by Vomisa Caasi
A literary genre can be a showcase for just about anything these days it seems. SFF novels will take you through all kind of fantasy worlds and science fiction sagas. Chick-Lit features strong female protagonists with stories that appeal to women in search of novels with strong female characters. Lab-lit deals with scientists and lab technicians working in, you guessed it, modern scientific, psychology or sociology labs. And a relative new genre dubbed solarpunk envisions positive, optimistic futures using solar power to transform the world into a more equal and sustainable place.
Now comes cli-fi, a rising new literary genre for the 21st century that has been slowly gaining traction among literary critics, authors and readers. Short for ''climate change fiction,'' cli-fi has a Wikipendia page and a dedicated website now and publishers (and Hollywood producers) are paying attention. With this genre, Earth just might survive, or not, depending on how the stories go.
Some of utopian, some are dystopian, and some are just plain page-turners of the cli-fi kind.
There's even a website and a portal for cli-fi now, titled The Cli-Fi Report, at www.cli-fi.net
The genre has no founder and no spokesman, and there's no school of cli-fi and no cli-fi canon. It's write as you write and read as you read. Nobody owns the genre and nobody controls it. A publicist for the genre does spend an inordinate amount of time doing PR chores and connecting with media sites and reporters. But he mostly keeps a low profile and let's the genre speak for itself.
"The purpose of cli-fi is two-fold," says a spokesman online. "One, it's a platform for writers around the world to use to place their stories about global warming and climate change, from whatever point of view they choose to tell them. And two, it's a place for readers and literary critics to congregate and absorb what the writes are creating."
"With this new genre, might it just save the Earth and future generations of humans? No genre can save the Earth, and however man-made global warming plays out, it's far beyond what any novel or movie can do," the spokesman adds. "
So no, cli-fi is not going to save the Earth. But the stories that are being told and that will be told in the next 100 years might very well help us prepare for what is coming down the road. It's that vital, it's that important. It's not an escapist genre, and it's not for distraction or entertainment. It's a dead serious literary genre with a high calling, and how it plays out over the next few dozen decades will be a vital link in our relationship to the future. If we survive beyond the next 500 years, that is."
''As more and more publishers and Hollywood producers pick up cli-fi novels for publication and adaptation to movies, the rising new genre may very well play an important role in helping prepare future generations for what's coming as the Earth warms beyond its limits and beyond 400 parts of million of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere," the spokesman says. "Then again, cli-fi just might go nowhere and lead nowhere. If we as a species are doomed, then no literary genre is going to save us. But art and literature can help raise the alarm and prepare us for what's coming for our descendants 30 generations from now."