Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Taiwanese film director 蕭雅全 [Hsaio Ya-Quan] came to Chiayi in February 2017 for a 30-day location shoot for "在一個死亡之後" ("Father to Son"): RELEASE DATE FALL 2018

 Taiwanese film director 蕭雅全 [Hsaio Ya-Quan] came to Chiayi in February 2017 for a 30-day location shoot for "在一個死亡之後" ("Father to Son") set to release in Asia in October 2018, next fall....

I'm over the moon on this one!

If you are into dystopian cli-fi for young adults (YA), here's a very good debut novel that will be part of series. My partner liked it, so there’s that. And only her, I did, too! For more on cli-fi, YA and adults, see ''The Cli-Fi'' Report online. I'm over the moon on this one!

A YA novel titled MOON by Michelle Harrington, details at

Coffee chat with Cat Sparks - author of Lotus Blue (Part 2)
Last week I hosted award-winning fiction author and former magazine editor and manager, Cat Sparks into my vitual café. She had so much to discuss about climate change fiction that I decided to split the coffee chat into two parts.

Here is a link to PART ONE.


DL: I can't help thinking that reports on climate change are something world leaders are treating as indifferently as an annual health check up. Like they can't see the damage so why change their habits now, or they're waiting until they have a heart attack to do something about it. I'd also like to think that maybe it'd take a major disaster to wake them up, but major disasters are already happening. Do you think climate change fiction will play a role in inciting today's generation into demanding that our leaders do something? And what do you think is the biggest threat for the world right now?

CAT: There have been notable incidences where fiction impacted strongly enough on readers in the past, enough to change views about the world and initiate a call to action. Two examples: Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring (1962) is generally credited with kick starting the modern environmental movement. It’s a non-fiction book that utilises the device of an embedded science fiction story, “A Fable for Tomorrow.”  
Neville Shute’s best-seller On the Beach is said to have influenced Kennedy and definitely inspired many to anti-nuclear protest, both the book and film versions. Dr Helen Caldicott, then a 19-year-old medical student, credits the film as the catalyst which radicalised her into a lifetime of anti-nuclear activism.

The biggest threat to the world right now is complacency, particularly in the West, where so many of us lead soft, comfortable high-consumption lives. Most of us alive today are too young to have struggled through war rationing and the Great Depression& we’re used to thinking we deserve anything we can pay for. We trust in capitalism as some kind of protecting entity. We work and we buy stuff – that is how it has always been. Except that it hasn’t. History abounds with examples of societies who didn’t face up to the need for change, with dire consequences. Unfortunately, I don’t believe much of our society is going to change until cataclysmic events start affecting large numbers of middle class white people.

Complexity theory suggests that when societies develop beyond a certain point, collapse is inevitable. I don’t know if this is true, but I do know that parts of the world are going to become uninhabitable much sooner than we think. That hundreds of millions of people will be forced to move and globally we do not have a good track record of dealing with masses of displaced people.

Prof Brian Cox has expressed the opinion “if we can get through the next couple of decades and we begin to move off the planet, I think that then secures our future.” That’s quite a challenge. What will happen to us if we don’t?

As Bill McKibben says, “We’re under attack from climate change—and our only hope is to mobilize like we did in WWII.”

I completely agree with that. Plus, the old Cold War nuclear threat is back on the table. There are at least 15,000 nukes out there – and at least two world leaders who might actually be crazy enough to use them. And then there’s all those other threats: weaponised pathogens, unregulated synthetic biology, artificial intelligence, autonomous combat weaponry, computer hacking, terrorism, species extinctions, antibiotic resistance, religious fundamentalism and the widening gap between rich and poor. We have never had a wider and more varied array of methods by which we could sterilise this planet.

DL: For anyone interested in writing ''cli-fi'' or including climate change in their world building, I thought I'd ask these next few questions. What is the biggest myth or lie on climate change being pushed at the moment? Who is pushing the lie? And what would these people gain by continuing this lie?

CAT: We could eventually find ourselves in the situation where pretty much all realistic fiction is climate fiction by default. As Margaret Atwood says, it’s not climate change, it’s everything change.

The biggest lie is that Climate Change is not an existential threat. That it isn’t such a big deal, that it’s something likely to affect other people somewhere else. That the rich will be able to bunker down and somehow manage to continue business as usual. That we are not risking everything we have.
That continued dependence on fossil fuels will not have devastating consequences. People who make big money out of fossil fuel dependence are the ones holding back the sustainability revolution. The necessary technology to transition to renewables already exists and is being improved upon all the time – and there’s loads of money to be made in it. But the disruption to traditional financial infrastructures and power bases will be immense.

My view? When all the life known to exist in the entire universe is concentrated on one small blue planet, we are obliged to take that situation very seriously and behave accordingly.

It seems idiotic to have to point this out, but the last humans left standing should this planet has been reduced to a smoking ruin, will not be classifiable as “winners,” no matter what treasures they’ve manage to stuff into their underground bunkers.

DL:  And lastly, are you a biscuit or cake kind of person? And what is your favourite biscuit/cake?

CAT: I like biscuits AND cake! In fact, the only cake I don't like is pavlova. My favourite cake would be a toss-up between lemon tart and Portugese tart. Never met a biscuit I didn’t like.

