearly, I guess) shows the relationship between industrialization, fossil fuel use, and global temperature increases. Incensed, Bradley detailed the harassment—demands for huge amounts of data, accusations about statements in emails between scientists, appearances before congressional committees, and so on.
After Bradley finished his presentation, I sat in the auditorium and watched this smart, generous man field questions from a dozen people crowding around him on stage. He’d devoted his professional life to trying to make sense of the global climate and now was accused of lying about his data by powerful politicians backed by big oil. I desperately wanted to “do something”. But what?
The idea [for the novel] just popped into my head. Many fiction writers have used novels to promote social change. Why couldn’t I? No matter that I had no experience whatsoever writing fiction. I could learn. I decided on mysteries because I love the genre and could envisage a story featuring climate change researchers hounded by climate change doubters.


My family and I live in Lynchburg, VA, in the Blue Ridge Mountains. I am an avid reader of cozy mysteries for relaxation and enjoy attending Malice Domestic when I have the chance. My reading interests have widened in the last few years.

The agency is a boutique agency, where we primarily represent Romances and Cozy Mysteries

One of my favorite things to do is attend writers' conferences. In addition to networking with other agent and editors, I try to meet with any of my authors who might live in the area, as well as meet new authors.

Always a lot of fun!

Literary Agent Interview: Dawn Dowdle of Blue Ridge Literary Agency

“Agent Advice” (this installment featuring agent Dawn Dowdle of Blue Ridge Literary Agency) is a series of quick interviews with literary agents and script agents who talk with Guide to Literary Agents about their thoughts on writing, publishing, and just about anything else. This series has more than 170 interviews so far with reps from great literary agencies. This collection of interviews is a great place to start if you are just starting your research on literary agencies.
This installment features Dawn Dowdle of Blue Ridge Literary Agency. A freelance copyeditor, Dawn reviewed mysteries for years before starting Blue Ridge Literary Agency in January 2009. She lives in Lynchburg, Va., where she also facilitates a local writers’ group and is very active in her church. Although she read mysteries for fun, she handles most types of fiction and children’s fiction. She also blogs and Tweets.
(Hate writing synopses? Here are nuts & bolts pointers for you.)
She is seeking: mysteries, cozy mysteries, thrillers, urban fantasy, romance (no erotica), sci-fi, women’s, general, historical, Christian, young adult, middle-grade, and young readers. She does not seek: poetry, scripts, short stories, children’s picture books, memoirs, nonfiction, or screenplays.

GLA: How and why did you become an agent?
DD: I was a freelance editor and ran a mystery website promoting mystery books for authors. I like helping authors. One of my friends had me edit her manuscript. I really enjoyed it. She queried it to agents. One day she complained about the agent’s response—a small piece of paper with her manuscript’s title written incorrectly—and how queries always have to be so perfect to agents. She said, “I wish I could just do this myself.” So I started wondering what it would take to be a literary agent.
I have learned most tasks on the job throughout my life, so I started investigating being a literary agent. I decided to start an agency in January 2009 and began making contacts. Now I have mentors as well as 2 interns and a Rights Director affiliated with my agency. I represent approximately 80 manuscripts and have approximately 30 of those under contract with publishers. [Recently,] The Armageddon Chord by Jeremy Wagner, published by kNight Romance Publishing, became a best seller on It was rated #6 in sales!
(Should you mention your age in a query letter?)
GLA: What’s something you’ve sold that comes out now/soon that you’re excited about?
DD: Paradise 21 by Aubrie Dionne came out August 5. I am very excited about this science fiction romance. When she queried me, I read the synopsis and was confused. I decided to read a few pages to see if the writing was good. I read every page of the three chapters she sent and wanted to know more. I immediately contacted her to offer representation. She is my first author signed with Entangled Publishing, a newer publisher. I’m very excited about this new publisher and this first book in her new series. There are two more books publishing in this series, Tundra 37 publishes in December and Haven 6 in April.
GLA: Besides “good writing,” and “voice,” what are you looking for right now and not getting? What do you pray for when tackling the slush pile?
DD: I’m always looking for a well-written cozy mystery. These are what I read for fun, so I’m always looking to work with writers of cozies. I’m also on the lookout for a good edge-of-your-seat thriller. I am always looking for a good romance. I work with many subgenres of romances: contemporary, historical, paranormal, suspense. I’d also love to get a steampunk.

