Saturday, February 29, 2020

Jenny Offill’s Cli-Fi Novella‘Weather’ explores what it means to survive in trying times

Review: Jenny Offill’s Cli-Fi Novella‘Weather’ explores what it means to survive in trying times

  • Reviewer Catherine Holmes teaches English at the College of Charleston
From the front lines of a planet in disrepair comes Jenny Offill’s “Weather,” a pliable, resistant novel that hangs on to the jokey voice of its predecessor, “Dept. of Speculation.”
Many readers (I am one) fall hard for Offill’s spare, fractured method. The story of “Dept. of Speculation” comes in blocks of text, almost like puzzle pieces, that readers can connect for a fuller picture of its narrator’s domestic crisis. “Weather” is equally piecemeal, and Lizzie, its narrator, is obsessed with gathering fragments against the ruin of time.
Offill describes herself as a “meat-eating, plane-flying, march-hating person” who began writing “Weather” as a cli-fi survival manual for her daughter. Lizzie is also a parent who becomes an “accidental activist” like her creator.
Lizzie (married to Ben, a Jewish academic, and we don’t learn her name until almost halfway into the novel) is a “feral librarian” — that is, one without a library degree. She gave up on her Ph.D. program, and Sylvia, her dissertation director, pulled strings to arrange the job.
Quickly, we come to realize that her life is thronged with people, some of them nameless: the “doomed adjunct” whom she loads with supplies when no one’s watching; the “man in the shabby suit” who works for hospice and tells her things she wants to know (for instance, that it’s important to stay in a house for three days after a death, to experience the “manifestations”); Mohan at the bodega, who will keep the cat that wanders in because his wife no longer loves him; Henry, her drug-addicted brother; Ben, her educational-game-designing husband; Eli, her son and the sweetest kid going; and others.
At the end of the novel, Lizzie will say, “All these people. I have so many people, you wouldn’t believe it.” It is not an offhand comment. They are the essence of her life.

Lizzie is anxious. She can’t sleep without Ambien and is happy to learn she’s “habituated,” not addicted. Her child’s fancy former preschool sends a newsletter with a list of the top 10 childhood fears. Darkness doesn’t make the list, but “blood, sharks, and loneliness are eight, nine, and ten.” And Lizzie? Her greatest fear is “the acceleration of days.”
Every year on her birthday, she checks in with Virginia Woolf’s diaries to see her thoughts on reaching the same age. On the day she turned 44 (Lizzie’s age), Woolf wrote that she was heading toward death, “as the river shoots to Niagara ...”
Offill ratchets up the accelerating days and dread when she gives Lizzie a second job, as an assistant answering Sylvia’s email. Since she became a star doomsday podcaster (“Hell and High Water”), Sylvia’s mail is through the roof.
Offill writes as if from the long historical perspective. Her end-times narrative is both desperate and funny. People do crazy things and think crazy thoughts when the stakes have already been lost. There’s talk of de-extinction. Saber-tooth tigers, maybe woolly mammoths, could make a come-back.
Lizzie is not giving up. She ponders how to “channel all this dread into action.” She buys a telescope because she wants to see. She buys running shoes because she wants to run. She tries the Unitarian Church. It turns out they are not her tribe: “All that eye contact.” Meanwhile, Sylvia has given up and gone to the darkest place in North America, somewhere in Nevada.
Our narrator is just getting started. She has a fling with “prepper” web sites, where she learns: 1. how to start a fire with a gum wrapper and a battery and 2. what to do if you run out of candles (make one by stabbing a hole in a can of oil-packed tuna and inserting a wick made of newspaper). She and Ben have semi-serious conversations about who they’ll invite to join them on their “doomstead.”
Lizzie is such a charming empath, her sensibility so offbeat, and her dread of climate catastrophe so real that they overshadow other threats. As she is peopling am imaginary doomstead; Lizzie’s actual household is in jeopardy. Ben and Eli break away for a three-week “glamping” trip, and Lizzie finds herself flirting with someone she meets on the subway.
At the heart of “Weather” are questions about what it will mean to be among the survivors. After the book ends, all alone on a page is the following web address: Click it, and you’ll find 45 “Tips for Trying Times,” beginning with Tip 1, “Read and Reread” and ending with Tip 45, “Make Wishes for the New Year” from the “Collected Letters” of Ernest Shackleton: “May the new one bring us good fortune, a safe deliverance from this anxious time and all good things to those we love so far away.”
Jenny Offill’s wonderful cli-fi ends with its own plea to close distances: “The core delusion is that I am here and you are there.”
Reviewer Catherine Holmes teaches English at the College of Charleston.


''Hello Dan Bloom at The Cli-Fi Report,

I came across your cli-fi blog and love it! With your permission, I would like to contribute a cli-fi short story I wrote.

