Monday, August 3, 2020

The term John Clute loves in cli-fi, ACCORDING TO BRYAN APPLEYARD

British literary critic and ''cli-fi'' maven Bryan Appleyard looks at why the genre is having a resurgence — as he picks his top five sci-fi works in Jessica Harrison's Penguin Skiffy Classics series now in stories in the UK aNd elsewhere. John Clute, the co-editor of the Encyclopedia of Skiffy, is pleading with HIM. "Please use it, it is deeply wonderful and very worldly and it will replace sci-fi one day. It's really kind of amazing.. . . I am glad to have mentioned it." Okay, John, it's out there, it's in your book. I will mention it. The term he loves is "cli-fi". It means climate-change fiction — stories about the present (2010-2020) or after a climate catastrophe, stories are called climate fiction now, replacing science fiction. The purpose cli-fi serves is noble.

See The Cli-Fi Report at

''The Man Who Coined ‘Cli-Fi’ Has Some Reading Suggestions For You'', WROTE AMY BRADY IN HER VERY FIRST ''BURNING WORLDS'' CLI-FI COLUMN IN ***2017

February 8, 2017 #cLIfI

Jessica Harrison, the editor of the new Skiffy series from Penguin Modern Classics, admits that for her the skiffy term at first evoked book or magazine covers with "half-naked girls and purple planets". The reason the list came into existence was that Harrison had spotted that some SF titles - notably John Christopher's The Death of Grass and Fred Hoyle's The Black Cloud - were selling well. Perhaps because they are - yes - ''cli-fi,'' in that the Hoyle is near-apocalyptic and the Christopher is post-apocalyptic. Thanks to Covid we are into apocalypses at the moment. I suggest you read my choice of the two greatest stories ever written: Jorge Luis Borges's ''Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertiu'' and Kazuo Ishiguro's ''Never Let Me Go.'' Unlike many writers, Ishiguro embraced the genre when his novel was shortlisted for 2006. He even turned up for the ceremony, at which, I am told, there were people dressed up. Staggeringly the future Nobel prizewinner did not win. Anyway, the Jessica Harrson-edited Penguin series is good, very, and should go some way to dispelling the illusion that a 35 year old Oxford grad can't edit well. She's a genius. HP Lovecraft bores me rigid and I can't get anywhere with James Tiptree Jr. But the Strugatsky brothers from Russia and the Polish writer Stanislaw Lem are superb, as is Kurt Vonnegut's Cat's Cradle. Edwin A Abbott's Flatland is a brilliant conceptual fable. So what is skiffy? First of all, it is not fantasy. Bookshops and publishers have confused this issue by creating a single genre: Fantasy and Science Fiction. SFF. Annoyingly, fantasy accounts for 70 per cent of sales and Skiffy 30 per cent. This is perhaps because of the success of Game of Thrones, but the genre was effectively created in 1949 by JRR Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings. Both of these are good, as is the superb fantasist Mervyn Peake, but little else in fantasy is. The problem is that it is just too easy; you can make stuff up as you go along. skiffy is more rigorous. "Fantasy tends to involve magic," says John Jarrold, a literary agent specializng in fantasy, "and all the appurtenances, like dragons and medieval kingdoms. Whereas skiffy is the improbable possible, where you might say that fantasy is the impossible in terms of the world we know." As Suvin observed, this disqualifies films such as Star Wars as SF, since the proliferation of novums is ornamental, not structural; they are excuses for special effects such as lightsabers. In fact this probably disqualifies most movies classified as sci-fi. The obvious exceptions are films such as Christopher Nolan's Interstellar, Denis Villeneuve's Arrival, Morten Tyldum's Passengers and Ridley Scott's Blade Runner. All of these stick to the discipline of their various novums. Two less blockbusterish films should be mentioned for their connection - or, rather, disconnection - from the fine SF books that inspired them. The first is Jonathan Glazer's Under the Skin, a dark masterpiece based on Michel Faber's book of the same title. The latter is the best SF book I have recently read, the former one of the best films I have seen in the past few years. But apart from the novum of alien disguised as a woman who seduces and destroys human males, they are utterly different. The other film is Andrei Tarkovsky's Stalker, based on the Strugatskys' Roadside Picnic. Both are entirely