The biggest literary agent database anywhere
is the Guide to Literary Agents. Pick up the
most recent updated edition online at a discount.

GLA: On the flip side of that, what are you tired of seeing? Any specific topics or subgenres?
DD: Vampires, science fiction, thrillers that aren’t thrilling and historicals.
GLA: You run a writers’ group in Lynchburg, Va. Tell us a little bit about it (i.e., What does the group do, what was your purpose in creating it, is it made up of your clients, etc.).
DD: I do have a few clients in the group, but it is made up of anyone in the area who likes to write. We actually have two groups now. I only attend one, as I don’t have much time. We do a lot of critiquing and encouraging. We have a “book social” release party when one of our authors publishes their book.
GLA: What are 2-3 of your biggest chapter one no-nos? What makes you stop reading?
DD: Too much backstory or description. Not getting the story going. We do need to know something about the characters, but we also need to get invested in the story quickly. Catch my attention!
(Learn about pitching your novel to an agent at a writers’ conference.)
GLA: You require writers to include a marketing plan when they query you. What do you like to see here?
DD: I’m looking for the types of plans the author has to promote their book. It’s a tough business. Promotion is what will help your sales. Books no longer sell themselves. Authors can’t just write. If you’re not willing to promote your work, most publishers aren’t interested. I’m trying to find this out sooner.
GLA: Going one further, what should all new writers be doing—even before they snag an agent and/or sell?
DD: Get your name out there. Be on Facebook, blog, participate in online discussions. You need a platform to attract a publisher.
GLA: Will you be at any upcoming writers’ conferences where writers can meet and pitch you?
DD: None right now, but I did just attend The Write-Brained Network’s “One-Stop Workshop for the Serious Writer” in Harrisonburg, Va., Saturday, Sept. 2011.
GLA: What is something personal about you writers would be surprised to hear?
DD: I met my husband through a phone ad I placed 25 years ago (long before the Internet). We were engaged 6 weeks later and married 4 ½ months after meeting!
GLA: Best piece(s) of advice we haven’t talked about yet?
DD: Spell-check your query. Follow all directions for queries.

On April 1, 2015 Charlene wrote on Google:
I'd love some help identifying likely publishers for my amateur sleuth mystery "Death in a Hot Sea". The protagonist is an oceanographer and underlying themes are climate change deniers and the nature of climate research. It's a traditional mystery format. I've just signed a contract with a literary agent who will be pitching the book to publishers.
Thanks a lot, Charlene
On May 2 she wrote:
Friends: I very much enjoy Mary's interviews with women working in nature and the arts.(Thank you!) It appears that most adult novels referred to here are not published by well known presses. I wonder how that impacts the audience these authors reach.
For my own mystery, "Death in a Hot Sea" (which features an oceanographer harassed by climate change doubters), I've decided to go the traditional route. I have an agent now, and we'll see if she's able to find a publisher. [SHE DID!] I was a marine ecologist and college professor for over 40 years, but learning the craft of eco-fiction is by far the hardest thing I've every tried to do.

Joe said:
The main advantage of traditional publishing over independent publishing is three-fold, in my view: print distribution, reviews, and brand. Traditional publishers have better access to print distribution networks, i.e., bookstores. Trads also develop contacts with reviewers who have large audiences in major media, e.g., New York Times. Trads with well-known brands, such as Penguin Random House, may be perceived by readers as offering higher-quality material. It's a kind of endorsement. IMHO, small presses may be weaker in these areas, but it varies from press to press.