DL: Thank so much to Cat for sharing information about climate change and how it translates into fiction.

Cat Sparks is a multi-award-winning Australian author, editor, and artist, whose former employment includes media monitor, political and archaeological photographer, graphic designer, Fiction Editor for Cosmos Magazine, and Manager of Agog! Press. A 2012 Australian Council grant sent her to Florida to participate in Margaret Attwood's The time Machine Doorway workshop. she's currently finishing a PhD in climate change fiction. Her short story collection "The Bride Price" was published in 2013. her debut novel "Lotus Blue" was published by Talos Press, an imprint of Skyhorse Publishing, in 2017.

Two British novelists debut their cli-fi novels this month

Dr Abi Curtis, who heads up the creative writing programme, is already an award-winning poet and now she has added her debut novel, ''Water & Glass'', to her literary portfolio.
Published by Cloud Lodge Books, her cli-fi novel explores the impact of environmental disasters on our world.
Her protagonist, zoologist Nerissa Crane has been chosen to attend to a horde of animals kept in the lower desks of The Baleen, a massive submarine designed to save specially selected humans and animals from catastrophic, world-wide floods.
Her job is to care for her charges and not ask questions. The ship is manned by an unseen crew and policed by sweet-talking stewards.
In her attempts to recover the escaped creature, Nerissa’s explorations of the odd submarine society of the upper levels opens her eyes to the sacrifices humans will make in the face of ecological chaos and the lengths they will go to survive.
 Dr Naomi Booth, a senior lecturer in creative writing has published a cli-fi horror novel exploring the darkness of paranoias in her debut novel, ''Sealed. ''
It is described as a gripping modern fable on motherhood, a terrifying portrait of ordinary people under threat from their own bodies and from the world around them. With elements of speculative fiction and the macabre, this is also an unforgettable story about a mother’s fight to survive.
“The environment is inseparable from our bodies," she said. "I’m fascinated by the implications that lie within that knowledge, by the idea that in the end, there are factors we simply can’t control, and these are the things that haunt us."
The pair will be reading from their debut novels and discussing dystopia, motherhood, climate change and creative writing from 7pm tomorrow evening in the Coney Street store. The event is sold out, but there is a waiting list or may be 'no shows' on the night.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

DRAMA: Cli-fi farce staged on stage at DeBartolo Performing Arts Center in Indiana

Cli-fi farce staged on stage at DeBartolo
    • File Art - Entertainment - Theater Stage
      Thinkstock Photo
      SOUTH BEND, Indiana — Chicago’s Runaways Lab Theater recently staged Joyelle McSweeney’s “Dead Youth, or, the Leaks,”at the University of Notre Dame’s DeBartolo Performing Arts Center.
      An eco-farcical ''rewiring'' of Shakespeare's “The Tempest,” the play takes place on a hijacked containership on its way to Magnetic Island, where Julian Assange attempts to “reboot” a troupe of Dead Youth — teenagers from all over the globe who have died in violent circumstances that range from sweatshop labor to environmental poisoning to war. But two rival hijackers aim to thwart his mission, while presiding deity Henrietta Lacks looks on with grave displeasure.

      A professor of English and director of the creative writing program at Notre Dame, Dr McSweeney has published two hybrid novels and two volumes of poetry. “Dead Youth, or, the Leaks,” won the Leslie Scalapino Award for Innovative Performance Writers Who Are Women.

      Global OpEd by Paul Wallis in Australia: "Hate is an industry – Global merchandising and the reselling of hate"

      Hate is an industry – Global merchandising and the reselling of hate

      by Paul Wallis
      [Paul Wallis works at Sydney Media ]

      If the Charleston massacre was a hideous atrocity, it had commercial power for an entire global industry. The White Power icons worn by the accused shooter were covered on just about all news media. The coverage omitted to mention the multi-million dollar global trade in all types of hate merchandise, but it was great advertising for that trade.

      The “idealism” comes with some highly remunerative commercial values. Hate merchandise is the dream merchandise of any retailer: No copyright, no royalties to pay, and a lot of historical imagery, bogus or otherwise, to back it up.

      If you search Nazi merchandise online, and check out the images, you’ll find just about anything which can have a swastika printed on it. The Jewish Journal discovered Nazi memorabilia being sold on Amazon, “again” in 2013 as Rabbi Yonah Bookstein said, referring to prior sales issues in 2008.

      They still do, in 2015. You can get anything from actual uniforms to accessories and more. If you want a Heinrich Himmler action figure, it’s there. These things retail around the $1000 mark, or less for “used” Himmlers. If you want a “German Youth Dagger” with scabbard, complete with the reassuring recommendation that it was the type used by the Gestapo, it’s a snip at around $20. It’s also basically a rebranded flick knife.

      One store keeps details of its sales and views. The store sold 164 Nazi T-shirts in 30 days, with over 6000 views. The other thing of note – The store is in Japan. Globalization of hate really is a massive trade. Estimates of revenue vary, and they aren’t well defined. They’re certainly not reliable and research has a few obvious problems, but at least one estimate in the mid-2000s was in the tens of millions of dollars in Europe alone, per year.

      The nature of the industry is based on propaganda, old and new. Polarizing societies is definitely good for business. The occasional massacre is good for sales, as well as delivering whatever message you’d like world media to cover.  It’s pretty similar to the Islamic State online media campaigns, in that way.

