Saturday, March 19, 2016

Writing novels and screenplays in the age of the Anthropocene

Writing novels and screenplays

in the age of the Anthropocene

[an oped by a literary critic and novelist in New Zealand]



While I myself personally don’t particularly care for the cli-fi term that has been gaining media traction in literary circles ever since NPR did a radio segment on April 20, 2013 announcing the birth of cli-fi as a new literary genre for the Anthropocene Age,  it's not the only literary genre term I don't care for. But that's just me. If others like the cli-fi term and want to use it, that's cool.


In fact, I must say that in my own personal opionion there are plenty of genre terms I don’t care for or that I find limiting. But as a man who values freedom of expression and creative thought, in all cases I respect the freedom of other people to use them as they see fit. Other people have always respected my right and freedom not to use terms I don't like here in New Zealand and that I don't want to use. t The o use for my particular kind of work.

The same applies for writers and critics in the USA and the UK and in Australia and other English-speaking countries where cli-fi has touched a nerve.
I am who I am. But I retain an oped mind as far as others using the cli-fi term, sure. Just not me. Not my cup of tea. It doesn't float my boat.



Me, I prefer to use as few set terms as possible in labeling discussion of Anthropocene storytelling and fiction itself in this era. But that's just me. Others have their own ideas and their creative spark, so let it be.

I would not want to label recent novels as cli-fi, but at the same time,  neither would I want to exclude them for that term if that is what the authors or the literary critics affirm, because many of these recent cli-fi novels have extremely fascinating and sophisticated things to say about the times we are living in.

This is difficult — thinking about global warming. It is at times depressing, as reports from scientists who have to look directly into the abyss confirm.

So if ''cli-fi'' floats your boat as sea levels rise, go for it. But for me, I am not going to be an early adopter and most probably will never use it myself. Let others use it as they wish.



As cli-fi goes global, novelists and literary critics are adopting the genre term in several non-English languages as well.

[An oped by Dan Bloom]

As cli-fi goes global, novelists and literary critics are adopting the genre term in several non-English languages as well. We are beginning to see the term being used by journalists in Italy, Sweden, Finland, Germany and Spain. Reporters writing in Brazil and Mexico and Norway are using it, too.

Cli-fi has become an international rallying cry now, and literary criticism in the cli-fi vein is staring to appear in Italian, Spanish, Hungarian, Finnish, Swedish, Japanese and Chinese. Just as sci-fi developed first in English and then spread around the world in a variety of languages, the same thing is happening now, slowly, with the rise of cli-fi. It's a good thing, and it's something to watch and observe.

Even scientists sitting down to try their hands at writing a cli-fi novel, and several such novels are due out this year. And in 2017 as well. And not just in English. See the works of Antii Tuomainen and Emmi Itaranti in Finland, Jesper Weithz in Sweden, Bruno Arpaia in Italy and Carlos Calle in Mexico.

As sea levels rise and the world grows warmner over a long period of time, we will be seeing more and more cli-fi novels appearing in non-English speaking countries as well. And this is a good thing. Cli-fi knows no borders, and is borderless. In the Anthropocene, we are one.

And just as Nevil Shute in Australia wrote the novel ON THE BEACH in 1957 about the perils of nuclear war and nuclear winter, with a movie following two years later -- and that book changed the world in its own small way! -- so too will the coming wave of cli-fi novels and movies over the next 100 years change the world and our view of it, too.

Not every novelist will write in the cli-fi vein and that is to be expected. Those who chose to follow the rise of this new genre will be rewarded in their own ways, and those who don't want to follow it are certain to find artistic expression for their novels in other genres. Every novelist has work to do, if they choose to work in the vein of Anthropocene Fiction. If they want to knight their novels as cli-fi books, fine; and if they choose to write in other genres, that's fine, too. What matters is that literature, in all languages, matters. And at this point in human history, it matters all the more.

I'm with cli-fi. But not everyone has to be. In the end, the ''story'' is everything. Tell your story!




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