Some of these factors also affect ebooks. The main problem in the electronic market is getting heard above the noise. It's hard for readers to find you. Reviewers are harder to find, and if you're not an author with a well-known brand, people won't buy as readily. The content has to be extremely compelling to compensate.

I'm curious how you found your agent. Query? Personal contact?
CHARLENE replied to Joe:
Thanks for these insights Joe - these are many of the reasons I decided to try to go with traditional publishing. It does take a whole lot longer than self publishing though.

I found my agent through regular querying. I belong to "Sisters in Crime" a terrific national group (with a great sense of humor) and through them, "agent quest". We critique each others queries, synopses, etc. and basically offer support in the absurdly difficult job of getting an agent and/or publisher.

In addition to what you've mentioned, going through all this has resulted in a much better book since I rewrite, rewrite, rewrite based on comments.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

''Cli-fi'' = ''Climate Literature Interface'' + ''Fictional Interplay''

''Cli-fi'' = ''Climate Literature Interface'' + ''Fictional Interplay''

Invited to an Asian 'cli-fi' conference on ''Micro-blogging and Journalism''



Dear Mr Bloom of the Cli Fi Report -
I am writing about a symposium we  are organizing in Asia with my colleagues from the University, and we would like to invited you to attend -- all expenses paid.  The theme for the event is ''Microblogging and Journalism in Asia nations.''  Several people from Micro-Nesia will also attend. It it will be held at the University there.

There will be about 20 invitation-only participants from free and democratic Taiwan where freedom of the presss is important, ......from Communist and media-controlled China,....... and from semi-controlled now by Communist China SAR of Hong Kong .....and 2 from New Zealand and the Philippines.
We wanted to ask you, Dan,  if you would like to attend as a participant given your active social media profile and journalism background. Also environmental media will be a theme as we plan to getting some environmental journalist from Commie China also.

If you available to do this, all flights will be paid for by the council and 1 night accommodation. You will be looked after by staff from the University and would stay at the University dorm.   You could stay longer of course on your own time.