      If you know anything about merchandising production values, you’ll get another message from the modern hate industry - The merchandise has gone way upscale in terms of production quality. This is “designer hate on demand”, in one sense, and the upmarket merchandise is quite expensive to produce.  That means there’s plenty of money to pay for production.

      So -- Has hate become “another mucking middle class trade”? Undeniably, yes. This is no cottage industry. Forget the ideologies and millions of deaths, this is business. Don’t be too surprised to see books or other products called “How to Succeed in Genocide Without Really Trying” or death squad franchise opportunities. The rationales are also saleable, and “How to Be a Better Bigot”, with diagrams, can’t be far away.

      Where money and hate come in, there are no real controls. Goebbels is still making his point, and the propaganda war is being lost on so many fronts. To win, you have to beat the message at its own game, and nobody’s trying.  The trouble is that failure is coming at the price of lives.

      CLIMATE CHANGE & Cli-Fi Novels and Movies: OUR LEGACY FOR THE EARTH, at the Findhorn Foundation, North Scotland, April 20-26 2019, will be a unique conference about living and thriving in the aftermath of climate change. It will feature some of the clearest and most passionate voices for the Earth ever gathered together in one place:


      Please go to the About and Presenters pages for more information.

      Sunday, November 26, 2017

      A Letter to America and the All of Nations as Well -- by Eco-Professor Kurt Caswell in Texas

      ''Letter to America and all other nations as well''
      by Kurt Caswell

      Guest Editorial

      Dear America and all other nations around the world,

      On October 9, 2017, at about 8 pm, a 19-year-old student at the Texas university where I teach was escorted to the campus police department for a welfare check. Once inside the building, he pulled a handgun, killed the officer leading him in, and fled on foot. Campus, city, and state police, along with county sheriff’s deputies and a SWAT team, captured him in about two hours. The morning after, the university community was on edge. Sirens sang all over campus because everything, everyone, every twittering leaf looked like an explosive device.
      The shooting on my campus followed in the wake of the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history in Las Vegas, which followed in the wake of other shootings: this shooting, that shooting. Unprecedented fires in the West, hurricanes in the South and East. These events are parallel to the latest public scandal—this one on Hollywood’s Harvey Weinstein for decades of sexual misconduct. And then the lies from his former supporters and colleagues who had to distance themselves from him—“I had no idea!”—initially, the Clintons, Meryl Streep (a self-proclaimed champion of women and the oppressed), and Judi Dench; now there are many, many others. They all knew, and did nothing because it was in their interest to do nothing: money and power, fame and fortune, keeping it for them, keeping it from us. And alongside all of it, President Trump exchanging threats with nuclear North Korea, tossing about words to seed a garden in hell: “total destruction.”
      To live in America in the 21st century is to live inside a bubble flush with oxygen while someone goes around distributing matches.
      America is not the greatest country in the world.
      The President of the United States is not the leader of the free world.
      And the American Dream—if it ever lived beyond fantasy—is dead.
      We all know these things to be true, but our media, our politicians, our corporations spoon these lies down our throats day after day to keep us, the citizenry, doing what is in their best interest: buy, spend, consume, keep your mouth shut.
      Dial it out a few hundred miles into Earth’s orbit, and note that these problems are human problems: human created, and of concern almost exclusively to humans. They are distractions, merely, from real problems. They are as petty as we are petty, and while we are championing our special causes on Facebook and Twitter, another hurricane is beating us flat.
      Trump, and his tactics of chaos and obfuscation, is a distraction. Trump is not the problem (nor is he the answer). He is a symptom of us, which means you are the problem. I am the problem. We are all the problem. No matter your position, you and I, all of us contributed to the cultural, economic, and political climate in which Trump was elected. And the problem with our great distraction is that it puts us off the real problem, the bigger problem: climate change.
      In his essential book, Learning to Die in the Anthropocene, Roy Scranton spells out the future of humanity in the world we have created. He does not offer a possibility of climate change impacts if we don’t take action now; this is the impotent cry of the establishment. And he does not mourn the bunnies and bees of our special Earth. The Earth will be just fine without us, just as Mars is fine without us, perfect and beautiful, even, with no life at all. What Scranton is willing to say, and what we all know is true but are unwilling to accept, is that climate change will lead to the collapse of our civilization and all its wonders. “This civilization is already dead,” he writes.
      Things are going to look a lot different from here on out, and you and I are powerless against it. Trump is powerless against it. Monsanto and Exxon are powerless against it. The United Nations is powerless against it.
      I grew up in the U.S. Forest Service, where my father invested 34 years of his life before he went to work for the state of Idaho, and then went to Washington D.C. to direct the Bureau of Land Management under President Bush. Mine was a boyhood in wild places, a collection of government houses around a district office in the mountains in Oregon. There, I roamed freely among the trees and creeks, caught lizards sunning on the rocks, fished from a canoe in the lake near the house, and attended a school of just over 30 students distributed across eight grades. For me, the world was a sea of wilderness with a few scattered cities, none of which I had ever seen. It wasn’t until high school, or even after, that I realized that as long as fossil fuels are flowing, the world is really just the opposite: a sea of cities whose influence pushes into the few remaining and scattered wild lands. And this is so more and more each day.
      There is no solution to the problem of climate change. Democracy and its capitalist economy will not fix it. A dictator and a communist economy will not fix it. A culture war between us and them will not fix it. A race war will not fix it. A gender war between men and women will not fix it. I avoid driving, recycle, and turn off unused lights in my house, and even if everyone in the world does so too, the Earth’s warmer future will still arrive; it is here already. And what is left for us to do is to cope, adapt, endure.
      I lived for a year and taught school on the Navajo Reservation in New Mexico. During that time and after, I read widely about Navajo history and culture. In the Navajo creation story, there is a time when women and men come to such odds that the Creator decides the only solution is to separate them by a river. The men are forced to live on one side, the women are forced to live on the other. Time passes, and the people begin to complain. The women miss what the men offer, and the men miss what the women offer. Each discovers that men and women are complementary; they are not the same, and they are not equal. Women possess attributes that the men do not have. Men possess attributes that the women do not have. The Creator then puts the women and men back together, and they go on living as before.
      In the warmer future, human beings—all of us, everywhere—are going to face real challenges, challenges that threaten even our species’ viability. The extinction of Homo sapiens is not a Hollywood movie scenario; it’s within reach during the next century. We have no time to publicly honor all our private wounds. Instead, we must honor our strengths and our differences. Then, one group of people with similar beliefs and values (a kind of tribe) may use their strengths to help another group of people with different beliefs and values. Globalism is not the answer because its underlying mission is to further consolidate wealth and resources, a system in which most of us serve a few of them. The answer, or perhaps our best chance, is some form of cooperative tribalism, which brings all the best of each group together to benefit the whole. And groups would cooperate because we have a common enemy: climate change, which is to say, ourselves.
      In the warmer future, women and men are going to need each other. Indigenous people and so called non-indigenous people are going to need each other. People with darker skin tones and people with lighter skin tones are going to need each other. People whose lives are guided by the Quran and people whose lives are guided by the Bible are going to need each other. This list goes on and on.
      If we can’t all come over onto the same side of the river, and walk up the hill to higher ground carrying our strengths and differences with us, it is the river that will come over onto both sides and wash everything out to sea.
      Kurt Caswell