- Best,



BY JAMES SCHWARTZ (copyright 2020)

JAMES SCHWARTZ is a poet, writer, slam performer and author of 5 poetry collections including ''The Literary Party: Growing Up Gay and Amish in America.''


["The Oil Eaters" is from James Schwartz, the author of "The Literary Party: Growing Up Gay and Amish in America"

A dystopian cli-fi short story set in a post-apocalyptic planet in ruin and following the journey of a queer hustler, Julian, whose survival depends on navigating a warring post Capitalism Collapse world of Colonizers and the First Nationmen, wastelands of toxic rains and Oil Outposts.

The story begins with Julian on the move in the Midwest ("Gateway to Amish Artifacts Country") hustling truck drivers around the now volcanic Turtle Island, seducing a First Nationmen warrior and following his quest for survival in the land of "The Oil Eaters". 


Sometimes Julian dreamed about the City of Refuge, passing through onyx lava rock walls, all sins and crimes absolved on a faraway Pacific isle. 
Sometimes he dreamed about ancient heaus to Lono and gods even older. 
Other times he witnessed the volcanoes erupting in magnificent splendor against the heavy darkness of the tropics. 
Always he awoke with a sense of panting disorientation.

Julian squinted, stepping out of the cheerful Swiss style motel and into the crisp autumn sunshine. The motel - its sign promising to be your #1 Choice in Accommodations - and Gateway to Amish Artifacts Country - stood close to the toll road, diesel perfuming the morning. 

He sat for several minutes by the curb smoking a cigarette. Eventually the man emerged from their room, slamming the door behind him with an air of satisfaction.

"I'm going north." 
The man gestured at the toll road but Julian shook his head at him until he strode away across the parking lot where his rig sat. The semi sputtered to life and became a speck on the horizon.

Julian had counted the cash in the predawn hour, the trucker snoring and sprawled over nearly the entire bed. He had been more generous than Julian had anticipated, the stack of hundred dollar bills held together by a Bank of Oil Outposts clasp. 

Julian was from the Colonizers, a failed offshoot of the Europea Capitalists that had flourished on Turtle Island until the Great Oil Collapse.
He had still been a child but could recall the grim white faces of The Capitalists on television, the burning cities and mass protests against the Extinction.
The world was quieter now but traffic flowed across Turtle Island's highways to the Oil Outposts.

He walked to the highway, sticking out his thumb. Almost immediately a passing semi slowed to a halt. Julian leapt up into the passenger seat, brushing his shoulder length sandy hair away from his delicate features and grinned at Timothy the Trucker, Tallahassee bound.


They reached Nashville after dark, the cityscape half in darkness. Julian sucked him off in the parking lot, one hand massaging his thigh, the other curled around a gold cross that hung from a chain around his neck.
Timothy the Trucker noticed the cross gleaming in his dashboard lights.
"You believe in the Messiah?"
Julian responded by slipping the cross between his lips and running it up and down his length. Timothy gasped almost comically before ejaculating with a series of grunts. 
As they left the Outpost the noxious chemical rains begin to fall. Julian pulled the hood of his oversized sweatshirt (Detroit vs. Everybody) over his head and fell asleep. Timothy listened to 100.3 XM, Today's Oil Outpost Hits.


Toxic Rain Alert

 Keep Windows Up, Do Not Expose Skin 

Entering First Nation Land At Your Own Risk 

Atlanta Shores / Jacksonville Shores 

Volcanic Activity Ahead 

Julian jumped out of the truck at the Tallahassee Outpost store with a backward wave and a considerable amount of cash. The store was stocked with respirators, breathing masks, topical burn creams and umbrellas. 
For a brief moment he froze - The store was manned by a First Nationmen warrior. He eyed the umbrellas, selecting one in case he couldn't get a ride and made his way to the service counter. 
The warrior eyed him with hostility.
"I do not serve Colonizers here." 
His gaze fell to Julian's crucifix necklace with distaste.
Too late Julian realized he had forgotten to tuck it out of sight. 


"I am decolonized" 
Julian answered coolly, tossing cash on the counter. 
The First Nationman suddenly roared with laughter. 
"You are a brave one." 
His smile was appreciative.
"I am in service to all First Nationmen." 
Julian smirked at him.
He would live to see another day.

The Swamps were a respite, no toxic rain fell here and the warrior granted him sanctuary.

Julian remembered seeing birds on television but never in his life until now.
The Swamps housed a flock of feral, grey-white creatures with talons that gripped the branches of withered cypress trees and eyed him with ferocious intensity and shrieked at him as he guided a canoe carved by the warrior through the Swamps and amid ropes of dead Spanish moss.

