#AMERICA talking about 'cli-fi' again, Atlantic Mag culture section -- freelanced by J.K. Ullrich - http://www.theatlantic.com/
EXCERPTS: (c) THE ATLANTIC MAGAZINE, J.K. Ullrich
HEADLINE: ''Can Cli-fi Novels and Movies Save the Planet? No, they can't. But food for thought as the Climapocalypse approaches over the next 30 generations of humans, circa 500 years.''
SUBHEAD: A new literary genre that focuses on the consequences of environmental issues is striking a chord with younger generations—and engaging them in thinking about the Earth’s sustainability.
TEXT: ''Since the turn of the millennium, cli-fi has evolved ...into a class of its own. Unlike sci-fi, cli-fi stories do not focus on imaginary technologies or faraway planets. Instead the pivotal themes are all about Earth, examining the impact of pollution, rising sea levels, and global warming on human civilization. And the genre’s growing presence in college curriculums, as well as its ability to bridge science with the humanities and activism, is making environmental issues more accessible to young readers—proving literature to be a surprisingly valuable tool in collective efforts to address global warming.''
“I never defined or even tried to define a new genre,” said Bloom. Instead, he merely wanted to come up with a catchy buzzword to raise awareness about global warming.”
''The strategy worked: When Atwood used the term in a 2012 tweet, she introduced it to her 500,000 followers, now 900.000 followers, according to Bloom. As the notion of cli-fi took hold, publishers and book reviewers began regarding it as a new category.
In this respect, cli-fi is a truly modern literary phenomenon: born as a meme and raised into a distinct genre by the power of social media. Today cli-fi has an actively used hashtag on Twitter, #clifi, [devised by PR maven Lisa Devaney in UK] 2 user-created book lists on Goodreads, and several Facebook cli-fi discusssion groups, including one devoted exclusively to YA cli-fi.''
''But colleges in the U.S. and abroad—from the University of Oregon to Cambridge University’s Institute of Continuing Education—now offer courses in cli-fi. Earlier this year, students in a cli-fi class at Holyoke Community College extracted DNA from strawberries to understand the genetic engineering themes of Bacigalupi’s award-winning novel The Windup Girl (2009).
At Temple University, participants in the cli-fi course used their class blog to share links to science news and cited scientific articles in their book reviews.
This fusion of science and the humanities can have practical consequences, encouraging more serious study of STEM, which can intimidate students. With literature and creative writing as a comfortable gateway, “science would become accessible to students who think they aren’t interested in science,” said Ellen Szabo, the author of Saving the World One Word at a Time: Writing Cli-Fi.
Therein lies the challenge. “Science doesn't tell us what we should do,” Barbara Kingsolver wrote in Flight Behaviour. “It only tells us what is.”
Stories can never be a solution in themselves, but they have the capacity to inspire action, which is perhaps why cli-fi’s appeal among young adult readers holds such promise. As the scientists and leaders of tomorrow, they may be most capable of addressing climate issues where previous generations have failed. Cli-fi, like the science behind it, often presents bleak visions of the future, but within such frightening prophecies lies the real possibility that it’s not too late to steer in a different direction. As Atwood wrote in MaddAddam, “People need such stories, because however dark, a darkness with voices in it is better than a silent void.”
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