Friday, March 6, 2015

'Cli-fi' Down Under

While Australia is often dubbed DOWN UNDER by northerners in Europe and North America, in fact, Australia is NOT Down Under anything, except in the way the industrial Northern world ordered the way maps and globes were created, putting THE GREAT WHITE NORTH on top of the globe in the so-called NORTH, where the GREAT WHITE RACES lived and they then put Australia way down there in the --get this term! -- the antipodes! ANTI PODES! Why anti? Maybe the antipodes are the real podes and Europe and North America are the antipodes? In a more realistic world, a globe of this EARTH might put Australia on the top of the globe and on the top of world maps and Africa too and NZ and India too, and put the beloved GREAT WHITE NORTH at the bottom of such an inverted globe. Who says Australia is down under? Down under what? BULLSHIT!

That said, and humor is always part of  daily menu here in the semi demi antipodes where this blogger lives on an invisible island -- invisible at least to the rest of the world! -- since we can see ourselves in plain light of day! -- that said, here is some good news about Australian literature.

More and more Australian novelists are embracing the cli-fi genre, either directly as Alice Robinson has in her powerful new cli-fi debut novel titled ANCHOR POINT, or indirectly in James Bradley's equally powerful cli fi novel titled CLADE.

Reviews for both books are appearing worldwide now on websites and blogs, and all you gotta do is Google the titles or check the summaries at Amazon.

With more and more academics in Australia embracing the cli fi meme, and the Marquarie Dictionary naming cli fi one of the key new terms of 2014, cli fi has found a home in Australia, too, with Robinon and Bradley leading the way this year. For sure, there is more to come Down Under, er, Up Above! Look at the world map and globe in a different way once in a while and see reality for what it is. It is not what we always think it is.

As Borges said, this ALL might just be ONE BIG DREAM that some diety from Asteroid Az101556 is dreaming, and when SHE wakes up, we will all be gone. Like that! In an instant! PUT THAT IN YOUR PIPE AND SMOKE IT.

But for now, know that cli fi is the next cab off the rank, as book critic Jason Steger put it in the Sydney Morning Herald recently.

NOTE: While some book blog reviewers and newspaper critics have put James Bradley's novel CLADE in the sci fi camp, if you look at the book and read for what it is, IT IS NOT sci fi at all.

As one reviewer in the so-called NORTHERN part of the globe wrote in his very good review of the novel: "Clade is science fiction, but it doesn’t feature any spaceships, aliens, or malevolent robots. Clade’s technology is believable advances of gadgets we’re already used to."

So then, if there are no ''spaceships, aliens, or malevolent robots'' and the technology in the novel is in fact just ''very believable advances of gadgets we’re already used to,'' then why label his novel as sci fi? It is not sci fi at all.

Just because a novel or movie takes place in the future does not mean it is sci fi. To be sci fi, a novel must have spaceships, aliens, malevolent robots, clocks that strike 13 and wormholes to Earth-like planets. Stuff like that. ''Clade'' has none of that. ''Clade'' is about humankind's future in relationship to climate change and global warming. It is a very well written and crafted cli fi novel. Period.

It's true, ''sci-fi fans get excited about speculative future technologies and out-there social effects,'' and that's cool. There's a place for sci fi in our lives, for sure. But James Bradley new cli fi novel is not a sci fi novel. It's about people who dwell in the VERY near future, and it's not about spaceships, aliens, or malevolent robots at all. Read it and shelve in your ''cli fi'' rack.

Some reviewers have taken to calling CLADE as sci fi because they cannot think of another term for it. But ther IS a better literary term for it: cli-fi. A cousin of sci fi but in a different leagure entirely.

As for Alice Robinson's ANCHOR POINT, notice nobody is calling it a sci fi novel, even though it also takes place in the future. Even the author herself refers to it as a cli fi novel. James Bradley might soon refer to his novel as a cli fi novel, too, and drop the sci fi tag. But it's up to him, of course.
And in the end, what matters in literature is the STORY, the content of the book, and not the label critics give it. Cli fi, sci fi, schmi-fi --- what matters is the storytelling chops and both Robinson and Bradley have talent up the kazoo when it comes to telling powerful, rivetting stories.

That's what matters.

1 comment:

Steve Salmony said...

The word is spreading and it needs to spread fast.....