His warrior-lover, named Ata, fucked him with smooth, fluid grace by the fire at night and once up against a tree that shed pearl colored sap when touched. 
Julian was an expert at manipulating men to orgasm but the warrior was not satisfied until his deep penetration brought Julian to a shuddering climax, only then releasing him with reluctance.
Ata tore the chain from Julian's neck and hurled it into the toxic brown waters that covered the Swampland.

On instinct Julian dove into the waters after it, retrieving the now corroded cross and spent the next week ill, spitting up blood and wracked by a burning fever.
Ata sneered at him curled by the fire, gasping for breath.
"You are Whore" He kicked Julian, catching him in the throat and triggering a coughing fit.

Julian left the First Nationmen sanctuary in the ochre colored night, unseen volcanoes shaking the earth and splitting the highways.

He hitched rides north and west, one trucker forcing him to fellate his dick by knifepoint, piercing the blade into his neck as he came. 

In several days Julian had reached the Oil Outpost of Los Angeles Shores where the Pacific Ocean surged through abandoned skyscrapers.
He remembered the oceans on television which bore little resemblance to the heaving black garbage piles that rose and fell around the buildings.

This was the largest city of Oil Eaters remaining since the Capitalism Collapse. 
Julian entered the cathedral silently, walking up the aisle past the altar adorned by a massive crucifix fashioned from the sea- metals.

Outside the church walls he could hear the sounds of the Oil Eaters at work in the refinery and the crashing waves of garbage. 
He knelt before the throne also forged from the garbage and kissed the feet of the Holy Oil Eater. 
"Forgive me Father for I have sinned."
The figure on the throne was a long deceased corpse, it's skeleton black and corroded, its vestments in tatters.

In the silence of the sanctuary Julian imagined he could hear the birds. 


Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Cli-Fi -- If you haven't heard of the term yet, then as Bill suggests, Google it.

In a recent exchange on Twitter, the climate activist Bill McKibben wrote to Elizabeth Evans and Doug Gordon, who were in on the conversation:

"Must-read: Kim Stanley Robinson's ''New York 2140.'' If you love New York, it's one of the best books since E.B. White. And it has a lot of boats in it'.'

To which Evans replied with a question she had:: "Holy Cow. Is there an evolving genre of climate fiction?"

To which Bill replied in the affirmative: "indeed, Google "cli-fi."

This news this week from Twitter brings to mind an essay Bill wrote in 2009 titled: ''Four years after my pleading essay in Grist in 2005, climate art is hot."

Of that ''pleading little essay'' he wrote in 2005?

"It was probably the last moment I could have written it," Bill said in 2009, again in Grist. "Clearly there were lots and lots of people already thinking the same way, because ever since it’s seemed to me as if deep and moving images and sounds and words have been flooding out into the world.''
That torrent of art has been, often, deeply disturbing --  it should be deeply disturbing, given what we’re doing to the Earth, McKibben noted, careful to capitalize the word Earth, even though his editors told him not to.

That's why, In his spirited exchange on Twitter in 2020, the veteran climate activist wrote to his two friends Elizabeth and Doug, who were in on the Twitter conversation:

"Must-read: Kim Stanley Robinson's ''New York 2140.'' If you love New York, it's one of the best books since E.B. White. And it has a lot of boats in it'.'

And to which Evans replied, as noted above: "Holy Cow. Is there an evolving genre of climate fiction?"

And to which Bill replied in the affirmative: "indeed, Google "cli-fi."

"Artists, in a sense, are the antibodies of the cultural bloodstream," McKibben wrote in that 2009 essay. "They sense trouble early, and rally to isolate and expose and defeat it, to bring to bear the human power for love and beauty and meaning against the worst results of carelessness and greed and stupidity. So when art both of great worth, and in great quantities, begins to cluster around an issue, it means that civilization has identified it finally as a threat. Artists and scientists perform this function most reliably; politicians are a lagging indicator.''

And now in 2020, Bill has fully embraced the new literary genre of cli-fi, first promoted just two years after he wrote that 2009 essay.

If you haven't heard of the term yet, then as Bill suggests, Google it.

To which Bill replied in the affirmative: "indeed, Google "cli-fi"

on Twitter  on Feb, 25, 2020  @BillMcKibben, in replying to @BrooklynSpoke wrote:

"Must read: Kim Stanley Robinson's ''New York 2140.'' If you love New York, it's one of the best books since E.B. White. And it has a lot of boats in it''

To which @WallaceWriter and @BrooklynSpoke replied: "Holy Cow! Is there an evolving genre of climate fiction?"

To which Bill replied in the affirmative: "indeed, Google "cli-fi"

Tuesday, February 25, 2020

To ask for a book blurb before your book is published or not to ask for one, that is the question....

''To ask for a book blurb before your book is published or not to ask for one, that is the question....''

