Sunday, August 16, 2015

Cli-Fi Country Reports (Australia) -- part 12 in global series of country reports

QUICK: Find ''Australia'' on the map!
The genre of ''cli-fi,'' whether you
believe in it or not, is about more
than natural disasters and a sense
of impending doom.

So writes Australian author ADAM FORD, in a recent essay titled:

''It’s The End Of The World
As We Know It (And I Don’t Feel So Fine) ''
in Australia among Australian novelists and literary critics
is behind a paywall here, and you can only access the full article
with a credit card and a small one-time payment. Academic researchers and Australian media workers will most surely have read Ford's piece already, as well his fellow Australian novelists and literary critics. However, just
to tease out his article a bit for general readers around the world, here are some snippets and brief excerpts from the full text.


Ford gets right to the point: "If you’ve been paying attention to
publishing trends you may have come across
the name of a new(ish) genre that’s been
generating buzz of late. That name is “cli-fi."

The term became a ''buzzword'' around 2014, Ford says.
What is cli-fi? Ford quotes one pundit as saying that it's “a way to wake up people who are still
sleepwalking towards the Climapocalypse”.

However, Ford cautions, "a strict definition of cli-fi can be elusive."
Good point.

"In Australia, the cli-fi finger has been pointed at a
number of authors," Ford adds, citing Jane Rawson’s ''A Wrong Turn at the
Office of Unmade Lists'' as ''a surreal urban fantasy partly
set in a dystopian, tropical future Melbourne.''
He also includes Ellen van
Neerven’s short fiction collection ''Heat and Light'' which features
‘'Water'’, a speculative fiction novella about Australian
water management policy that interweaves climate change
and Indigenous sacred stories.

And don't forget Australian novelist James Bradley’s ''Clade'' Ford counsels readers, which ''follows a family through three
generations from near to distant future as they face an
increasingly dramatic cascade of natural disasters that
reshape the face of both the planet and human civilisation.''

There's also Alice Robinson’s ''Anchor Point''
Katherine Heyman’s ''Floodline'.'
Ford asks a good question: ''Could
it be that climate change is just the latest in a long and
fruitful line of end-of-the-world-as-we-know-it scenarios?''

''Perhaps not," Ford says, "this latest trend feels like it’s tapping into
something more than an appetite for dystopia."

Publishing trends are an attempt to capture the
''zeitgeist," Ford notes, a German term meaning who knows what.

The big question Ford asks is this: "So which will cli-fi engender? ''
''An army of authors
lumped together under the cli-fi banner while
simultaneously denying its existence? ''
''Or a generation
of aspiring authors working melting ice caps, carbon
sequestration and species loss into romances and
coming-of-age stories?''

Ellen van Neerven, author of ''Heat and Light,'' told Ford
that cli-fi can be potent in the Australian context.
live in the driest continent,” she told Ford. “The changes in
our climate have such great public awareness now. People
reading and writing about it is an extension of this.”

''Being designated “cli-fi” has perplexed and bemused
some Australian authors
, while coming as no surprise
to others," the
Chewton, Central Victoria novelist writes.

“I like it,” van Neerven told Ford. “It’s helpful to have a term
to group these works — I keep discovering other titles to

''Whatever the limitations and implications of cli-fi
and its definition, it’s hard to deny that [many Australian]authors
are tuning into something," Ford says.

In an oped that Alice Robinson’s wrote for ArtsHub, she agreed about
cli-fi’s political limitations, although she said she is hopeful that
“depicting imagined climatically altered futures might
help prepare us, at least emotionally if not literally, for
what comes next”.

Ellen van Neerven also sees cli-fi as a tool for thought
and inspiration.
But any discussion about what
cli-fi is can easily — and perhaps should — become
a conversation about what the emergence of the term
signifies in a broader sense. And with this last snippet, this blog will leave you to try to find the full text online at LINK and read at your leisure.

TAKE HOME MESSAGE: "Although it may not be a massive driver of change,
perhaps what cli-fi can do is help us articulate and
understand our common concerns in a way that encourages
us to find out more, look for ways to take action
, and start
building the connections that will hold us together in the
face of what is coming,"opines Adam Ford.
AUTHOR ID: Adam Ford is a writer from Chewton, in Central Victoria. He
is the author of the novel ''Man Bites Dog,'' among other books.
Tagged with key words: , , J, , , Dan Bloom, Scott Thill, Paco Enterprises, David Carter, Niall Harrison, Adam Ford, Alison Flood, Jason Steger

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