by Anonymous Literary Critic
British sci fi writer JG Ballard wrote forcefully of our blue marble, riven by heat, in The Burning World in 1964, and by floods in The Drowned World in 1962, although his work was never published or written or received as cli-fi at the time.
Of more recent vintage is sci fi novelist Kim Stanley Robinson’s Science in the Capital trilogy, launched in 2004 with Forty Signs of Rain, which was also written, published and marketed as sci fi at the time, and was never considered cli-fi at the time of publication by eithter critics or readers or his PR people.
Both Ballard and Robinson belonged to a group of sci-fi writers who took climate change seriously, but they had nothing to do with giving birth the new and separate genre of cli-fi.
AGW also has drawn the attention of mainstream literary figures, such as Canadian wunderkind Margaret Atwood, who penned her own well-received trilogy, MaddAddam, which was written, published and received by critics and readers as ''speculative fiction'' at the time of its publication (and even now) and was never published or considered as cli-fi. She is not a cli-fi novelist. She has always been writing in the speculative fiction genre.
American novelist Barbara Kingsolver wrote about AGW in Flight Behaviour in 2012, a powerful novel that was published as ''literary fiction'' and never written, published, received or marketed as cli-fi.
New novels embracing cli-fi are said to be in the pipeline, but not one major novel has so far been conceived, written, published or marketed as cli-fi. Not even Nathaniel Rich's ODDS AGAINST TOMORROW in 2013.
Most cli-fi novels in the publishing pipeplines will likely be dystopian, which is understandable since it does not make sense to write about how wonderful the climate is and how everything is coming up roses as AGW prepares to do a Climapocalypse on humankind. Some, however, will be utopian in nature, and that's important, too. And some will even be what Margaret Atwood as dubbed as "ustopian" -- novels that are both Utopian + STOPIAN.
One of the themes of cli-fi novels in the future will be survival. Other themes will be finding solutions to climate change issues, and sending messages, via the printed page, to future generations. Some messages will be dystopian in nature, while others will be utopian. Novelists themselves will follow their own moral imperatives to say what they want to say or feel compelled to say.
Futrure cli-fi novelists, when and if they appear, perhaps within the next ten years or so and only if they conciously write, publish and market themselves as distinctly cli-fi novelists (and so far none have done so), will find ample fodder for grim themes in news cycles that churn out daunting climate reports 24/7.
As someone who has not comitted yet to write a cli fi novel but who hopes to do so in the next ten years of my writing career, I have to wonder why most of us are unconcerned by a Climapocalypse that could wipe out the human species within the next 30 generations, or by 2500 A.D., to put a general date on it.
Those cli-fi writers who choose to conciously write and publish in the cli-fi genre in the near future need to speak to the world at large, not just America or the UK, with ever more powerful "storytelling."
Good luck, all ye who venture there!
------------- AUTHOR ID:
''Anonymous Literary Critic'' is an anonymous literary critic who has been observing the rise of the cli-fi genre term as a media buzzword, even though not one cli-fi novel has yet been conciosly written, published, marketed or promoted as cli-fi. She originally wrote this piece for her blog. Her thoughts are her own.
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