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Saturday, September 8, 2018
Katy Waldman on ''How “Cli-Fi” Forces Us to Confront the Incipient Death of the Planet''
A nice essay by Katy Waldman at The New Yorker on "Warmer," a new collection of 7 short ''cli-fi'' stories about climate change. Stories include one by Jane Smiley about a horse who "befriends one of the last surviving humans in a lush equinocracy bounded by wasteland."
Link to New York magazine:
How Climate-Change Fiction, or “Cli-Fi,” Forces Us to Confront the Incipient Death of the Planet
As part of its ongoing “Original Stories” series, Amazon has assembled a collection of climate-change fiction, or cli-fi, bringing a literary biodiversity to bear on the defining crisis of the era. This online compilation of seven short stories, called “Warmer”—containing work from a Pulitzer Prize winner (Jane Smiley) and two National Book Award finalists (Lauren Groff and Jess Walter), among others—offers ways of thinking about something we desperately do not want to think about: the incipient death of the planet.
There is something counterintuitive about cli-fi, about the fictional representation of scientifically substantiated predictions that too many people discount as fictions. The genre, elsewhere exemplified by Margaret Atwood’s MaddAddam Trilogy and Nathaniel Rich’s “Odds Against Tomorrow,” brings disaster forcefully to life. But it is a shadowy mirror. Literature has always been a humanist endeavor: it intrinsically and helplessly affirms the value of the species; its intimations of meaning energize and comfort. But what if there is scant succor to be had, and our true natures are not noble but necrotic, pestilential? We have ''un-earthed'' ourselves. Yet we claim the right to gaze at our irresponsibility and greed through fiction’s tonic filter. The stories in “Warmer,” which possess the urgency of a last resort and the sorrow of an elegy, inhabit this contradiction. They both confront and gently transfigure the incomprehensible realities of climate change.