cli-fidelityAcross the Pond, in the UK, British novelist Peter Romilly recently released his second novel with a climate theme, this one titled [easyazon-link asin=”B00H7F33PA” locale=”us”]Cli-Fidelity[/easyazon-link]— and the punning title is worth the price of admission alone. It’s on Kindle and ready to read, he told me in a recent email.

While his first novel, titled 500 Parts Per Million, was about the dangers of climate change and global warming, and we’ve now reached the 400 PPM mark in regard to parts per million of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere of Mother Earth, Cli-Fidelity is a cautionary tale about a nuclear reactor that’s underwater, tethered to the sea bed.

“It’s a tale of climate instability, a world where four people try to survive whatever the extreme weather throws at them,” Romilly said.

When I asked him how he came about choosing the winning title for his novel, Romilly said: “I thought long and hard about the book title, and kept coming back to the idea of having ‘cli’ (for climate) in it, because a major theme of the book is about trying to preserve climate stability. But I couldn’t think of anything suitable, then one day I thought of the following progression from the new literary genre called ‘cli-fi.’ So I settled on hi-fi, or hi-fidelity (as in sound quality), and felt that using ‘cli-fidelity’ (as in staying faithful to the goal of climate stability) would work well.”

In fact, the idea for the title is explained in the first chapter one by one of the main characters, a French professor, who says to some dinner guests one night: “Project Cli-Fidelite has been an outstanding success, and it’s helped France produce cheap, reliable energy and stay faithful to our policy of stabilizing the climate. Nuclear power generation emits no carbon dioxide, so no global warming. How many countries can say that?”

But not everyone believes the professor is going down the right road on this. Read the novel to find out how it ends.

The title is great title for a book, and sure to catch some media attention as well. Novels with punning titles can either work well or fall flat on their covers. Among my finds online I spotted:

[easyazon-link asin=”B002VNFN8I” locale=”us”]First Among Sequels[/easyazon-link]
by Jasper Fforde

[easyazon-link asin=”B006KDTLX8″ locale=”us”]We’ll Always Have Parrots[/easyazon-link]
by Donna Andrews

[easyazon-link asin=”B002WJM55K” locale=”us”]Sticks & Scones[/easyazon-link]
by Diane Mott Davidson

For more punning titles


  1. A good term for this sort of literature is Wellsian, since H. G. Wells pioneered it.

    Think of classic Wells science fiction, and you’re talking almost exclusively about books he wrote before 1900. He’s lousy with characters. Even then Wells saw people as mere tools for his ideas. But he does come up with whopping good plots that are still read today.

    Beginning with Anticipations in 1901 Wells changed. He began to push a political agenda–a World State rule by a select, scientific elite. In a 1941 article called, “Wells, Hitler and the World State,” George Orwell wrote of him:

    “If one looks through nearly any book that [Wells] has written in the last forty years one finds the same idea constantly recurring: the supposed antithesis between the man of science who is working towards a planned World State and the reactionary who is trying to restore a disorderly past. In novels, utopias, essays, films, pamphlets, the antithesis crops up, always more or less the same. On the one side science, order, progress, internationalism, aeroplanes, steel, concrete, hygiene; on the other side war, nationalism, religion, monarchy, peasants, Greek professors, poets, horses.”

    The result were a series of books that were much commented on at the time but almost forgotten today. In them, Wells searched desperately for some clique who’d bend the world in the way he wanted: industrialists, airman who’d bomb anyone who didn’t obey, even a Hitler-like figure. Sometimes a crisis or a natural event plays a role, such as the earth passing through the tale of a comet. But as Orwell notes, the goal was always the same, a select, scientific few acquiring boots and whips and forcing the rest of us to do as they dictate forever. Science was to become the New Nobility.

    In general the literature, as fiction or allegedly non-fiction, creates some sort of crisis that propels the rest of us to put our lives in the hands of these thugs in white coats. And that pattern, like the shift in Wells himself, starts about 1900. Shortly after that you find a host of threats, often advanced by distinguished scientists from prominent universities: The early ones were about biology: Race Suicide, Yellow Peril, the Menace of the Feebleminded and eugenics. With the Great Depression, the emphasis shifted to economic and the need for top-down command economies, whether fascist (like our New Deal) or Marxist. Again, the goal was a few controlling the many.

