Saturday, December 31, 2016

'The "Cli-fi" term and how it came to be so popular in the 21st century

OKAY, this is how it happened: the ensemble work of dozens of people"

To begin with, Dan Bloom, a PR guy and climate activist who graduated with a degree in literature from Tufts in 1971, started using the cli-fi term as a PR tool in 2011, coming up informally with the term at that time specifically to promote a new climate-themed novel about ''polar cities'' set in 2075 in Alaska that he had commissioned from Texas sci fi novelist Jim Laughter and which was titled ''Polar City Red.''
To promote the book, Bloom wrote hundreds of press releases and opeds in the New York Times, TeleRead, The Wrap, CliFiBooks website run by Mary Woodbury and the China Post and other media outlets, from blogs to websites, using the term cli-fi to describe Laughter's novel, calling it a "cli-fi thriller". Also in 2011, Canadian novelist Margaret Atwood tweeted a note about Laughter's POLAR CITY RED novel, saying it was a "cli-fi thriller".  Up until that time, late 2011, there had never been a novel published anywhere in the world that referred to itself as a cli-fi novel. Bloom's usage as  PR tool to promote a book he had produced marked the first time the cli-fi term surfaced in literary parlance.
Atwood's tweet in 2011, with Twitter base of over a million followers, attracted a huge response online, with that tweet became so popular that several literary critics and reports attributed the coinage of cli-fi to Atwood, a reporter for the Irish Times in particular.
Then, when POLAR CITY RED was finally published in 2012, Bloom blogged about the book and wrote more opeds about it, again calling it a cli-fi thriller and a cli-fi novel. Judith Curry then did a blog post on her CLIMATE ETC blog that was titled "Cli-Fi" and in that post on Decemeber 23, 2012 she catalogued a long list of so-called cli-fi novels over the years, and one of the books she mentioned was Jim Laughter's POLAR CITY RED and she called it a cli-fi novel, too.
Then, four months later, NPR did a major radio story (and also printed the article online at the NPR website, about the rise of a new genre for these hot times, and NPR called it "cli-fi". That NPR segment and link went viral and attracted the attention of literary critics, novelists and readers (and climate activists) worldwide, and since the NPR story intervewer Nathaniel Rich and Barbara Kingsolver and Judith Curry, mentioned the two novels ODDS AGAINST TOMORROW and FLIGHT BEHAVIOR as cli-fi novels, the cli-fi term entered a new phase of popularity and currency.
5. The rest is literary history.
6. Fast forward to countless articles in the New York Times, the Guardian, The Financial Times, the BBC, The Chronicle of Higher Education, Slate, Salon, TeleRead and The Wrap, among over 100 outlets, both online and in print, and you have the rise of cli-fi brought forward to 2017 and beyond. It's rise was not the work of one person: a large and enthusiastic community of cli-fi writers and readers worked together as a global ensemble to boost the term's fortunes in the literary and media work, including such people as Mary Woodbury [who ran,] Scott Thill, Lisa Devaney, J.L. Morin, Paul Collins, David Rothman, Sarah Holding, David Thorpe, Piers Torday, Rodge Glass, Jason Mark, and dozens of bloggers, oped writers and independent website people.
7. In February 2017, literary critic Amy Brady launched a monthly cli-fi literary column titled ''BURNING WORLDS'' at the Chicago Review of Books which explores trends and novels in the
cli-fi sphere, not just in North America but worldwide as well.

8. And in March 2017, Caren Irr, an English professor at Brandeis, published a long 24 page article in the Oxford Research Encyclopedia on the rise of cli-fi.

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