      Diffractions: Sleepwalking Toward Calamity: The 2011 Climate Conference in Durban, South Africa -- blog post by Vandana Singh in 2012 (archived)

      Diffractions: Sleepwalking Toward Calamity: The 2011 Climate Conference in Durban, South Africa
      In the winter of 2011, from November 28 to December 11, the countries of the world met to save it from peril. Their representatives congregated in the city of Durban, South Africa, at COP 17 (the seventeenth Conference of the Parties) where they battled and argued over acres of verbiage, running into overtime and a marathon session that had delegates red-eyed and babbling at the end. And at the end? Was the End averted? The short answer is no.
      Expectations weren't high to begin with. Around the world, climate issues don't seem to be at the top of most people's agendas. And here in the US, despite the international consensus amongst climatologists, there seems to be little recognition that global warming is real. Distracted by an irresponsible media, and confused by skeptic groups well-funded by the fossil fuel lobby, the populace is at the best of times only vaguely aware that a threat exists. The threat isn't dramatic enough for Superman or his latest incarnation to defeat at one fell swoop, nor is it entirely comprehensible within a worldview limited by blind devotion to capitalism and prime time sitcoms. In other places there are, presumably, other blind spots. So the world hastens toward ending, while people flock to disaster movies and ignore the real threat, and the Durban Climate talks barely make it to the front page news.
      Given the vested interests involved, it was not a real surprise that in Durban the U.S. delegation dragged its feet over the negotiations. President Obama had declared that the U.S. would lead on climate change action, but this proved to be more empty rhetoric. There is a history of Western nations not taking responsibility in the context of climate, which infuriates people in countries such as India. As Indian environmentalist Sunita Narain says: "When negotiations began over 20 years ago, it was well understood the industrialised world—contributor to 70-80% of the stock of emissions in the atmosphere—had to vacate space for the emerging world to grow. The deal was this enriched world would reduce emissions drastically, for they had thrown the climate system out of kilter. The deal also was that money and technology transfer would enable emerging countries to avoid future emissions growth. But none of this happened." This lack of responsibility has understandably created bitterness and distrust between developed nations and emerging economies. At Durban the Indian delegation dug in its heels, arguing that caps on emissions would negatively affect millions of people who needed to be lifted out of poverty.
      Understandable though it might be, to me this position betrays a stupendous lack of imagination. Surely there are other paradigms of development than the Western path? Is it necessary to commit the same planet-destroying blunders in order to feed the Indian poor? I would have hoped that India would have taken the lead on an alternative, sustainable path to development, considering how severely countries in the tropics and subtropics will be affected by climate change. Instead the government is building more coal-fired power plants to feed—not the poor, but the consumerist appetites of the burgeoning middle class.
      Despite the various stand-offs at Durban, however, at the last minute some kind of agreement was cobbled together, one that the conference website calls a "breakthrough." For the first time all attending countries agreed to a legal agreement by 2015, to be put into effect by—hold your breath—2020. Calling this a breakthrough is a bit misleading, because delaying action until 2020 while CO2 emissions continue to rise every year would allow for a global temperature increase of well over 2 degrees C. World Wildlife Fund-UK's Keith Allott says that the "outcome of Durban leaves us with the prospect of being legally bound to a world of 4C warming." According to scientist Jim Hansen of NASA, a warming limit of just 2 degrees C would be a recipe for disaster and scientists at the US National Academy of Sciences seem to agree. Union of Concerned Scientists director of strategy and policy, Alden Meyer, comments that temperature increases well over two degrees celsius "would foreclose our ability to avoid the worst impacts of climate change."
      This is nothing short of disastrous for human and non-human inhabitants of the biosphere, and most immediately it is disastrous for Africa, which is already seeing the effects of climate change. Action to limit us to less than 2 degrees C warming would be much more drastic, that is, it would require immediate, meaningful action rather than hot air generated at talks. Such action is necessary for our mutual survival—but the powers-that-be stand to lose too much. Still, the negotiators did come up with a Green Climate Fund that was established to assist those countries most affected by climate change, that is, those countries who had the least to do with creating the problem. Who will pay how much and when is still up in the air.