A novelist somewhere in the Milky Way Galaxy writes:

In the last year or so, I’ve gotten an increasing number of blurb requests for books that are not yet sold to a publisher.

They’re “done,” in that the author has completed a draft of some iteration, and gotten an agent with that draft. But the book ain’t really done.

No editor has likely touched it.

No publisher has put the seal-of-approval upon it.

And yet, the author — or, likelier still, the agent — wants a blurb.

A blurb, to clarify the language, is the marketing text on and in a book where another author says, “AELLEN VAN DORENN IS AN AUTEUR TO WATCH.''

So, why are agents/authors/editors asking for book blurbs that are pre-sale, pre-pitch blurbs?

My guess is that having a named, extent author give a pre-emptive seal-of-approval will either help the agent sell the book to an editor, or will help an editor sell the book through to acquisitions.

For those not in the know on this one, an editor wanting to buy the book isn’t enough. They need a lot of acquisitional sign-off, meaning, the publisher needs to wink and nod that they know how to, and are willing to, sell this book. An editor’s love for it surely carries some weight, but is not in any way the deciding factor. The industry thrives on love, but runs on money.

Monday, February 24, 2020

''Stop trying to make “cli-fi” happen.'' followed by "It already happened, in 2011. Where you been?"

''Stop trying to make “cli-fi” happen.''

ANSWERED BY: "It already happened, in 2011. Where you been?"

Every year many of the best novellas come from for Greg Egan’s Perihelion Summer, another example of cli-fi (unavoidable these days, and it should be unavoidable, as we learn with each new sis, most obviously, as I write, the wildfires in Egan’s own country, Australia).

Short Cli-Fi Fiction in Print, 2019
 reviewed by Rich Horton for LOCUS Magazine
Rich Horton (2018) Photo by Francesca Myman

I’ll begin with two collections that got a great deal of notice outside the SF field. One is Orange World, by Karen Russell... As for Orange World, I’ll mention that I liked the title story enough to enquire about using it in my Best of the Year anthology (Karen  declined, in deference to the collection.) There’s one new story in this book, “The Gondoliers”, a very fine near-future SF (or “cli-fi”) story, about a young woman who steers a gondola through the waters that have taken over southern Florida. We learn a little about the catastrophe, from a passenger who remembers the old times, and hints of the new world, particularly the ways this woman and her sisters have adapted.

“The Gondoliers” was also published in the final issue of Tin House, which was a literary magazine noticeably sympathetic to the fantastic.

Three original anthologies that stuck out for me were Jonathan Strahan’s Mission Critical, Nisi Shawl’s New Suns, and Cat Rambo’s If This Goes On.

Mission Critical features stories about characters in desperate situations, incdung “Cyclopterus” by Peter WattsWatts’s story is more cli-fi, and terribly dark, as we might expect from him – with two people trapped in a deepwater submarine after some sort of underwater wave destroys their refuge: this is a future Earth already destroyed, and even hoped for safety under the ocean is illusory.

Every year many of the best novellas come from for  Greg Egan’s Perihelion Summer, another example of cli-fi (unavoidable these days, and it should be unavoidable, as we learn with each new crisis, most obviously, as I write, the wildfires in Egan’s own country, Australia). In this long novella a black hole intensifies the crisis, and the story follows attempts to ride out the disaster on a self-sufficient “floating island.” Plenty of sharp speculation, resembling Kim Stanley Robinson but less optimistic.

Rich Horton works for a major aerospace company in St. Louis. He has published over a dozen anthologies, including the yearly series The Year’s Best Science Fiction and Fantasy from Prime Books, and he is the Reprint Editor for Lightspeed Magazine. He contributes articles and reviews on SF and SF history to numerous publications.

This review and more like it in the February 2020 issue of Locus.

Sunday, February 23, 2020

A good Brazilian example is novelist Ana Luísa Abreu's ''Radioactive Christ,'' who was a finalist in the Rio de Literatura contest in 2015.

Cristo Radioativo
Finalista do concurso Rio de Literatura de 2015, Cristo Radioativo é uma distopia contada sob o ponto de vista de Hebe, uma menina de dezessete anos que sonha em fazer Engenharia de Telecomunicações para poder sair da sua cidade cercada e conhecer o Rio de Janeiro, ou o que restou dele depois da Grande Guerra Nuclear. Entre ataques de mutantes e rebeldes, doenças misteriosas e as ruínas da cidade que já foi uma das mais belas do mundo, Hebe vai descobrir que nem tudo é o que parece ser fora da cerca, mas, principalmente, nem tudo é o que parece ser dentro dela

Mundo Pós-Apocalípse: E Se Todas As Previsões Sobre Mudanças Climáticas Se Concretizassem?


