Friday, June 29, 2018

Climate Horror is the Most important Fiction of our Times, writes David Agranoff

Climate Horror is the Most important Fiction of our Times

An essay by David Agranoff

There was a time in the United States when the threat of nuclear war was so great that school children
ran drills much like fire drills to prepare for an atomic attack. It is hard to express to the young just how
close the human race came to mutual destruction during historical events like the Cuba missile crisis. It
doesn’t seem rational that 2 powerful nations would stockpile so many weapons that they could wipe
out their species many times over but that happened.

During the 1950s and 1960s many works of science fiction and horror were devoted to exploring the “what
if” involved in atomic warfare. Many of these novels including On the Beach by Neil Shute, and Alas
Babylon by Pat Frank are considered classics beyond the genre and are even taught in schools decades
later. These novels serve as warnings and there are many beyond the most known classics, a wide
variety of authors tackled the subject. Poplar films like Dr. Strangelove and Planet of the Apes also
tackled these issues during that era.

It was one thing for scientists or military figures to explain the destructive power of these weapons; it
was a whole other thing to have authors and filmmaker’s explore life after global nuclear conflict. In
1983 this came to head when the most popular TV movie of the year, The Day After, became the water
cooler talk of the nation. It is said that then U.S. President Ronald Regan was so moved by the experience of
watching it and the conversation started that it pushed him to make more serious efforts at

In 2018 we face a similar crisis. Unlike nuclear weapons global climate change is already harming people
and threatens life on a global scale. Beyond the horror faced by two cities in Japan the effect of nuclear
warfare is mostly theory. The horror of global climate change has already begun and like a snowball
going downhill it is gathering strength. The avalanche is coming.

The horror writes itself, speaking as a person who has studied and written about environmental issues
since the mid-1990s I can tell you many writers were trying to warn about global climate change as far
back as the 1980s long before it became the cause of the former U.S. Vice President Al Gore.

The science is there, the temperatures continue to rise along with the global seal levels, species die out,
and the wildfire seasons are almost year round. Climate change denial is more than ideologically
unfortunate, it has become dangerous to future generations. It is something I think about every day, I
wish this crisis was as obvious to people now as it was for the children climbing under desks to drill for
nuclear attacks.

It is easy to convince someone that being shot is a bad thing, but convincing them not to eat cancer
causing food they find delicious is a hard thing. It is the difference from convincing someone that
nuclear war is a threat compared to the slow pace of global climate change. Both are destructive but
one is sneaky. I choose to write an ecological horror novel because there is no issue of greater
importance to our species than maintaining the sustainability of the one and only planet that sustains our lives. There are hundreds of important social issues but without a planet to live on what does it

In my recently released novel Ring of Fire I tried to imagine all the worst case environmental disasters I
could think of and brought them raining down on the city I call home, San Diego. In the novel a massive
wildfire breaks out at the same time that large numbers of people realize they are in a cancer cluster. As
the fire grows to surround the city the people trapped realize that the air they breathe and the water
they drink are not safe. Cut off from a functioning eco-system the people lose their grip on sanity.

Without spoiling the book it goes in a science fiction direction and the cli-fi connections become clear
later in the book. I am a horror writer, and this book is in fact one of my worst nightmares come to life. It is a case of exaggerating to clarify my positions and fears.

Ring of Fire took years of research, and it was one of the hardest novels for me to write, but I was on a
mission. It is a mission I am calling on all writers of speculative and horror fiction to take. We need all hands on deck, every creative mind that can should writing about global climate change. You don’t need to be a genre author, certainly any writer raising children in this world should be thinking about these issues.

Now more than ever genre authors NEED to embrace the sub-genres of CLI-FI and ecological horror.

More importantly, academics and critics need to embrace these works of speculative fiction as worthy
of study and importance. We need a ''Day After'' moment with climate-change fiction when readers
gather around the watercooler to discuss CLI-FI and shudder at the ideas we have brought to them. We
need the novels to become classics so the political leaders in this country feel compelled to read them,
or at least know enough about them that we push the needle.