      There were some heroic moments. These were mainly due to the youth delegates, including the bold young American college student, Abigail Borah, who interrupted the U.S. Climate Team's Todd Stern to shout that he had no right to speak for Americans. "2020 is too late," she shouted. The conference official who rebuked Abigail Borah said "nobody wants to listen to you," before she was escorted out of the hall, but within minutes the video went viral.
      Then there was Anjali Appadurai, official youth delegate, who delivered an unrestrained speech. Condemning the greed and stupidity of the powers that be, it ended with an Occupy-style mic check. Later the youth joined other groups, pleading "Don't kill Africa!" And there was music. African musicians got together and composed a song, and the global climate action group posted it and invited the world to make their own versions. The Nigerian-American singer Naira remixed it to fantastic effect—you can hear it and other versions at
      The government of the United States bailed out the banks before you could blink an eye. Bailing out the planet, as environmental journalist George Monbiot says in the Guardian, is quite another story. As Oliver Hughes, student activist for SustainUS at the Durban Conference said in response to the lackluster end result, the world is sleepwalking toward calamity. The question ultimately remains: having condemned us to a greater degree of warming than we or our descendants can safely live with, the governments and the corporations have demonstrated that we cannot rely solely on them. We cannot wait for them to act. So what is it we can do, as citizens, as writers, as readers? What is it that must be done?
      I'd like to posit the following. Assume that the planet must be saved. Not that we won't suffer the effects of global warming for a long time to come, but let us assume that we can do what it takes to limit it as much as possible so that one day it could be reversed. That is, less than 2C of warming. What would that take? What kind of action, re-thinking, re-imagining everything from technology to how we live to what we write and what we read—what would it look like on the way to saving the world? Science fiction is full of end-of-the-world stories, apocalyptic hereafters. It is so much more difficult to imagine and to bring to paper or screen the messy, complicated, partial, unsatisfactory, creative ways and means that might affect a solution. But it is a task both necessary and urgent. If we are the imagineers of the world, we must imagine, or re-imagine it in ways that involve other paradigms as well as other technologies.

      One for the ages, with humor, which we all need in these trying times!


      Accuracy of ''On the sea ice near Rigolet, Labrador'' *dateline* in NYTimes online called into question: was reporter there in fall of 2017? She was not.

      Toe touch?


      Leaning over the handlebars with one knee up on the seat, Derrick Pottle commanded his snowmobile between rocks and sheets of gray sea ice before stopping suddenly at the mouth of a bay.
      “It’s open,” Mr. Pottle said, turning off his machine. Ten yards away, the ice had cracked and opened a dark hole in the water that made it impossible to drive across the inlet.
      It was Jan. 7, 2017 (when the reporter was not a New York Times employee and paid for the trip through her own funds or a generous un-named media sponsor) unusually late in the season for Mr. Pottle’s first trip to his winter cabin — a few hours drive by snowmobile from his hometown, Rigolet — over what should have been more than 60 miles of frozen trails and solid ice.


      [When a New York Times article has an unvetted ''dateline'' that reads  ON SEA ICE NEAR RIGOLET, Labrador —  with a sentence that reads ''that made it impossible to drive across the inlet. It was Jan. 7, unusually late in the season for Mr. Pottle’s first trip to his cabin'' ....does this mean the article was researched and reported and that the reporter was there in Canada on January 7, 2017 when she was not a NYT staffer or in November 2017 when she was an intern at the NYT?

      SEE JACK SCHAFER's take  a few years ago on this topic:

      What is a dateline?
      First, you have to know what a dateline is -- and what it is not.
      The dateline of a news story has important information -- it indicates the city the journalist was in when he or she reported on the story. It also indicates the date the story was filed.
      However, the dateline does not indicate the place of publication. For example, an article that was published in a US-based newspaper, website, or TV network was produced in the US for an audience of Americans. It can thus be considered to have the US as its place of publication -- regardless of the dateline. (See example, right).