Post-apocalypse world: what if all the predictions about climate change came true

FEB 23, 2020 

It has been a long time since the scientific community warned about the issue of global warming. According to the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), by 2019 the Earth's average temperature was 1.1˚C warmer than in the Pre-industrial Era, but that number could still increase at 2˚C, 5˚C or even 6˚C by 2100. The problem is that, according to scientific predictions, this increase is responsible for extreme weather events occurring more and more frequently.
In an interview with the Correio Braziliense, Dr Sarah Green, professor of chemistry at the University of Technology of Michigan, says that while 97% of the articles published and reviewed by climate scientists agree that humans are the cause, a much smaller percentage of the public understands this.

"There are the obvious financial interests in continuing our dependence on fossil fuels, their efforts to confuse the public on this issue have been documented... The interest of these groups is to convince the public that "science is not established".

Dr Gregers Andersen, a literature expert at the University of Copenhagen, developed the thesis that fiction would be more effective in teaching about the dangers of global warming than meetings, studies and debates promoted by researchers. After all, long before the theme of Global Warming fell into people's mouths, the world was already stopping to discuss the film "The Day After Tomorrow" still in 2004.

In addition, science fiction is famous for predicting many of the things we have today, such as Jules Verne's submarines and space travel, H.G. Wells' atomic bombs, William Gibson's hackers and cyber crimes still in the 1980s. So it's not hard to imagine that fiction can also approach the world after a climate crisis like the one we are experiencing.
So much so that in 2011, American literary journalist Dan Bloom popularized the term Cli-Fi (Climate Fiction), and it became so successful that it became a subgenre of speculative fiction. Cli-fi novels are fictional works that address the effects of the climate crisis today or in the not too distant future, and they are not few.

A good example of Cli-Fi is An American War of Omar El-Akkad (2017). The story is set in the United States experiencing a second civil war that is due to a lack of resources caused by climate change. In this scenario, large areas of California and Mexico are submerged in water and Florida has completely disappeared.

A similar Brazilian example is Ana Luísa Abreu's ''Radioactive Christ,'' who became a finalist in the Rio de Literatura contest in 2015. The story takes place some time after World War III, caused by the lack of food generated by the effects of climate change in the world. Without food, the countries entered a great nuclear war that ended the world as we know it today. The inhabitants of Rio de Janeiro call the pre-nuclear era the Bonanza Era and need to live in surrounded cities to protect themselves from mutants and rebels. The only thing that keeps the cities is Nestelar, the only company that survives the chaos. Ordinary people eat only feed, food is rare and very expensive and a simple cold can kill hundreds of people. Sound familiar? A little too familiar, isn't it?

"It's frightening to think of the things that can happen to us in a short time, with our children. I believe that, although commercial, my book was a finalist for addressing a topic that may well become a reality. I agree that fiction helps alert the masses to danger because the masses don't read scientific articles, but everyone watches movies, series and reads entertainment books," says the author.

Besides these, there are still many other works in the genre that imagine our world if nothing is done now, but let's hope that none of this becomes a reality. For that we need to be aware of the urgency and importance of the theme. If fiction is really the best way to raise media awareness with mass communication, let's get to work.

Translated with (free version)

De acordo com especialista dinamarquês, a ficção seria mais eficaz em alertar a sociedade sobre os perigos das mudanças climáticas do que estudiosos. Nesse aspecto, o Cli-Fi (Climate Fiction) é o subgênero de ficção que tem ganhado força nos últimos anos por pensar e alertar a sociedade sobre os efeitos do aquecimento global e seus possíveis desdobramentos.

Ana Luísa Abreu na Bienal do Livro do Rio de Janeiro em 2017 ( Ana Luísa Abreu )

