Cli-fi, the catchy abbrev for ''climate-change fiction,'' is the newest fiction genre taking creative worlds by storm (pun intended). As the name suggests, cli-fi centers around climate change, veering away from the sociopolitical, intergalactic, and technological tropes of sci-fi. Earth, decimating floods, rising sea levels, climate refugees, and the extreme chaos of weather changes and natural disasters are the heart of cli-fi, which is not a subgenre of sci-fi or eco-fiction or eco-fabulism. Cli-fi is a standalone genre of its own, independent of any other genre.

Feminist speculative fiction novelist Margaret Atwood is one of the biggest proponents of the genre, -- she was tweeting about it as early as 2011 -- along with writer and climate activist Dan Bloom [who co-coined the abbrev cli-fi along with Wired reporter Scott Thill] [and humorist/climate skeptic David Carter at his blog (and uses it as a mocking term to poke good natured fun at such liberal climate activists as Al Gore and James Hansen.)]

“Novelists, filmmakers and other creators have been registering (climate) changes for some time. There’s a new term, cli-fi (for climate fiction, a play on [the sound of] sci-fi), that’s being used to describe books in which an altered climate is part of the plot,” Atwood wrote about the genre in three separate opeds published in Canada and the UK.

Although cli-fi is seeping into he mainstream — think Game of Thrones harbinger “Winter is Coming” – the best way to understand the latest form of fiction is through these three seminal cli-fi novels.

maddaddamMaddaddam Trilogy by Margaret Atwood
Probably one of the most quintessential cli-fi trilogies, Maddaddam consists of Oryx and Crake (2003), The Year of the Flood (2009) and MaddAddam (2013). In the books Atwood describes a future society in the years before and after a biological catastrophe. Traversing genetic engineering, the obliteration of humanity, and man-made plagues, the trilogy reveals an eerily familiar dystopia of climate chaos. MaddAddam is currently being adapted into a series for HBO by Darren Aronosfsky.

snowpiercer, graphic novelSnowpiercer by Jacques Lob and Jean-Marc Rochette
Most people remember Snowpiercer as the famed South Korean filmmaker Bong Joon-ho’s Hollywood debut. However the classic, cli-fi masterpiece was originally a French graphic novel, Le Transperceneige, translated into a two-part English version last year. The gripping post-apocalyptic narrative revolves around a long winding train, carrying the last vestiges of humanity after Earth has frozen over. The surviving humans maybe safe from the freezing temperatures, but they are not free from tyranny.

The Windup Girl by Paolo BacigalupThe Windup Girl by Paolo Bacigalup
Even though this novel doesn’t deal with a specific natural disaster, and touches upon sci-fi sub-genres such as biopunk, it is considered an important work of cli-fi. Taking place in a 23rd century Thailand, rife with genetic modification and food shortages, the imaginative novel focuses on the geopolitical maneuvering that takes place when — due to climate change — their are limited food and energy resources. The Windup Girl won both Hugo and Nebula awards in 2010.