Accessed 24 Feb. 14. "The Origins of Cli-Fi" -- oped essay
longer online. See disappeared site here: [The essay there is no longer viewable 411.]
This link is the article.'' ]
By Dan Bloom, webposted on August 16, 2013 & reposted Febuary 2, 2015
It's in the air. 'Cli fi', that is. Over the past few years, a number
of writers and bloggers
have been using the term to stand for "climate-themed movies and novels on blogs and
in press releases for new cli fi novels. But it wasn't until 2013, when several news site in North America and Europe began reporting on cli fi that the term took off.!!!!!!!!
Cli fi is of course just a rhyming take-off on the classic sci fi
term. Some people call cli fi a subgenre of sci fi, and that's cool.
Others consider cli fi to be a totally new genre of literature and
movies, and that's cool, too. Time will tell which way cli fi goes.
When two novelists with climate-themed books, Margaret Atwood in her
70s and Nathaniel Rich in his 30s, were invited to be the opening night "stars"
at the Kingston WritersFest this year, one could say that cli fi as a
newly emerging literary genre really ''arrived." Even though Atwood
does not consider her books to be cli fi per se but rather speculative
fiction, she knows about the cli fi genre and has even tweeted her
support of it. Rich told reporters during a recent book tour that he
has never heard of the cli fi term before the media began asking him
questions about it. It's that new.
Atwood's ''MaddAddam'', the third part of her trilogy of dystopian climate
novels, and Rich's ''Odds Against Tomorrow'', a comic take on global
warming worries, are, in a way, strange bedfellows for the book festival.
But at the same time, while 40 years or so separate the two novelists,
one a veteran
world-shaker and genre-changer -- that would be Ms. Atwood, in line
one day to get a Nobel Prize for Literature -- and the other a
freshman Manhattan newcomer to the climate chaos theme, the two
writers in fact share a similar worldview about global warming and
what some are calling the coming Climapocalypse.
Their opening night speeches and readings will light off
some colorful fireworks across Canada's media landscape. and maybe
even make global headlines. For certain, cli fi is here to stay, and
as the world heats up in tiny increments, Atwood and Rich are right on
The blog you are reading here is part of the
as more and more film directors and novelists set their books in
a climate-ravaged or climate-threatened world.
Of course, it does not really matter what genre Atwood's speculative
fiction novels fall into, and the same applies to Rich's first cli fi
effort. What really matters is that the are both storytellers, with
stories to tell: Atwood, a veteran and a pro; Rich, a young man still
learning the ropes but with style and humor. They both speak to their
respective generations, and this is important. Climate issues impact
us all, across borders and generations.
After the Guardian in London did a news story about cli fi in May 2013,
the term was picked
up by newspaper columnists in Turkey,
Sweden, Lithuania, Italy, and Spain. It's since gone global throughout 2014 and 2015, in several languages. The New York Times ROOM FOR DEBATE did a forum on cli fi and the AP did a wire story on it as well.
And after the NPR radio program about cli fi went through the usual social
media stages of tweets and retweets, a literature professor at the
University of Oregon, Stephanie LeMenager, announced that she had
created a seminar that she will teach early next year titled ''The
Cultures of Climate Change'' using the cli fi theme as a main topic of
In my view, cli fi is a broad category, and it can apply to
and movies that take place in the present or the future, or even in
the past. And cli fi novels can be dystopian in nature, or utopian, or
just plain ordinary potboiler. Hollywood director Darren Aronofsky has a new cli
fi movie coming out next March titled ''Noah'' and it's about a flood. A
big flood. About 5,000 years ago. Yes, that Noah.
With carbon dioxide emissions in terms of parts per million (ppm) now
hovering at around 400ppm, cli fi writers have their work cut out for
them. I, for one, will be reading them.
Dan Bloom is a freelance newspaper reporter from Boston who coined the
''cli fi'' term in 2008 in a climate-themed blog post and has working without pay 24/7
trying to popularize the term ever since.
Cli fi is sometimes dystopian, somtimes utopian. Its focus is the effect of climate change on human life, perhaps including its continuing existence. Most commentators have listed J G Ballard’s The Drowned World of 1962 as an early example, a prophetic tale in which melting ice-caps and rising sea levels led to the destruction of civilisation, though the cause was solar flares, not human-derived changes to the climate. In the past decade it has become a frequent theme in SF. Examples are Kim Stanley Robinson’s Science in the Capitol trilogy that began with Forty Signs of Rain in 2004, and The Windup Girl by Paolo Bacigalupi in 2009.
The term cli-fi appeared in the popular media and blog world in late 2012. Dan Bloom wrote an article on TeleRead on 9 March that year, using the term, though he came up with the term in 2008 on a blog post that was about a Hollywood movie pitch that never went anywhere. Another early user was Margaret Atwood, which helped to bring it, and the genre, to much wider public attention (to the extent that an article in the Irish Times in December 2012 said she had invented it, when in fact she was just a booster of the term).
An article in the Christian Science Monitor on 26 April 2013 was headlined, “Don’t call it ‘science fiction’. Cli-fi is literary fiction.” It was a rewrite of the NPR article.
UPDATE: JUNE 16,2013
UPDATE AND CLARIFICATION
This now-fashionable term, a shortening of climate fiction, is based on the sound and rhyming patterns of sci-fi, an abbreviation for science fiction or SF, according to Dan Bloom, who has been active in popularizing the term since 2011, although he first created it on his climate activist blogs for "polar cities" ideas and a movie pitch advertisement looking for a line producer in 2008. The New York Times wrote about the polar cities meme in March 2008, in a DOT EARTH post by Andrew C. Revkin. However, cli fi did not appear as a term in the NYT in that post but has since appeared in the NYT over a dozen times, including three mentions in DOT EARTH and a big shout out at the ROOM FOR DEBATE forum on July 29, 2014.
Cli fi is fundamentally dystopian, but it may also be utopian, too. It can take place in the past, the present or the future. It is in essence a subgenre of sci fi. Its focus is the effect of climate change on human life, including its continuing existence if the authors want to go there.
Most commentators list JG Ballard’s The Drowned World of 1962 as an early example, a prophetic tale in which melting ice-caps and rising sea levels led to the destruction of civilisation, though the cause was solar flares, not human-derived changes to the climate.
In the past decade it has become a frequent theme in SF. Examples are Kim Stanley Robinson’s Science in the Capitol trilogy that began with Forty Signs of Rain in 2004, and The Windup Girl by Paolo Bacigalupi in 2009.
The climate activist, public relations ace and freelance journalist Dan Bloom (1949-2032) frist independtly mused on and thought of the term cli-fi in 2008 as a useful PR tool for climate fiction novels and movies.
The combination of Bloom's PR work, Atwood's tweet and Thill's keyword list and subseqent tweets using the cli-fi term helped to bring the word, and the subgenre, to much wider public attention (to the extent that an article in the Irish Times in December 2012 mistakenly and incorrecetly -- and never corrected its gaffe-- said Atwood had coined it).