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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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Kim Stanley Robinson’s Science in the Capitol Trilogy (2004–2007) – Science and Politics in Cli-Fi (Chris Pak)

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Chris Pak

Kim Stanley Robinson’s Science in the Capitol Trilogy (2004–2007)

Forty Signs of Rain, Fifty Degrees Below and Sixty Days and Counting (the Science in the Capitol trilogy)1 explore the relationship between science and politics in addressing climate change. They examine how institutions generate scientific knowledge that informs our understanding of Earth’s physical systems, how transforming these systems causes disruptions that are unevenly distributed amongst global communities and how politics mobilizes or circumvents responses to climate change. Robinson is concerned with solutions to the disastrous climate events portrayed and, to that end, the narrative considers issues relevant to sustainability and permaculture, geo-engineering (the adaptation of Earth’s planetary climate), rewilding (the restoration of species now extinct in their original habitats, or completely extinct worldwide) and genetically modified organisms. These scientific and often speculative themes are complemented with a social and economic critique of capitalism as a primary source of climate disruption. The narrative considers how socially and politically engaged scientists, working within established institutions and in alliance with political leaders, might devise and implement multi-levelled solutions to address the climate crisis. ← 103 | 104 →

The trilogy traces the transformations visited upon America as the climate crisis worsens, portraying the uneven repercussions for those living in the USA and secondarily on global communities. The first novel opens with a meeting between one protagonist, Anna Quibler, and representatives from the fictional island nation Khembalung, displaced Tibetans who petition the US government for...

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