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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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Jostein Gaarder’s The World According to Anna (2013/2015) – Didactic Cli-Fi (Reinhard Hennig)

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Reinhard Hennig

Jostein Gaarder’s The World According to Anna (2013/2015)

In the original Norwegian version, the subtitle of Jostein Gaarder’s novel The World According to Anna is En fabel om klodens klima og miljø [A Fable about the Planet’s Climate and Environment], which points to the work’s central theme of anthropogenic environmental and climatic change. The novel’s main character is a 16-year-old girl named Anna Nyrud living in southern Norway in the year 2012, at a time when the first effects of global warming are already noticeable. Anna frequently has dreams in which she sees the world of the year 2082 through the eyes of her own great-granddaughter Nova. In Nova’s time, global warming has led to highly detrimental changes in the climate and ecosystems worldwide. The central question to which Anna, inspired by these dreams, tries to find an answer is how this future scenario can be prevented from becoming a reality.

On the surface, it may seem that the novel takes a rather nostalgic, mournful approach to climate change and its consequences. Nova finds it ‘sad’ and ‘tragic’ that many species have gone extinct at her time and thinks that the planet has lost its former beauty, while the aged Anna (appearing as Nova’s great-grandmother in the dreams), feels ‘deep sorrow’ and ‘remorse’ over the environmental and climatic degradation that has happened without her having done enough to prevent it.1

However, this mourning only pertains to the...

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