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A Companion


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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Jeanette Winterson’s The Stone Gods (2007) – Postmodern Cli-Fi (Louise Squire)


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Louise Squire

Jeanette Winterson’s The Stone Gods (2007)

Jeanette Winterson’s The Stone Gods1 makes a literary adventure of climate change whilst raising some questions for reader contemplation. Will we learn from our mistakes, or will we just keep on making the same ones over and again? Is a change of direction for humanity possible? This chapter explores The Stone Gods from the perspective of its imagery of death-denial, depicted as the root cause of environmental crisis. The novel reflects on a notion of death that is denied and yet which rebounds upon us, depicting humanity as caught in a time-loop of error. Humanity, in The Stone Gods, will do anything to stave off aging and death, even if this leads to the destruction of that which is fundamental to survival: our planetary home. The question is: how might we intervene in this seemingly eternal cycle of human folly to create a different kind of future?

The novel is comprised of three distinct yet interlinking stories, which together form reiterating patterns of character, theme and plot. Spike (aka Spikkers) and narrator Billie (aka Billy) are central to the storyline each time, their same-gender, android-human lives entangling across different manifestations, different lives and different worlds. The first story, Planet Blue, is set on Orbus and tells of a failed attempt to relocate humanity to a new planet, the pristine Planet Blue; the second, Easter Island, sweeps back to the 1700s where the island’s...

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