    Since the sixties, the emphasis has shifted to environmental: the Population Bomb, resource depletion, a New Ice Age, and now global warming which has morphed into hysterical muddle about Climate Change, as if climate wasn’t always changing. Those who deny are demonized as are those who suggest sensible, non-intrusive solutions because the real agenda is a scientific few controlling the many. That’s why nuclear can’t be used to solve carbon release. It’s non-intrusive. It leaves people alone. Ditto building sea walls to handle a rise in sea levels measured in inches or a warming that, in reality, means we run our heating systems a few days less in winter and our cooling systems a few days longer in the summer.

    The answer is always the same. The danger is great and the only answer is some sort of global scheme run by a scientific, bureaucratic elite. The fact that every one of these alleged threats has proved bogus and that many were shown to be so even while they were being trumpeted hasn’t stopped them from repeating, again and again.

    The media never catches on. They never do. Hysteria sells. The scientific community never learns either. Good scientists tend to be too narrow and specialized to understand how science is being abused this way.

    Science has also failed to come up with the proper ways to deal with those who advance nasty agendas in the name of science. At most, they just slip from the center of media spotlight into the shadows. No one is every punished. Scientists never learns the dangers of those who have politicized it. Being a scientist apparently means you never have to say you’re sorry.

    For those who’re interested, I deal with this in great detail, quoting original sources, in The Pivot of Civilization in Historical Perspective. There my emphasis is on that early biology-focused era, particularly eugenics and the birth control movement. It’s available in print, but you can also find it free through Google Books.

    And yes, for everyone that knows what’s really going on, there are perhaps a hundred silly people who think the danger is real and that the solutions are well-intentioned. There have also been a number of writer-critics of these schemes over the past century. Wells’ perennial foe, G. K. Chesterton, blasted eugenics in his 1922 Eugenics and Other Evils. C. S. Lewis’s third sci-fi novel, That Hideous Strength attacks it and even has an H. G. Wells figure. More recently, a number of Michael Crichton’s later books attack the environmental hysteria.

    For a writer, there’s a moral choice involved. You can take the path of later Wells and write to the hysteria-of-the-day. You’ll be puffed for a few years, go some harm to human freedom, and then be forgotten as the hysteria moves on to something else. Or you can be a critic of the hysteria, get bad-mouthed in the present, and write a book that people will still read far into the future. I’ve published an edition of Chesterton’s Eugenics and Other Evils and, although it’s almost a century old, it still sells well. The same can’t be said of any book Wells wrote after 1900.

    You can also counter the crypto-totalitarian madness by writing romantic fantasy like Tolkien. As you might tell from that Orwell quote, the opposite of a world run by a few politicized scientists are rousing good tales about, “war, nationalism, religion, monarchy, peasants, Greek professors, poets, horses.” Make your heroes ordinary people, perhaps helped a bit by wizards or the like.

    –Michael W. Perry, Inkling Books

  2. A valid commentary, save for the reference to ‘writing romantic fantasy’. Tolkien spent much of his life living on the edge of the rapidly-urbanising Midlands and his despair at the destruction of England’s green and pleasant land is reflected in his books. Not quite ‘cli-fi’, but he certainly wrote about environmental change. Maybe Saruman and his factories representated Tolkien’s own thoughts on politicized scientists…

  3. Dear TeleRead editors,
    Many thanks for running news about my novel ”Cli-Fidelity” in your TeleRead piece. I’ll try and respond to the (very long!) comment by Michael Perry at a later stage. It seems to me that spreading the word about climate change through fiction is now even more important because mainstream TV news channels in the UK (and probably in the US) appear afraid to mention it, even as our UK coastlines are battered by more intense floods and storms.
    I did a short blog on my website about this that your readers might be interested in:

    Or google me at “Peter Romilly”.

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