As fans if we read a good environmental novel we have to spread the word. We don’t want a future
where people fondly look back at the role storytellers played in saving the future. If we don’t want the
ice poles this planet to disappear for the first time since 33 million B.C.E. We don’t want the ultra-violet
rays cooking our children. We don’t want a future where they never know the magic of books. If we let it
happen, then every written word of our civilization will have been for nothing.

If you are a writer, the CLI-FI movement needs you. If you are reader,  CLI-FI is a movement that needs you.

-- David Agranoff
Twitter: @Dagranoffauthor

AUTHOR BIO: David Agranoff is the author of 6 novels and 2 short story collections.

His animal rights and ecologically themed short story collection Screams from a Dying World was nominated for the 2009 Wonderland bizarro fiction award for best collection.

Screams was recently re-issued with 3 new stories by Grand Mal press.

Most his novels have been published by the cult horror publisher Deadite
Press and include The Vegan Revolution…with Zombies, Boot Boys of the Wolf Reich, Flesh Trade (co- written with Edward R. Morris) Punk Rock Ghost Story and the CLI-FI novel Ring of Fire.

Insta: Count.Agranoff



Ring of Fire is available now:

David Agranoff’s Favorite Post-Nuclear war novels:

Swan Song by Robert McCammon
Boy and His Dog by Harlan Ellison
The Long Tomorrow by Leigh Brackett
Alas Babylon by Pat Frank

David Agranoff’s favorite CLI-FI and eco-horror novels:

The Water Knife by Paolo Bacigalupi
The Sheep Look Up by John Brunner
The Bridge by John Skipp and Craig Spector
Demons by John Shirley
The Drowned World by JG Ballard
Southern Reach Trilogy by Jeff Vandermeer
Sea of Rust by C. Robert Cargil
Lost Girl by Adam Nevill
The Road by Cormac McCarthy
Immobility by Brian Evenson

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Will it take awards and honors for 'First Reformed'-- starring Ethan Hawke -- to influence public understanding of and concern for climate change? Is this a cli-fi movie worth remembering?

Listen to film critic Michael Svoboda.

''First Reformed,'' a powerful 'cli-fi' movie by Paul Schrader, unequivocally meets the first criterion for a good ''cli-fi'' movie: it addresses climate change clearly and directly, the Yale Climate Communications columnist says in his review of the film.

Svoboda adds: ''In an important early scene, viewers see, taped to a wall, a chart documenting the increase in average global temperature. On the computer screen of a laptop resting on a desk below the chart, they can see a video looping through a color-coded chronicle of that data mapped over the globe. And then they hear the main character, Pastor Ernst Toller (played by actor Ethan Hawke) discussing the consequences of those rising temperatures – sea-level rise, droughts, heat waves, extreme precipitation events, declining food production – with Michael, the husband of one of his parishioners and a parolee who had served time in a Canadian prison for his eco-activism.''

Writing in the Washington Post newspaper, film critic Ann Hornaday described ''First Reformed'' as “a mesmerizing, austere drama of one man’s apocalyptic crisis of faith”; it “feels like the movie Paul Schrader was put on this planet to make.”

That's a thumbs-up!

''First Reformed'' also meets the second criterion for a good cli-fi movie: it’s a solid piece of filmmaking. So say reviews offered by dozens of websites and newspapers nationwide. And so says Professor Svoboda here.
But for ''climate change communicators'' there is a third criterion for a good cli-fi movie, according to Svoboda: ''Does it promote effective public engagement with climate change?''
YCC enlisted the aid of Leslie 
Davenport, a practicing psychotherapist and climate activist who has served on several Red Cross Disaster Mental Health Teams. Davenport agreed to see the movie and then respond to questions via e-mail. (“Wow,” was how she summed up her reaction in the e-mail she sent immediately
after seeing it.)