How to Work with Media For Cli-Fi Coverage

Getting Cli-Fi Media Coverage That Moves Readers FROM: THE CLI FI REPORT, DO: Tell stories – successes, about real people who are _____. Cut your issue with a hook – local, timely and attention getting. DON’T: Use technical program names or acronyms (ICM, NOAA, IPCC, OCS, or toss off large dollar figures (“the XYA commission says that for US$4 billion a year…”) MOST IMPORTANT TIP (from Tip): The first rule of politics, according to the late Speaker of the House of Representatives, Tip O’Neil, applies to media coverage too – “If you don’t ask, you don’t get.” 1. What are the different kinds of media, and media coverage? Print: News story, Feature story, Column, Editorial, Op-ed piece, Letter to the editor Television News Story, feature piece, kicker (human/animal interest) Radio News, feature, talk-radio with guests (phone or in studio) Specialized Press – Sea Technology, diving, surfing, fishing, boating magazines TIP: Try. Ask. Don’t fear failure when dealing with the media. No one gets coverage every time they try. Even if they don’t do your story, ask why they didn’t and how they might. You’ll get to know more media folks, how they think, and what they might cover in the future. TIP: Follow the media with an eye to using it. When you see a story on your issue, or a related one, notice who the reporter is. They may cover your issue on a regular basis, or have a particular interest in it. Send them your next press release, in addition to sending it to the assignment desk, and call them. The same is true for columns, and even editorials. Call and find out who wrote the editorial on your issue. TIP: Positive reinforcement helps. Write a ''letter to the editor'' praising a good story on your issue, and the writer. Letters to the editor are coverage too – and the third most read part of a paper. TIP: Remember editorials (the position of the newspaper) and “op ed” (the page across from the editorial page) pieces. Be bold – when you see an editorial on your issue area, call the paper, get the Editorial Department, and find out who wrote the editorial. Ask to speak to them. Tell them the issue you’d like the paper to endorse. Make it timely. Remember, if you don’t ask, you don’t get. 2. Importance of story – clients, actual projects – and the “hook”. TIP: People are more interesting than facts and figures. Portray your issue through their stories. But… TIP: Stories usually aren’t enough by themselves. You need a hook – something that makes the story timely. TIP: Different stories may lead to different reporters. A vote in Congress may lead to a conversation with a paper’s DC reporter. 3. How do we get media coverage? TIP: Try to get media coverage. It usually doesn’t come on its own. TIP: Make relations with and responsiveness to media people a priority. ALWAYS make the reporter or writer’s job easier for them. TIP: Gather interesting success stories. TIP: Develop and maintain a personal relationship with a reporter or an editor. There are only a handful of reporters well versed on literature issues and covering them on a regular basis: Help your reporter get the cli fi ‘stoke.’ TIP: Sometimes, no matter what you do, you won’t get coverage. If there’s a train wreck in the town next door, or Donald Trump says something particularly news worthy, those stories may crowd you out, no matter how good your story is. TIP: “Day of” coverage, especially in the morning paper, has extra power – to spur more turn out for an action, to raise the spirits of your members. TIP: ALWAYS send a letter to the editor after you get a story or an editorial, especially if you can be positive. It’s additional, free coverage. CC the writer of your piece. 4. Press releases TO WHOM: Specific reporters/writers, assignments editor/city desk. CONTENT: Who, what, when, why, where; contact people. Keep to one page. No kidding, keep to one page. They get lots of them. If they’re interested, they’ll ask for more information. GOAL: Reasonable minimum – one all news radio station, one paper, one TV station. The media can be like schooling fish – news radio and the morning paper often define what’s the ‘news’ for the day (especially for local TV). KEY: Follow up calls the day before and the day of. Then more follow up calls. Ask for a reporter you know, ask for the assignment desk, ask what time they arrive on the day of your event. Call, call, call, resend your release again and again. Be available all day long. Have your leaders/story tellers/experts available all day long. THE EVENT: Plan an event – The event, location and/or target should help to make it more newsworthy, and tell your story better. 5. The goal—an ideal, advocacy-oriented connection with the media Having a respected and respectful relationship. Getting your calls returned and your stories considered. Becoming the source of story ideas for key reporters and editors. Being an “authority” on your issue – getting quoted in other people’s stories, appearing on talk shows, etc.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

