Just in case you missed it, we ran a post last Tuesday, May 28, by Dan Bloom, a freelance journalist based in Taiwan who’s also an occasional TeleRead contributor. Bloom’s post centered around a relatively recent literary term—’cli-fi,’ short for ‘climate fiction’—which Bloom himself claims to have coined back in 2007. The term refers to a subgenre of science fiction in which horrific futures are imagined as a result of environmental disasters.
Bloom has written about the climate fiction subgenre for TeleRead in the past, and his posts always seem to attract their fair share of detractors and ridicule.
So we were naturally very pleased to see that Rodge Glass, writing about Bloom’s latest TeleRead post for The Guardian‘s culture desk, approached the subject with both respect and an open mind.
“Whereas 10 or 20 years ago it would have been difficult to identify even a handful of books that fell under [the cli-fi] banner,” Glass writes, “there is now a growing corpus of novels setting out to warn readers of possible environmental nightmares to come.”
Here, Glass offers a handy roundup of contemporary novels—some well-known, and some not—that he considers worthy of the cli-fi title, even going so far as to dub Margaret Atwood “perhaps the most high-profile cli-fi author… ”
Barbara Kingsolver’s Flight Behaviour, the story of a forest valley filled with an apparent lake of fire, is shortlisted for the 2013 Women’s prize for fiction. Meanwhile, there’s Nathaniel Rich’s Odds Against Tomorrow, set in a future New York, about a mathematician who deals in worst-case scenarios. In Liz Jensen’s 2009 eco-thriller The Rapture, summer temperatures are asphyxiating and Armageddon is near; her most recent book, The Uninvited, features uncanny warnings from a desperate future. Perhaps the most high-profile cli-fi author is Margaret Atwood, whose 2009 The Year of the Flood features survivors of a biological catastrophe also central to her 2003 novel Oryx and Crake, a book Atwood sometimes preferred to call “speculative fiction”.