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Cli-Fi

A Companion

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Edited By Axel Goodbody and Adeline Johns-Putra

What is Cli-Fi?

Climate change fiction is a new literary phenomenon that emerged at the turn of the twenty-first century in response to what may be society’s greatest challenge. Climate change is already part responsible for extreme weather events, flooding, desertification and sea level rise, leading to famine, the spread of disease, and population displacement. Cli-fi novels and films are typically set in the future, telling of disaster and its effect on humans, or they depict the present, beset by dilemmas, conflicts or conspiracies, and pointing to grave consequences. At their heart are ethical and political questions: will humankind rise to the challenge of acting collectively, in the interest of the future? What sacrifices will be necessary, and is a green dictatorship our only hope for survival as a species?

Each chapter in this volume offers a way of reading a particular literary text or film, drawing attention to themes, formal features, reception, contribution to public debate, and issues for class discussion. Popular novels and films (Kim Stanley Robinson’s Science in the Capitol trilogy, Michael Crichton’s State of Fear, Ian McEwan’s Solar, and The Day after Tomorrow) are examined alongside lesser known writing (for instance J. G. Ballard’s «proto-climate change» novel The Drowned World and Antti Tuomainen’s Finnish thriller, The Healer), and films not generally thought of as being about climate change (Frozen and Take Shelter).

The book, which includes an introduction tracing the emergence and influence of cli-fi, is directed towards general readers and film enthusiasts as well as teachers and students. Written in an accessible style, it fills the gap between academic studies and online blogs, offering a comprehensive look at this timely new genre.

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Ignacio Brandão’s And Still the Earth (1981) – Political Cli-Fi (Mark Anderson)

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Mark Anderson

Ignacio Brandão’s And Still the Earth (1981)

Ignacio de Loyola Brandão’s And Still the Earth: An Archival Narration represents an anomaly within the history of Brazilian fiction.1 While Brazil has a rich satirical tradition dating back to the nineteenth century, it is better known for its utopian nationalism rooted in visions of exuberant tropical abundance than the kind of acerbic, dystopian sci-fi that Loyola Brandão deploys in And Still the Earth. For the unsuspecting reader, then, the first chapter title is quite shocking: ‘The Sirens Wail Nonstop All Night Long. But Worse Than the Sirens Was the Ship Which Sank as the Children’s Heads Exploded’.2 This horroristic scene sets the tone for the novel, which contrasts the drudgery of daily survival under military dictatorship in post-apocalyptic environmental conditions with fragmented, indeterminate memories (such as the sinking ship, on which the narrator’s two-year-old son may or may not have died) and the instability of constant crises of every kind and scale. Rather than responding to these intensifying crises proactively, Souza, the middle-class protagonist narrator, and Adelaide, his wife, prefer to maintain their daily routines, which are ordered almost entirely by the state, with a minimum of disruption. However, the crises eventually reach a breaking point and their domestic world slowly collapses. By the end of the novel, Adelaide has disappeared and Souza ends up homeless, packed with millions of others staving off almost certain death from lethal heat beneath...

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