ASU professor Ed Finn on the value of the cli-fi genre as AGW ramps up

Ed Finn writes (slightly edited for clarification and amplification): The trouble with climate change is that it’s too slow: a creeping disaster causing incremental changes to our lives one year at a time. It moves so slowly, in fact, that by the time the forecast for destruction proves correct (years or decades after it was made), we’ve already turned off the news. As a topic, a debate, and a modern theological schism, climate change seems to be washed up in popular imagination even as the ice melts, the forest fires rage, and the drought deepens. Occasionally we’re confronted with stark reminders of its power, like images documenting the retreat of glaciers or starving polar bears, but because the political trench war over climate change has been going on for so long, we can barely move beyond hopelessness to muster some pity. It is, as Al Gore put it, an inconvenient truth, but the title backfired on him — the truth proved so difficult to contend with that we work harder and harder to ignore it. We are so immersed in the slow boil of climate change that we’ve lost sight of it completely, and we need to escape lived reality before we can even learn to see it. A jetpack, a flying car, a TARDIS… We need better stories about the future to talk sensibly about the present. It turns out we need the unreality of fiction to understand reality. Cli-fi, speculative fiction, —  call it what you will -- it all runs on the same biofuel of imagination. So what can cli-fi teach us about climate change? It can take numbing debates over pollution PPM and acre-feet of water and put them into gripping, visceral context. Consider how different today’s policy disputes over California’s drought are from Paolo Bacigalupi’s description of life in a near-future Phoenix in ''The Water Knife'':
''Here, close to the relief pump, here was life: bonfires burning two-by-fours hacked from the husked-out corpses of five-bedroom houses. The tents of the Red Cross, swaybacked with the recent storm’s accumulated dust. Doctors and volunteers wearing filter masks against the dusk and valley fever fungus, tending to refugees lying on cots, and crouching over infants with cracked sandy lips as they took saline drips into their hollowed bodies.''
OK, so it’s not exactly a blueprint for a better tomorrow. But it beats endless discussion about lawn-watering, rate hikes, lawsuits, and the threat posed by the California almond industry. Bacigalupi puts you there, in one possible world spinning forward from our own like fragments of a bomb that is, we can now see, just going off in the present. It is a window into a place that might be, that can be logically extrapolated from our own. As you read, the initial shock of strangeness gives way to the creeping recognition that this hellscape is not so distant from our own lives. Not distant at all: separated from the life my family lives in Phoenix only by the turn of a tap that brings us water in the desert, whenever we want. Cli-fi drops us into worlds that are both familiar and ominous, an experience that some scholars call ''cognitive estrangement.'' The power of cli-fi is not to terrify us about the future, but to show us what it might look like to literally inhabit our ideas. We read stories where human characters grapple with our shared, eternal problems  —  survival, love, identity, purpose, etc. —  but they do so in the constraints of structures that are just outlines for us. Cli-fi is not a crystal ball; it’s a mirror, showing us the world we live in projected into a fresh, imaginary space. This is especially important in the context of climate change and novels in the cli-fi genre, where environmental changes that are inevitable and social adaptations that seem impossible are headed for spectacular collision. Cli-fi allows us to kill our darlings, as the writers say, and road-test our assumptions. Using the imagination laboratory between our ears, we can hypothesize about ditching political sacred cows and cultural mores that otherwise seem as inescapable as gravity. Margaret Atwood’s ''MaddAddam'' trilogy gleefully pokes capitalism and religion in the eye along the way to her true target: the facile lullabies we sing to ourselves as we ignore our lives crumbling around us. The power of cli-fi to turn abstractions into hard-edged objects and place them in the paths of real, complicated, contradictory humans is more than just good entertainment or a writer’s parlor trick. It is a practice of imagination, asking readers to do the heavy lifting of bringing these futures to life in our own minds. Because we take on that labor, we practice imagination as much as the writers do  —  so so cli-fi is a contagious form of imaginative thinking. That kind of thinking is exactly what we need to solve the wicked problems of climate change. The standard models of progress have failed us, and we desperately need more creative and inclusive ideas. As long as climate change is the exclusive domain of technical expertise, policy discussions, and political grandstanding, it will fail to mobilize the kind of broad, deep engagement you need to change the world. As a colleague at the Imagination and Climate Futures Initiative at Arizona State University has shown, the diplomats and political leaders debating responses to climate change are suffering from a serious imagination deficit. Imagination is what cli-fi has to offer in the conversation about climate change. It’s not that climate change is a figment of a possible future, but that its deep infiltration of the present is so vast and slow that we need to see it through fiction. Bruce Sterling called it “a melancholy and tiresome reality,” and when Atwood inaugurated the Imagination and Climate Futures Initiative in November of 2014 she called it “the Everything Change.” Perhaps the single best tool we have to combat wicked problems and complex systems is narrative — the ambiguity, complexity, and specificity of stories that can capture an entire era through the eye, and the heart, of a single character or a group of characters. And, yes, I’ll say it: we also need more optimism. Cli-fi should not only be about the things that can’t and shouldn’t happen. We have to imagine better tomorrows in order to change our reality today. We need stories that make sense of climate change and chart a path to action, helping us to see the challenges clearly but also begin envisioning our answers to those challenges. We need infectious, thrilling, scientifically grounded stories about what might be — stories that invite all of us to see the world as it is and make it a better place than we found it.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Margaret Atwood leads #clifi charge at's new 'cli-fi' package

Margaret Atwood leads charge at 's new 'cli-fi' package with over 12 writers on view