Eu concordo que a ficção ajuda a alertar a sociedade sobre o perigo. A massa não lê artigos científicos, mas todo mundo assiste filmes, séries e lê livros.
Rio de Janeiro ,20/02/2020 –
Já faz tempo que a comunidade científica alerta sobre a questão do aquecimento global. De acordo com a OMM (Organização Meteorológica Mundial), em 2019 a temperatura média da Terra estava 1,1˚C mais quente do que na Era Pré-industrial, mas esse número ainda pode aumentar em 2˚C, 5˚C ou até 6˚C até 2100. O problema é que, de acordo com as previsões científicas, esse aumento é o responsável por eventos climáticos extremos ocorrendo de forma cada vez mais frequente.
Em entrevista cedida ao Correio Braziliense, Sarah Green, professora de Química na Universidade Tecnológica de Michigan, afirma que, enquanto 97% dos artigos publicados e revisados por cientistas sobre o clima concordam que humanos são a causa, uma porcentagem muito menor do público entende isso.
“Há os interesses financeiros óbvios em continuar a nossa dependência em combustíveis fósseis, os esforços deles para confundir o público nesse assunto foram documentados… O interesse desses grupos é convencer o público de que “a ciência não está estabelecida”.
Gregers Andersen, especialista em literatura da Universidade de Copenhague, desenvolveu a tese de que a ficção seria mais eficiente para ensinar sobre os perigos do aquecimento global do que os encontros, estudos e debates promovidos por pesquisadores. Afinal, muito antes do tema Aquecimento Global cair na boca do povo, o mundo já parava para discutir o filme “O dia depois de amanhã” ainda em 2004.
Além disso, a ficção científica é famosa por prever muitas das coisas que temos hoje, como os submarinos e as viagens espaciais de Júlio Verne, bombas atômicas de H.G. Wells, hackers e crimes cibernéticos por William Gibson ainda nos anos 80. Assim, não é difícil imaginar que a ficção também possa se aproximar do mundo após uma crise climática como a que estamos vivenciando.
Tanto é que, em meados dos anos 2000, o jornalista Dan Bloom popularizou o termo Cli-Fi (Climate Fiction), e fez tanto sucesso que acabou se tornando um subgênero de ficção. Cli-fis são trabalhos ficcionais que abordam os efeitos da crise climática hoje ou em um futuro não muito distante, e não são poucos.
Um bom exemplo de Cli-Fi é Uma Guerra Americana de Omar El-Akkad (2017). A história se passa nos Estados Unidos que estão vivendo uma segunda guerra civil que acontece pela falta de recursos causados pelas mudanças climáticas. Nesse cenário, grandes áreas da Califórnia e do México estão submersos em água e a Florida desapareceu completamente.
Um exemplo brasileiro parecido é Cristo Radioativo de Ana Luísa Abreu que chegou a ser finalista do concurso Rio de Literatura em 2015. A história se passa algum tempo depois da Terceira Guerra Mundial, causada pela falta de comida gerada pelos efeitos das mudanças climáticas no mundo. Sem comida, os países entraram em uma grande guerra nuclear que acabou com mundo como conhecemos hoje. Os habitantes do Rio de Janeiro chamam a era pré-nuclear de Era da Bonança e precisam viver em cidades cercadas para se protegerem dos mutantes e dos rebeldes. A única coisa que mantém as cidades é a Nestelar, a única empresa sobrevivente ao caos. As pessoas comuns comem apenas ração, comida é algo raro e muito caro e um simples resfriado pode matar centenas de pessoas. Parece familiar? Até demais, não?
“É assustador pensar nas coisas que podem acontecer conosco em pouco tempo, com nossos filhos. Acredito que, apesar de comercial, meu livro tenha sido finalista por abordar um tema que pode muito bem se tornar realidade. Eu concordo que a ficção ajuda a alertar a massa sobre o perigo porque a massa não lê artigos científicos, mas todo mundo assiste filmes, séries e lê livros de entretenimento”, diz a autora.
Além destes, ainda existem muitos outros trabalhos no gênero que imaginam o nosso mundo caso nada seja feito agora, mas vamos torcer para que nada disso se torne realidade. Para isso precisamos ter consciência da urgência e importância do tema. Se a ficção for realmente o melhor caminho para conscientizar a mídia com comunicação em massa, mãos à obra.