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

EARTHSHIPS -- a three part cli-fi series by Bonnie Jane Hall in Austin, Texas

EARTHSHIPS  -- a three part cli-fi series by Bonnie Jane Hall in Austin, Texas

Recently I spoke via email with Texas novelist Bonnie Jane Hall about a series of cli-fi novels she is writing in a trilogy called "Earthships." Each novel has its own subtitle, she explained. I asked her ten questions.
What will the third novel in your cli-fi series titled "Earthships" be about?

“For 11,700 years, the age called the Holocene, the average annual global temperature has not varied up or down by more than one degree Celsius, Bonnie said. "A drastic temperature change can take from one to three years in the new age of our planet, the Anthropocene. To succeed, agriculture needs not just warm seasons, but stable and predictable climate.”

That's a quote from Jan Zalasie.

''In my third book, which will be published next, the climate is so unstable that most food has to be grown in domes. Agriculture as humans have known it is flipped on its head. In 2040 AGI {Artificial General Intelligence} computers that understand what humans are and what they need to stay alive will take over agriculture.
AGI will design, fabricate and manage the massive domes containing the food which will help humans survive the climate.''
''America is in deep debt under a poorly designed socialistic system and has to make some changes in their non-profit health care program for human citizens and animals.''
''Laurel’s family grows with the addition of children and a couple of soldiers, friends of Sage, who move in to the city-farm. The demand for Earthships increases as the ocean floods more cities.''

Bonnie, you say that some 90 percent of the heat in the atmosphere is now in all the oceans, resulting in huge and powerful hurricanes, tornadoes and cyclones. We are fragile creatures living in a dangerous world where we must build our fortresses underground in the cool silent Earth. How did all the heat get into our oceans? Can you explain briefly?
''The oceans have always been like a sponge absorbing both heat, CO2 and other chemicals from the atmosphere. Then the oceans carry the heat into the bottom where it is very cold and over time brings it to the surface and releases it back into the atmosphere. This is a pattern that keeps the temperature stable on the planet, but CO2 is the more powerful thermostat now.''

Your first novel in the series appeared in 2017. What were some of the best reactions you heard from people who read the book?
Here are three:
“This is one of the best science-based fiction books I’ve ever read. The story in general is great and I literally couldn’t put it down.”

“Whether you believe in ‘climate change’ or ‘global warming’ or not, the book certainly presents an interesting story and to what lengths we must go as keepers of the planet to preserve it.”

“The story is believable. It is already like walking in the sun in Arizona. This was a very good read.”
Bonnie spent the last 20 years studying the works of climatologists and other scientists before writing ''Earthships.'' How did she go about doing this research and where?
''I have always been interested in science. I learned about climate change through scientists such as James Hansen, Bill McKibben and Neil deGrasse Tyson. I became fascinated with the subject of climate change and have continued reading everything I can in addition to listening to lectures by scientists on YouTube. I also read magazines such as National Geographic.''

You once said that “hurricanes like Harvey, Irma and Maria were
enhanced if not caused by climate change. And you quoted scientist Neil
deGrasse Tyson, “50 inches of rain in Houston! This is a shot across the
bow.” Do you expect more tragic hurricanes, floods and heatwaves in the USA in the summer of 2018?

''I cannot say for sure about this summer, but I do believe over the next few years we will see an increase in major weather-related disasters because the oceans are warmer, there is more moisture in the air, methane is being released and CO2 is increasing.''

You said that “we are experiencing more intense killer
hurricanes, cyclones, flooding, fires and earthquakes due to global
warming and that the Gulf Stream has been on fire with 33 percent above normal highs
after averages never above 73 degrees,” according to MIT’s Noam Chomsky. Have you sent copies of your books to Dr Chomsky yet?

''No, I haven’t because this book is meant for lay persons who want to learn more about the climate through the vehicle of story.''

You also have said: ”The hottest year on record was 2016. This heat
enhances the intensity of weather-related events and the worst is yet to
come and sooner than we can imagine.”
Do you expect 2018 and 2019 to be even hotter? Tell me more.