      Dateline - Wikipedia

      Toe Touching

      Rick Bragg's "Dateline Toe-Touch"

      A New York Times writer gets gets caught cutting corners.


      and TIME magazine controversy over a dateline with Laurie Goodstein


      toe-touch - A Way with Words

      Saturday, November 25, 2017

      O ambiente como protagonista? A ficção científica climática (cli-fi) - IN PORTUGESE

      O ambiente como protagonista? A ficção científica climática (cli-fi)
      Por Paulo Vinicius F. dos Santos.
      Ambientes inóspitos, devastações ambientais e o derretimento das calotas polares: temas interessantes que dão histórias incríveis. Conheçam a ficção científica climática, um subgênero da ficção científica onde o ambiente onde acontece a história é o verdadeiro protagonista.
      Muitas vezes a ficção científica lida com o futuro e com as mudanças que nosso mundo pode sofrer. A preocupação com o futuro da Terra sempre esteve nas mentes dos autores clássicos de ficção científica como Isaac Asimov e Arthur C. Clarke. Os últimos anos da carreira do Velho Mestre Asimov mostravam como ele estava pessimista quanto ao rumo que a humanidade estava tomando. Em uma definição simples, Eco-fiction ou Climate Fiction é um subgênero de ficção científica voltada para uma temática voltada para o estudo da ecologia ou do ambiente e como os seres humanos ou alienígenas se relacionam com este meio. Houve um boom de histórias desse estilo na década de 1970 durante as ondas que vieram dos movimentos sociais de 1968 em que voltávamos a pensar a respeito de nosso papel no planeta.

      Nas palavras de Margaret Atwood: “Existe um novo termo, cli-fi, (significando ficção climática, um trocadilho com sci-fi), que está sendo usado para descrever livros em que um clima alterado é parte do enredo. Romances distópicos são usados para se focar mais em regimes políticos terríveis, como em 1984, de George Orwell. Agora, entretanto, eles podem muito provavelmente tomar lugar em um ambiente desafiador que não mais lembra o planeta hospitaleiro que acreditamos ser comum”. (The Huffington Post)

      Os primeiros romances cli-fi (climate fiction) se voltavam mais para a maneira como os homens usavam ou abusavam da natureza ao seu redor. Importantes discussões acerca da presença do homem no planeta, discussões essas transportadas para cenários alienígenas onde todo o ambiente alienígena servia para esconder e metaforizar as verdadeiras discussões que ficavam como pano de fundo. Desde então o cli-fi evoluiu como gênero. Um exemplo disso é o romance Borne, escrito por Jeff Vandermeer e publicado em 2017. Vandermeer, conhecido pelo seu estilo new weird, com temas bem diferentes, nos apresenta a história de uma menina chamada Rachel que sobrevive em um mundo pós-apocalíptico marcado pela fome e pela miséria. A elite vive dentro de imensas cidades controladas pela Companhia, uma empresa bioquímica cujos restos industriais servem de alimento à população. Um dia, Rachel encontra uma criatura (planta? Animal?) chamado Borne que tem um jeito muito especial de conquistar as pessoas. Mas, em um mundo em que a desconfiança impera, o amor por Borne poderá colocar Rachel em sérios apuros. Nesse livro vemos como Borne se relaciona com o meio ambiente. Para ele, tudo é maravilhoso; mesmo na desolação é possível encontrar a beleza.
      Em um cli-fi, o plot é environment-driven, ou seja, o ambiente é o próprio personagem principal. É uma mudança total em relação a histórias que se baseiam no desenvolvimento de personagens ou na evolução da trama. A natureza assume o protagonismo e ela se relaciona diretamente com os personagens. A narrativa é travada na maneira como os personagens alteram ou destroem a natureza e como ela reage quanto a isso. A série Helliconia escrita por Brian Aldiss nos transporta para um planeta que sofre com o rigor das estações por centenas ou milhares de anos. Os seres que habitam o ambiente precisam se acostumar, por exemplo, com décadas de um inverno rigoroso ou de uma primavera atroz. As histórias giram nos homens se relacionam e sendo agentes de mudança ambiental. Normalmente vemos alguma situação ambiental grave que vai acabar levando a narrativa adiante. Helliconia se passa ao longo de milhares de anos, muito semelhante com o que Asimov faz na série Fundação.

      Dois outros pontos que se cruzam é a responsabilidade e o interesse humano. Kim Stanley Robinson é um mestre nessa arte. Por exemplo, na série Mars vemos o desenvolvimento de uma colônia terrestre em Marte. Ao longo da trilogia somos apresentados às várias dificuldades que o planeta joga para os personagens. Mesmo depois de assentados os próprios seres humanos interferem tanto com o ambiente do planeta que eles precisam se preparar para sofrer as consequências de tais alterações. Somos colocados também diante do tema de construir meios de ligação entre Marte e a Terra. Ao longo da trama uma corporação de exploração de recursos minerais deseja construir uma enorme escada celeste ligando os dois planetas. Esse é o interesse humano de espoliar selvagemente os recursos naturais do planeta. A responsabilidade ética fica em como essas ações irão mexer com o equilíbrio planetário.