Friday, February 21, 2020


The Search for New Worlds to Make Us Care More About the Climate Crisis

Properties have been destroyed in bushfires in Australia.
The essays in “An Ecotopian Lexicon” seek to expand the way we describe the present-day climate crisis.Photograph by Dean Sewell / Sydney Morning Herald / Getty
The reason we find ourselves verging toward planetary extinction is fairly simple: for quite some time, it’s been profitable for humans to behave this way. For business and government, it’s always been easier to toggle between plunder and neglect than to mind long-term, civilizational time lines. The actual conspiracy is that we are made to feel as though humanity’s fate were purely a matter of personal choice—our desire to buy this, that, or nothing at all, our collective willingness to recycle or compost. This isn’t to say that we possess no power at all. But the scale of the problem is difficult to comprehend, and discussions leave many of us feeling overwhelmed and paralyzed, reduced to myopic debates about whether we are too scared or not scared enough.
Perhaps, as Matthew Schneider-Mayerson and Brent Ryan Bellamy argue, our inability to imagine another path forward reflects a limited vocabulary. Their modest contribution is the recently published “An Ecotopian Lexicon,” a collection of essays that seeks to expand the language we use to describe the present-day crisis and its possibilities. At this point, as they note in their introduction, we know how bad it is out there. They are interested in the “struggle to understand,” at the level of both politics and emotions, how we might meaningfully respond to life in the Anthropocene, the term that scientists use to describe the present geologic epoch, where human activity has substantially influenced the climate and environment.
For Schneider-Mayerson, an assistant professor of environmental studies at Yale-NUS College, in Singapore, and Bellamy, an instructor at Trent University who specializes in science-fiction studies and energy humanities, our emerging reality requires a new language. They invited a range of writers, scholars, and artists to choose a word or phrase, mainly taken from the non-English-speaking world, that might help us understand this struggle anew. These are what linguists call loanwords, or “terms that are adopted into one language from another without translation.” Leaving the words in their original language—in this case: Thai, Gaeilge, Norwegian, and Luganda, among others—is a reminder of the histories and cultures embedded in everyday thought.
“An Ecotopian Lexicon” is part dream, part provocation. In his foreword, the writer Kim Stanley Robinson describes Schneider-Mayerson and Bellamy’s book as a “science fiction story in the form of a lexicon.” As Robinson notes, science-fiction writers often invent new words out of necessity, in order to describe new technologies or social formations. Some of the lexicon’s most provocative moments involve recent neologisms. A “blockadia,” Randall Amster writes, arises in the work of Naomi Klein, and it describes the “vast but interwoven web of campaigns” against the fossil-fuel industry. Today, activists see blockadia not as one place but more of a roving space of protest. A blockadia manifests wherever and whenever people use direct action to oppose resource extraction. Coming up with a single term broad enough to describe these movements around the world would help normalize these demonstrations. Rather than scattered fringe protests, they are part of a whole, constituting the last line of defense against new pipelines or fracking.
Sofia Ahlberg discusses “fotminne,” a term coined by the Swedish novelist Kerstin Ekman, which roughly translates to “foot memory.” “Fotminne,” Ahlberg writes, describes a kind of primeval awareness, a felt connection to all who have walked these grounds before and the ways they changed it. But it can also have a contractual dimension: our foot “strikes a deal with the ground” with each step we take. Daniel Worden writes of the “cibopathic,” a trait possessed by characters in the comic book series “Chew.” A “cibopath” is able to access the full history of something—where it was grown, how it was harvested—by tasting it.
Then again, as the book suggests, the intuitive, almost metaphysical link between time and place, past and present, isn’t so futuristic at all. For some, it’s an innate part of one’s identity. There are essays on the Luganda salutation “gyebale,” which Jennifer Lee Johnson translates as “thank you for the work you do,” and the ancient Maya greeting “in lak’ech—a la k’inn,” which John Esposito translates as “I’m another you. You’re another me.” Both suggest a kind of communal ethos baked into how two strangers might regard each another. Allison Ford and Kari Marie Norgaard discuss the Arabic word “ghurba,” a kind of melancholic longing for home. They try to explore how such a term would resonate in a time when we are “confronted with deep collective loss.” “What is special about our homelands that we fear losing? How might we mourn those aspects that will be lost? How might we bring aspects of home into the future, so that when we arrive there we do not have to feel like strangers?”
Perhaps this seems fatalistic. But feelings of instability will only grow more common as the climate crisis deepens, so maybe language that forces us to confront loss directly and thoughtfully might prevent the onset of total despair. Maybe it can lead us somewhere else altogether. Sam Solnick borrows the term “apocalypso” from the poet Evelyn Reilly. The “apocalypse” part is clear; the “calypso” part, not so much. Solnick is interested not in celebrating tumult but in describing that strange ecstasy one might feel among a crowd of strangers, resisting something together. “Apocalypso” offers a “fusion of joy and critique” that collects our diffuse energies rather than sending us off into our “individualist survival fantasies.”
Naturally, there is a risk that borrowing someone else’s language, terminology, or scraps of larger belief systems might feel like a fetishizing gesture. But as Schneider-Mayerson and Bellamy note early on, citing the environmental critic Ursula Heise, the current crisis is one that requires a new kind of global thinking, one that resists single languages or cultures. This is a globalization that seeks to destabilize the center, not absorb everything toward it.
There’s a wonky yet infectious hopefulness to “An Ecotopian Lexicon.” It highlights the cognitive gaps of English to think about the untranslatability of “qi,” the Chinese faith in a kind of all-governing, equilibrium-seeking, life-force energy. Reading these entries, each so careful and thoughtful about their small terrain in a larger debate, one can’t help but slow down. Perhaps not, as many contributors implore, to recalibrate to “plant time.” But to at least reassess the language we use, the sleek, clipped rhythms of modern life, or the disruptive clunk of “Anthropocene.” Think of the terms we use to capture the conveniences and efficiency of today, and how living a “wireless” life or embracing the minimalism of “cord-cutting” actually obscures, say, the vast amounts of electricity required to sustain the Internet. Finally, consider the difference between calling it “climate change” and a “crisis,” the entire history that lives between an organization called Greenpeace and a movement called Extinction Rebellion.
It’s easy to feel weighed down by the discourse, but maybe we’ve simply been using the wrong words. Perhaps, at a time of such stark extremes, there’s something meaningful about language that describes transition, a state of in-betweenness. “Godhuli,” Malcolm Sen explains, is a Bengali term. It means “twilight” but also “the fleeting moments that immediately follow sunset,” when the cows trample up dust and return from pasture. Sen treats “godhuli” as a kind of conceptual placeholder. It’s a mood, a metaphor, a prism through which to admire anew our relationship to “space and time, light and dust.” It’s a word that describes something ephemeral, that moment which invariably passes each day. “An Ecotopian Lexicon,” as Robinson notes, is a story. But it’s one with a dozen different endings, bound by a collective push to rethink what we resign to inevitability.