''I do because on average there has been a slight increase every year for the last several years. Also, as I said earlier, there are many conditions triggering the rising temperatures.''

Your first novel in the series, ''Earthships: Growing Up in the Climate Shift,'' began in 2030. In what year will the series end in the third novel?

''Book 3 will end in 2045. I haven’t decided yet if Book 3 will be the last in the 'Earthships' series. I may not be able to complete the story in three books. I am as surprised as the reader in what happens to my characters. I just set the scene and place the characters there and see how it unfolds. The story evolves as I am writing it.''

You say: “Readers will gain many practical ideas for taking positive
action and survival skills as they face more intense climate catastrophes.” For example? Some ideas?
''They will learn the need for becoming preppers, that is storing what they need for the future. They will learn how to build greenhouses so they can grow their own food. They also learn about the importance of working together to survive. They learn about how to build Earthships. The book also covers how to prepare for this Anthropocene age.''

Maya Agger also reviewed book 2 on Amazon. What did she write?

“Another must read! Book 2 is just as great as the first, if not better! It brings together the importance of love, life, family and the power of working together. This book is fun and engaging, full of excitement, adventure and well-researched information just like the last one. I couldn’t put it down.”

Last question. Are you an optimist or a pessimist when it comes to runaway global warming and the future of humankind? Is the glass half empty or half full in your opinion?

''The glass is half full.''
Bonnie ended our interview with this note: "Dan, I really appreciate our common interest: 'Cli-fi' and how important it is to inform people about the dangers we face.'

Monday, June 25, 2018

Cli Fi Is The Important New Literary Genre Of Climate Change Fiction Books

Cli Fi Is The Important New Literary Genre Of Climate Change Fiction Books

In the mid- to late-nineteenth century, a new literary genre emerged amid the anxiety and awe writers felt about then-recent advances in science and exploration.
Stories about medical procedures that produce ghastly unforeseen results, journeys to Mars, alien species, utopian and dystopian future societies, and robots, captured readers’ attention.
Writers used this medium often allegorically to explore contemporary political events and ideologies, such as fear of the red planet Mars during the Cold War, artificial intelligence surpassing human intellect, and the fate of the planet after nuclear holocaust.
We know that genre today as science fiction, or sci-fi.
Today there is a new genre taking shape amid the anxiety and awe people feel about what is arguably the most existential threat to humanity–climate change.
Say hello to climate fiction, or “cli-fi” - a term coined by literary theorist Dan Bloom at the Cli-Fi Report 
Cli-fi is a fiction sub-genre that brings credible climate change science to the reader.
According to The Guardian’s John Abraham:
“What makes a Cli-Fi novel good? Well in my opinion, it has to have some real science in it. And it has to get the science right. Second, it has to be fun to read. When done correctly, Cli-Fi can connect people to their world; it can help us understand what future climate may be like, or what current climate effects are. As I write this, we are getting a steady stream of stories out of Puerto Rico the island was devastated by Hurricane Maria. It is hard to imagine the devastation, what life is like without electricity, food, or water. What is life like on an island of three million people, each fending for themselves, just trying to survive?”
As Earth’s temperature continues to rise, as we surpass more climate tipping points, people are asking what life will be like in 25 or 100 years. How will governments handle mass migrations as losses of natural resources drive people away from their native lands? What diseases will we be forced to confront asinvasive species inhabit new environments? What new diseases are going to plague us?
As with all art, cli-fi presents us opportunities to explore these questions. It also creates a dialog in an age where the corporate media tiptoes around any mention of climate change when reporting natural disasters, and the President of the United States is off message.
An example of a recent cli-fi novel is South Pole Station by Ashley Shelby.
In it, readers meet artist Cooper Gosling, traveling with funding from the National Science Foundation to a research location in Antarctica to paint.
While there, Gosling receives news a radical scientist and climate change denier is arriving. With the right of degree of backstabbing and sabotage we expect from contemporary thrillers, this scientist’s presence upsets the delicate social balance between the other research scientists.
Legendary author Salman Rushdie recently observed that we might require the fiction writer today to delineate what is and is not reality in light of the amount of real-life lies, fantasy, and fiction passed off as truth.
Cli-fi might be just the creativity we need to move the needle.