      O estilo de escrita pode variar entre um classicismo, uma história mais vanguardista, um romance, um mistério e até um realismo mágico. Depende de como o autor direciona a sua narrativa. Algumas das melhores histórias são de ficção científica mais pesada onde o autor pode imaginar todo o tipo de situações exóticas e criativas. Porém, temos o outro lado do espectro com a série Helliconia. Aldiss conseguiu criar uma trama que não fica muito distante de um romance de fantasia clássico. Tanto é que George R.R. Martin alega ter se inspirado em Helliconia Spring e Helliconia Winter para criar a ideia de as estações influenciarem o mundo de Westeros.
      O primeiro registro de clifi pode ser atribuído a uma história de Jules Verne chamada de The Purchase of the North Pole onde ele imagina um mundo profundamente alterado climaticamente simplesmente a partir da mudança de eixo da Terra. Precisamos lembrar que Verne tirava muitas de suas ideias a partir de descobertas e pesquisas de sua época. Já no final do século XIX o homem se preocupava com a maneira predatória com a qual os recursos naturais eram explorados. Mas, o autor mais conhecido dos primórdios desse gênero, sem dúvida alguma, é J.G. Ballard e seu romance The Drowned World, escrito em 1962. Ballard foi um dos vanguardistas a pensar no derretimento das calotas polares e no súbito aumento do nível dos oceanos. Com a sua pegada voltada para o estudo de personagens, ele consegue apresentar uma narrativa aterrorizante estudando a impotência do homem diante do poder selvagem da mãe natureza. Claro que, em The Drowned World essa catástrofe é provocada pela radiação solar, mas temos outro romance dele chamado The Drought, escrito dois anos mais tarde, em que as alterações no planeta são provocadas pela irresponsabilidade do homem.

      Mas, sem dúvida alguma, o autor que mais trabalhou com esse gênero de histórias é Kim Stanley Robinson. Ele trabalhou tanto com histórias sobre mudanças climáticas como também com a relação do homem com ambientes inóspitos. Ainda no tema de mudanças climáticas é possível citar o livro Green Earth (o compilado de uma série que começa com o livro Forty Signs of Rain) em que ele imagina toda a politicagem necessária para realizar uma mudança real na maneira como nos relacionamos com o meio ambiente. Recentemente ele escreveu New York 2140, um clifi que se passa em uma Nova York após o aumento dos oceanos em que as pessoas vivem em prédios abandonados cercados pelo mar por todos os lados. Vemos o surgimento de toda uma série de relações sociais dentro desse prédio.

      Em uma vertente diferente, Robinson explorou também outros planetas e ecossistemas. Em Aurora, ele explora uma nave espacial enviada para colonizar um planeta no sistema de Tau Ceti. Dentro dessa nave, existem todos os ecossistemas da Terra reproduzidos com sua fauna e flora. E existe toda uma preocupação por parte da tripulação em preservar estes ambientes da melhor maneira possível. Já na série Three Californias, Robinson brinca com a evolução da humanidade em um lugar e como eles usam o ambiente para construir a sua sociedade.

      Cinco boas dicas de climate fiction:

      1 - "The Drowned World" de J.G. Ballard

      Impossível não indicar esse clássico da ficção científica de um autor que possui uma prosa incrível como J.G. Ballard. Nesse romance, vemos as calotas polares tendo derretido causando a submersão de boa parte do hemisfério norte do planeta. O protagonista da história é um biólogo responsável por mapear o que sobrou do planeta e onde estão vivendo os sobreviventes. Só que muitos deles acabaram retomando seus espíritos primitivos. A história serve como uma reflexão do autor sobre como os homens acabam tendo sua sociedade desintegrada por conta de uma situação limite.

      2 - "Trilogia MadAddam" (Oryx e Crake, O Ano do Dilúvio e MadAddam) de Margaret Atwood

      Margaret Atwood gosta de explorar situações críticas em suas obras. Podemos ver isso em seu livro mais famoso, O Conto da Aia, mas muitos consideram a trilogia MadAddam o ponto onde ela mais acertou sua pena. Um livro que aposta no derretimento das calotas polares, na degradação ambiental e no aumento do nível do mar. Será a partir desses três temas que ela vai fazer um estudo sociológico de como o homem será capaz de lidar com isso. Nesses livros veremos vários personagens em que alguns testemunharam o acontecido enquanto outros precisam lidar com as consequências da destruição ambiental, tendo que reconstruir suas vidas em um novo mundo. Dos três talvez Oryx e Crake seja o mais pessimista, mas nenhum deles perde em carga dramática.

      3 - "A Faca de Água" de Paolo Bacigalupi

      Nos últimos tempos falamos tanto em preservar a água dos rios e de que o futuro pode reservar uma guerra pelo controle das águas. Paolo Bacigalupi ataca esse tema de frente ao nos mostrar um futuro onde boa parte da oferta de água desapareceu. A história se passa no sudoeste dos Estados Unidos onde os personagens disputam a capacidade de controlar o fornecimento de água para as pessoas. O autor coloca algumas reflexões interessantes como o fato de a própria expropriação econômica como resultado do esgotamento dos recursos naturais do planeta.

      4 - "A trilogia da Terra Partida" (A Quinta Estação, The Obelisk Gate e The Stone Sky) de N.K. Jemisin

      Jemisin nos apresenta talvez uma das narrativas mais pungentes na atualidade: um mundo que sofre uma série de catástrofes ambientais de tempos em tempos. Em todas as vezes, essas catástrofes significam o fim da civilização e uma necessidade de reconstruir o que foi perdido. Temos uma casta de orogenes, seres cujos poderes mágicos tem a ver com sua profunda conexão com o planeta, que sofrem preconceito porque se acredita que eles sejam os verdadeiros culpados por tudo aquilo que acontece ao planeta. Ao mesmo tempo, esse preconceito vem do medo que as pessoas sentem já que os orogenes são seres extremamente poderosos. Os protagonistas são constantemente oprimidos, sofrendo um profundo ostracismo por aqueles que deveriam abrigá-los. Ao mesmo tempo, Jemisin explora de que maneiras a civilização encontra para sobreviver a um mundo que os coloca em constante estado de destruição.

