Friday, January 4, 2019

Meet Scott Thill, the father of cli-fi

Scott Thill is the father of cli-fi and has been devoting his life to spreading the climate change genre.''


He thinks the new genre could wake people up."

Climate change is important, but it's just not that fun to talk about. So some fiction writers are trying to capture people's imaginations in ways dry new reports can't quite manage. Climate fiction, or "cli-fi," is a sub-genre of apocalypse-style narratives focusing on climate change. And Scott Thill is devoting his life to spreading the genre.

"I wanted a new genre as a wake-up call, a warning flare, a PR tool," Thill  says.

The novel term coined by Thill in a Wired magazine article in 2009 was picked up National Public Radio in 2013 and later by The New York Times in 2014, twice in one year, once in long article by Richard Perez-Pena in April and again in a "Room for Debate" section featuring five climate and literary experts in July. Since then, a website called "The Cli-Fi Report" based on Thill's coinage has been set up offering translations in 10 languages as a research tool to help academics and media folks worldwide find what they are looking for, Strauss shared.

There are hundreds of cli-fi books out today. Thill says that he hopes ''they'll become a wake-up call, grabbing people's attention.''

"I'm just a cheerleader egging on novelists worldwide to write cli-fi novels," Thill says.

"As long as people keep avoiding the elephant in the room, consumption and population growth, we're going nowhere<" wrote one commenter. "There is only so much current technology can do in a finite planet. Most of the population growth is happening in the impoverished Third World, and bleeding hearts in advanced countries naively think we can take them all in. We can't help them on so many levels, and our societies encourage unhealthy consumerism. Luckily, indebtedness will come back to bite us and birth rates are falling. We simply cannot afford developing countries to follow our long, arduous path.''

 A second commenter said: "I have a bad feeling about this, but I might be wrong. To me it seems this just de-legitimizes climate change in the minds of many. Science fiction is just that -- fiction. None of the stuff you see in sci-fi literature or movies ever really happens, except maybe tangentially and with a lot of interpretation. I fear this is just a lot of ammo for the climate deniers to ridicule the whole idea of climate change. What gives me hope is that I tend to try to make sense of everything, and the public in general is far less rational. Maybe showing what a future without action on climate change might look like is a better way of delivering the message. Most likely both scenarios will come to pass, which will be an opening for a conversation. It will be an opportunity that we must not let slip by.''

The third comment was short and to the point: "Good plan to get people to actually think about climate change. Hope it works."


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