Wednesday, May 23, 2018

In new ''cli-fi trends'' column, an interview with gay, Jewish novelist [and NPR guest] Sam Miller about his cli-fi debut "Blackfish City"

In new ''cli-fi trends'' literary column, an interview with the gay, Jewish novelist [and NPR guest!] Sam Miller about his distant future cli-fi debut "Blackfish City."

SCOTT SIMON: The breaks is this disease that's eating into the society. I've got to get you to talk about that.
SAM MILLER: Sure. As a gay man of a certain age who came up in the sort of period when, you know, gay identity was inseparable from thinking about the specter of HIV/AIDS and where there was this sort of, for example, drummed into my head in health class that having gay sex would lead to you contracting a fatal illness and dying immediately - thinking about HIV/AIDS as this formative element of what we now think of as LGBTQIA identity and also as this sort of, like, incredibly crucial moment where communities came together and fought back in really powerful ways, and folks sort of, like, came together and forced treatment to be developed, forced political changes, forced a sort of sea change in how we think about things. And so I wanted to imagine a disease that could do some of those same things, that could - that was a terrifying nightmare, but that also served as a way to bring folks together and enabled them to sort of access power that they didn't know they had.
SIMON: You started out to be a butcher in Hudson, Nnew York...
MILLER: I did.
SIMON: Well, how do you get from that to this?
MILLER: Well, so I, you know, I was a third-generation Jewish meat butcher. My father was a second generation Jewish meat butcher. His father,my grandfather in Hudson, was also a Jewish meat butcher. Our family  ran a meat butcher shop in Hudson, but the butcher shop closed down when I was 16 when Walmart came to town and put us out of business. That's when I became a vegetarian. I couldn't bear to eat meat that had come from the people who had put us out of business. And so it was this very, you know, emotionally really difficult thing for my whole family, although in retrospect, I'm quite grateful for it because had the store never gone out of business, I might still be cutting meat and miserable in small-town Hudson, and would never have, for example, been able to come out of the closet, and move to New York City and write [my books]. I think this is a great opportunity to give my dad some real credit because he responded extremely well back in 1997 to the twin [''betrayals''] of my coming out as a gay man and as a vegetarian. But he was extremely good-natured about the whole thing.

Burning Worlds is Amy Brady’s monthly column 
dedicated to examining trends in climate fiction, or “cli-fi,” 
in partnership with Yale Climate Connections
For this month’s column, she spoke with Sam Miller, 
author of the new cli-fi novel Blackfish City. This book, 
like Kim Stanley Robinson’s New York 2140, looks to a 
future time when Earth has been ravaged 
by climate change and humanity is barely hanging on. 
But unlike Robinson, 
Miller imagines New York City long gone. 
In fact, most of the world’s epicenters are gone, 
and in their place is a new metropolis called Qaanaaq. 
It’s a floating city in the Arctic Circle, 
a last bastion of civilization after the so-called “Climate Wars.”


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