The literary genre climate fiction is commonly known as Cli-Fi. The narratives deal with climate-change and global warming, although not necessarily speculative in nature the narratives center on the world as we know it or in the near future. In essence it is an off-shoot of eco-fiction addressing the effects of climate change in short stories or novels.
Although the term “cli-fi” came into use in the late 2000s to describe novels dealing with man-made climate change, it is certainly not a ‘new’ literary topic as natural disasters have been themes to novels in the past. For example Jules Verne’s The Purchase of the North Pole in 1889 relates to a change due to the Earth’s axis tilting. His Paris in the Twentieth Century, written in 1883, relays a sudden drop in temperature lasting three years in a titular city. J.G. Ballard used persistent hurricane-force winds in The Wind from Nowhere in 1961 and melted ice-caps and rising sea-levels caused by solar radiation in The Drowned World in 1962 (somewhat of a prophecy!)
This genre has grown as scientific knowledge of the effects of fossil fuel consumption and resulting increase in atmospheric CO2 concentrations has become the global warming phenomenon.
Other novels include Susan M. Gaine’s Carbon Dreams, Michael Crichton’s State of Fear, Margaret Atwood’s Oryx & Crake, the Year of the Flood and MaddAddam.
Have you written Cli-fi?
Did you know of this genre before today?
My recent escape from the Albertan cold to the heat of Palm Springs was a real delight in many ways. Of course the first pleasure was to experience summer warmth again, after weeks of freezing temperatures and snow fall. It amazed me how quickly a person can become accustomed to a black and white world. The brilliance of lush greenery was a real shock to my senses, making me consider how little time had really past since I had enjoyed summer and its abundance. Is the cycle of seasons so ingrained our seasonal memory can be replaced so quickly?
In no time I was back to ‘summer’ mode, lying poolside, walking in T-shirt & shorts and drinking cooling drinks. Hiking along the canyon listening to the burbling water, I wanted to splash through it to ease my over heated skin, far removed from the news from home of heavy snowfall and sub-zero temperatures.
The most jarring spectacle was seeing Christmas decorations emblazoned on palm trees and their shimmering light bouncing off lawns glistening with water. Homes were festooned with white and coloured lights, Christmas trees stood in living room windows but their reflections came from swimming pools and green lawns. It just didn’t ‘feel’ like Christmas, somehow it wasn’t right.
I soon became accustomed to the sound of automated irrigation sprays the means by which, this oasis of green maintains its lushness, albeit ‘fake’. It is only a short drive before the arid and seemingly barren landscape is found surrounding the city. However, if you walk slowly and quietly you will find treasurers, such as tiny lizards, multi-coloured butterflies and iridescent humming-birds populating the sharp twisted bushes and cacti. There is beauty in any landscape you just have to look.
On my return to Alberta I experienced +20 degrees on take-off and -20 degrees on arrival after a short three hour flight – now that’s an unwelcome shock to the system! Obviously at that moment I longed for the heat but for a proper Christmas, home does have the snowy wonderland look as well as some awesome winter visitors.
Do you prefer the winter wonderland or the tropical escape for your festival?