Friday, November 20, 2015

''Cli-fi'' themes in literature and cinema before 2010


Owing to the increasing scientific consensus that our energy-intensive technological civilization is measurably and in all likelihood irreversibly affecting Earth's climate, a new standalone, independent genre called " Cli-Fi" has caught on worldwide in consideration that climate change and man-nade global warming are important themes for this 21st Century.

Earlier examples of pre-Cli-Fi novels:

 Brish writer J G Ballard's moody The Drowned World (January 1962 Science Fiction Adventures; exp 1962) – a significant influence on the iconography of later climate-change scenarios – ascribes increasing heat, rising sea levels and the drowning of London to persistent solar flares.

In Gerald Heard's "The President of the United States, Detective" (March 1947 Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine) as by H F Heard, a Chinese plot to melt the Arctic tundra, raise sea levels and drown portions of the West is countered by the US President (a Scientist), whose atom-bombing of Greenland's and Antarctica's ice-fields will both reclaim these continents for Western use and inundate much of China.

James Blish's "We All Die Naked" (in Three for Tomorrow, anth 1969, ed Robert Silverberg), though sharply satirical in tone, describes the whole now-familiar litany of human-caused increase in carbon dioxide levels, the resulting greenhouse-effect heating, the melting of the polar icecaps, and rising sea levels that flood New York; canoes ply the streets of this new Venice.

Plausible climate change is central in Dakota James's Greenhouse: It Will Happen in 1997 (1984), whose timescale proved overly pessimistic.

And in George Turner's The Sea and Summer (1987; vt Drowning Towers 1988), with the seas steadily and oppressively rising owing to greenhouse-effect melting of the polar icecaps.

And in John Barnes's Mother of Storms (1994), whose eponymous killer storm is made possible by a sudden, human-triggered increase in atmospheric methane levels.

Bertagna's Exodus (2002) .

Ray Hammond's Extinction (2005).

Some authors adopted contrarian positions. Environmentalists concerned with climate change are portrayed as villains in Fallen Angels (1991) by Larry Niven, Jerry Pournelle and Michael Flynn, where global-warming scenarios are rebutted by the coming of a new ice age. Much the same attitude, bolstered by dubious science and (according to the scientists themselves) misrepresentation of actual work in climate science, pervades Michael Crichton's State of Fear (2004).

A particularly thoughtful examination of Near-Future climate change – including some plausible US Politics – is Kim Stanley Robinson's Science in the Capitol trilogy, comprising Forty Signs of Rain (2004), Fifty Degrees Below (2005) and Sixty Days and Counting (2007).

Crises there included the drowning of Washington, District of Columbia, in book one (foreshadowing the 2005 impact of Hurricane Katrina on New Orleans) and the stalling of the Gulf Stream, which is restarted at heroic cost.

The term Anthropocene, denoting the current geological era in which human activities have became a significant factor in global ecosystem change (see Ecology; Gaia), was coined by ecologist Eugene F Stoermer (1934-    ) in the early 1980s and features in such novels as Alastair Reynolds's Blue Remembered Earth (2012) and Kim Stanley Robinson's 2312 (2012).

The pervasiveness of the scientific consensus has spread awareness of climate change as a likely near-future default into cli-fi literary circles.

Examples include Maggie Gee's The Ice People (1998); T Coraghessan Boyle's A Friend of the Earth (2000), offering a vision of related devastation as early as 2025; and Ian McEwan's Solar (2010).

Cinema goes 'cli-fi', too

See more at the ''Cli Fi Movie Awards'' homepage:

The Day After Tomorrow (2004) hyped up global-warming effects, converting steady decline to a rapid-action Disaster scenario.

A.I.: Artificial Intelligence (2001) more plausibly used flooding caused by rising sea levels as a future background rather than the narrative focus.

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