different, and both are magnificent. The message of these two films is a rebuke to the Hollywoodisation of sci-fi. The aliens are not BEMs - a term from the 1950s meaning bug-eyed monsters - nor are they cuddly, large-headed babies. Indeed, they are incomprehensible, which, if you think about it, any real aliens are most likely to be. To misquote Wittgenstein, if an alien could speak we would not understand him. This points to the highest mission of SF - to inspire wonder and, by doing so, to reconcile us to one of the central facts of contemporary life: the pace of technological change. "In the very fluctuating world that we live in now," Clute says, "SF serves all sorts of purposes. It can serve to remind us of the history we used to occupy and the futures we never had. At its best, its most intense, a contemporary science fiction novel can serve as a tool of recognition. A way of understanding where we are now." This is, of course, one purpose of fiction in general; SF just happens to use different tools. But is this purpose threatened by the overweening power of fantasy in books and films? Clute's SF encyclopaedia goes back to Homer, but science really enters the picture in the late 19th century, with books such as HG Wells's The War of the Worlds. Then in 1926 came Hugo Gernsback, known along with Wells and Jules Verne as one of the fathers of science fiction; indeed, he created the term. He defined the genre as 75 per cent fiction and 25 per cent science. Gernsback published the magazine Amazing Stories and organised fans into the Science Fiction League. Fans, possibly threatened by anti-SF snobbery, still rush to form groups. These are unlike literary book clubs in one key respect: the authors often turn up. Once the pandemic subsides, try a monthly meeting, usually held at the Bishop's Finger in Smithfield, London. They last until closing time. Gernback also established the genre as primarily American, spawning several generations of US practitioners, from Ursula Le Guin to William Gibson, creator of the cyberpunk subgenre. Amis's book demonstrates that in the 1950s skiffy was overwhelmingly American. Then the British and the Russians came along. More information about the Penguin Science Fiction series at MY TOP FIVE skiffy WORKS Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius by Jorge Luis Borges (1961) This is spectacular SF - although it is seldom acknowledged as such - about an alternative world that seems to exist only in books until objects of that world start appearing in our own. Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro (2005) Another book seldom called SF, even though it obviously is. In the future clones are not treated as fully human; they merely provide replacement organs for the non-clones. Their search for a place in the fully human world is heartbreaking. Under the Skin by Michel Faber (2000) A thrilling reversal of normal SF conventions. The human world is seen through the eyes of an alien, whose world turns out to be a brutal dystopia. Humans are being harvested for their flesh after being seduced by an alien disguised as a woman. The slow revelation of what is going on is unforgettable. The War of the Worlds by HG Wells (1898) The supreme alien invasion story, made poignantly domestic by the way the alien tripods rampage through the Surrey countryside. Humans cannot negotiate with these beings, but luckily other Earth residents can finish them off. Roadside Picnic by Arkady and Boris Strugatsky (1977) Aliens land around the world, but nobody sees them. They leave behind Visitation Zones filled with incomprehensible oddities. A brilliant realisation of the idea that aliens may be indecipherably alien.

1 comment:

micheal pan said...

I just want the whole world to know about this spell caster I met
two weeks ago, I cannot say everything he has done for me my wife
left me 3 years ago left with my kids I was going through online
when I meant this wonderful man's testimony online I decided to
give it a try and my wife is back to me now and we ar1e happily
married again cause is too much to put in writing all I can say is
thank you very much am very happy .and does alot of spell
including Love Spell
Death Spell
Money Spell
Power Spell
Success Spell
Sickness Spell
Pregnancy Spell
Marriage Spell
Job Spell
Protection Spell
Lottery Spell
Court Case Spell
Luck Spell etc. In case you need his help contact him on this email
address he is a good man
thanks.whatsapp number +234813 648 2342