Our Obsession With the End of the World, As We Know It -- from student oped by Morgan Hughes

Our Obsession With the End of the World, As We Know It
Have we reached the end of the world?

In the summer of 2019, a series of headlines flooded the internet claiming that we could face a climate-caused doomsday by the year 2050.

With global warming and total climate collapse becoming an ever-looming and ever-worsening threat, many fear that the apocalypse is now, and we as a society are obsessed with it. At least that’s what Pennsylvania State University philosophy professor Ted Toadvine presented on Feb. 10  during his lecture “Why are We Obsessed with the End of the World?”

Are we actually obsessed with Armageddon? Well, think about it.

Toadvine argues that our obsession is evident in the books we read and movies/TV shows we watch. Young adult reading lists are plastered with dystopian bestsellers like the “Hunger Games” trilogy or the “Divergent” series. At its peak, “The Walking Dead” amassed over 17 million viewers, and films such as “Apocalypse Now” are no strangers to the Academy Awards.
But beyond our apocalyptically themed entertainment, this fear of the world’s end holds real ground in current geological events.
In the past, when storytellers imagined our destruction, mankind was wiped out by natural phenomenons such as earthquakes or plagues. But over the course of the last few decades, human-caused climate catastrophe has become “our favorite vision of the end,” according to Toadvine. Even spurring on a new genre of fiction: cli-fi, or climate fiction; think “Interstellar.”
But why this sudden trend towards a climate-based apocalypse?
Toadvine stated that “it is commonplace to hear climate change identified as the single most important challenge facing humanity.” He pointed out that the United Nations’ website states that “climate change is the defining issue of our time, and we are at a defining moment.”
It truly seems to be our final prediction of doomsday… for now.
In the time of the Cold War, total nuclear destruction was our leading fear. At the beginning of the millennium, the Y2K bug caused mass apocalypse panic. But both times, the world didn’t end, and we can’t actually say it’s ending now.
Even stating that climate change is our most pressing issue is off-putting. Toadvine stated that this makes him uneasy because it pushes other world problems ­— racism, poverty, etc. — to the side and undermines them.
“With those whose lives, livelihoods and communities have been destroyed by extractive industries, by settler colonialism, by forced migration, by police violence, by the intersections of violence and oppression, whether they agree that climate change is the defining issue of our time, or that every available resource should be mobilized to maintain the world in its present form, [is] far from obvious to me,” Toadvine explained.
The double-edged sword is that the most vulnerable, “the poor, women, children, the elderly, communities of color, the displaced, the incarcerated,” Toadvine listed, are those who would suffer the most in the face of climate collapse.
Perhaps the reason the world is so ready to put this problem on the highest pedestal is that climate-based annihilation would affect everyone, even the most privileged. And there is undeniable proof that it is a very real threat.
According to Toadvine, studies have shown that we have already caused an irrevocably altered climate for at least the next millennium. And the list of consequences are catastrophic: rising sea levels, widespread famines, plagues, mass migration, unnatural weather changes; the list goes on and on.
But it’s not time to theorize and mourn our Earth’s destruction. It’s time to demand that action be taken.
Independent efforts against climate change — reducing your carbon footprint, installing solar panels, etc. ­— are very important, but unfortunately, not enough to resolve the issue alone.
“Climate change is like an ocean and every individual is putting an eyedropper in it,” Toadvine said. “Because the numbers are so huge, it can’t be solved by individuals.”
He compared the required solution for climate change to that of the issue of burning lead gasoline. Once the environmental effects were discovered, it wasn’t up to each individual driver to solve the problem, if they chose to, by installing a catalytic converter to their car. That wouldn’t be much help. Instead leaded gas became against the law (with some exceptions) and after a certain year, every car needed to have a catalytic converter.
“We had an institutional solution because it’s a collective problem,” Toadvine explained.
At the 2019 Climate Action Summit, UN Secretary-General António Guterres had a similar viewpoint, stating, “we need more concrete plans, more ambition from more countries and more businesses. We need all financial institutions, public and private, to choose, once and for all, the green economy.”
It’s time to focus on a collective solution to climate change. Because, after all, it doesn’t have to be the end of the world.