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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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Antti Tuomainen’s The Healer (2013) – Nordic Crime Cli-Fi (Lieven Ameel)

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Lieven Ameel

Antti Tuomainen’s The Healer (2013)

Antti Tuomainen’s The Healer (2013) is set in a near-future Helsinki where climate change is wreaking havoc both in the Finnish capital and abroad. Incessant rain and floods are the most visible climate change-related curses in Tuomainen’s Helsinki, but there is also news of global pandemics, destructive forest fires and water wars. Society is breaking down, and amidst the radical upheaval, a serial killer, the eponymous ‘Healer’ − the ‘healer for a sick planet’ – is murdering people he holds responsible for accelerating climate change.1 The plot revolves around the endeavours of the protagonist, the Finnish poet Tapani Lehtinen, to find his lost wife Johanna, who has been investigating the murders as a journalist. As Tapani learns more about the mysterious Healer, he also makes unexpected discoveries about the past of his wife, who turns out to have known the Healer intimately. In his journey through flooded Helsinki, Tapani guides the reader on a tour of how different areas in the city, as well as different affected citizens, are coping with the dramatic changes.

The novel won the most prestigious crime fiction prize in Finland and is one of the most widely translated contemporary Finnish novels to date. It is routinely mentioned in international climate fiction research.2 In Finland, however, the author is mainly known as a crime fiction writer, and the novel has received little academic attention. The novel can be positioned also within the...

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