THE ENTROPY MODEL by Thomas Tunstall


The Entropy Model: 
A novel

Thomas Tunstall

Greetings to the MAHB Community,
We would like to bring your attention to a novel written by political economist, Thomas Tunstall. In The Entropy ModelTunstall uses fiction to explore the disconnect between economics and ecosystem:
Briana Ruiz and Jack McCullough meet in grad school at the University of Texas at Austin. They find themselves conflicted about the current state of economic theory, as well as with each other. There is a disconnect between economics and ecosystems that continues to be unresolved by theory and by public policy discussions at the highest levels.
Nearing graduation, Briana must decide whether to accept an offer from Parkus Corporation, a company that seems leading edge, but may be engaging in questionable environmental practices. As Briana starts to understand the truth about Parkus Corporation – aided in large measure by Jack – she realizes the 21st-century economy may have different rules than the ones baby boomers followed. She begins work on a mathematical model – an entropy model which incorporates variables economists have failed to consider – in order to make more accurate predictions. …
Briana’s work brings her and Jack directly into conflict with the Federal Reserve, the White House and the economics’ establishment. Once again, environmental anomalies begin to reoccur throughout the world. This time, as they increase in frequency, the stakes get higher. The clash between economics and ecosystems, between economic theory and public policy are taking place in real time, and the stage is set for the next great transition of the human species – whether for good or ill.
Time is running out, and Washington doesn’t want to hear about it, despite the fact that the bubbles keep getting bigger, and the crashes keep getting worse. As financial systems and ecosystems approach a simultaneous peak, will anyone listen before it’s too late to stop the collapse?

The Entropy Model is independently published, and is available in ebook version or published on demand.

Andy Revkin - ASK SCIENCE AMA Series on Reddit JUNE 2018


Single comment thread. View all comments 
5 points·14 hours ago We have Andrew Revkin from the National Geographic Society here to answer your questions on the communication of climate change, ask him anything!
(Photo by Jim Reed)
Can you describe the planning and bureaucracy that has gone into your work, and/or the major complications that prevent you from doing more for your work?
What research/ers do you have an ill bias towards and why?
Everyone’s heard of global warming and climate change, but as someone who hasn’t been well informed, what significant changes and/or developments have been found that aren’t highlighted enough in media, and can you provide names or links to find out more about them?
National Geographic AMA
4 points·11 hours ago
On your first question, my "plan" for my communication efforts - and for how I set priorities in brainstorming with others at Nat Geo Society on where to focus grants - is mainly to do homework looking at root causes of issues. What's driving deforestation. What's behind society's inertia in moving off fossil fuels. Why do we keep building in environmental danger zones (earthquake, flood). Then where would communication innovation make a difference. Here's one example related to construction in earthquake zones: "Amid Katmandu’s Earthquake Wreckage, Hints of a Shift to Safer Construction." There, the solution is not telling a better story. Read to learn more.
For the sake of time, I'll focus on one example of what's missing in global warming coverage -- budgets for basic science related to moving beyond fossil fuels. In 2006, I wrote my first page-one story examining the weird fact that budgets for energy-related research (both in the US and most advanced nations) were falling despite growing concerns about global warming.
Not much has changed. The media tend to focus on bright shiny news around Teslas or Germany's solar push while not fully examining what would need to happen to have global transportation moving off fossil fuels. Every groundbreaking component in a Tesla was derived from basic science undertaken during the Space Race and Cold War. In a world heading toward 9 billion people seeking decent lives, it's hard to see an accelerated path without much more focus on that end. It is not remotely sufficient, but necessary.