      5 - "New York 2140" de Kim Stanley Robinson

      É óbvio que o Mago do Clima não poderia faltar nessa lista. Para tanto escolhi o seu livro mais recente, lançado em 2016 e que explora os habitantes do MetLife, um arranha-céu em uma Nova York que sofreu com o aumento dos níveis do mar. Dentre as obras do autor, talvez seja aquela que mais explora a relação do homem com a natureza e entre eles mesmos. Tendo um estilo mais otimista e até um clima mais leve do que outros de seus livros como Aurora e Red Mars, New York 2140 analisa as relações entre o capitalismo selvagem e um clima terrestre cada vez mais perigoso. Diante de tudo isso, o autor coloca acima de tudo a necessidade de uma mudança no comportamento da sociedade em relação ao lugar que habitamos.

      At the Movies Again: ''Cli-fi'' in film (and on print paper)

      At the Movies Again: ''Cli-fi'' in film (and on print paper)

      “The presumption of social media is that even the tiniest subjective micronarrative is worthy not only of private notation, as in a diary, but of sharing with other people.” Jonathan Franzen in The Guardian
      So, Ms. Extremeresearcher went to the movies and had to write a whole blog post about it, eh? Yep, so here goes. You’re welcome.
      It was a pretty quiet afternoon show at the smallest room of the local cinema.

      I recently went to see the new Hollywood cli-fi movie Geostorm. It tells the tale of American and global geoengineering projects gone awry. Basically, since climate change caused a bunch of catastrophic storms and weather phenomena, the heroic scientists came to the rescue and set up a bunch of satellites to control the Earth’s climate. Things go alright for a while, until they don’t anymore. So a scientist hero is again needed to fix this pesky climate change issue.
      Recognize this guy? “This. Is. Sparta!“? Credit:

      The movie was starred by Gerard Butler of 300 fame. And yep, he’s the science nerd hero in the movie. Not surprisingly, the film is pretty “masculine” in many ways. It also contains mind-numbingly boring engineer porn that shows in slow motion how different techno-mechanical gadget thingys dock and reattach themselves and so on. But, it did also contain a couple of relatively cool female roles and, even though I think that it’s deeply problematic to put faith in geoengineering projects the way the film seems to suggest, it still wasn’t the worst film I’ve seen.

      But yeah, those are the best “jokes” of the movie.
      I also recently went to see the new Blade Runner 2049 with mrs. extremesesearcher. Many people have noted how climate, although not really mentioned or foregrounded in it, still plays an important role in the movie, and that is true. It also dealt with some interesting themes such as the human/nonhuman and life/nonlife boundaries that I’m interested in.

      As a film, I thought this was actually pretty good. It does suffer somewhat of the current disease of megalomania that Hollywood has, where a movie to be significant has to also be very long. However, I found the slowness of this film to actually add to its artistic quality, kind of in a similar fashion as it does to films like the 1960s-70s Space Odyssey, Solaris, and The Apocalypse Now (all hail the 5-hour Redux version). Definitely better than Geostorm. But, I would recommend reading “the original Blade Runner novel,” Philip K. Dick’s Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep which, aside from having one of the best book titles I know, is also a very good novel, even though it’s often classed together with other genre fiction as slightly less than serious literature.
      Anyway, conserning good cli-fi films: I’ve seen many of the films on this IMDB list but, apart from a few exceptions, they don’t really represent the highest artistic value, right? So, if you have suggestions for good films related to climate change, let me know.


      I also recently read the Finnish novel Tuhannen viillon kuolema (“Death by a Thousand Cuts” in English) by Juhana Pettersson. Apart from the novels by Risto Isomäki, I wasn’t familiar with other Finnish cli-fi writing.

      “Death by a Thousand Cuts”
      It was an interesting and entertaining enough of a pageturner but not really what I would call serious literature. But, you know, still OK. It’s a narrative about rich people preparing for the coming climate change by buying shares in a firm that promises to set them up cosily after climate change “happens” (of course, in reality, much of it has already happened and now it’s just a question of whether the consequences are going to be truly, existentially, catastrophic for most life on earth, or only very, very bad for some lifeforms). The climate change preparedness firm also promises to protect the rich from the mobs of poor people who would threaten them when food and shelter become scarce. All in all, quite an interesting scenario and since it’s only the first part of a trilogy, I’m probably gonna check out the next parts, too. You can read a review (in Finnish) of this book by, of all people, Jari Sarasvuo (sorry, you have to be a Finn to know) in the new Voima magazine here.

      Cormac McCarthy’s The Road and Margaret Atwood’s Maddadam Trilogy are often classified among cli-fi and they’re both great but I would like to do more cli-fi reading (and why not watching, too). The Rachel Carson Center just published this list of possible cli-fi reading, which had many useful suggestions.

      Like I mentioned some posts back, I recently read Liz Jensen’s The Rapture and Maggie Gee’s Ice People. I also have Paul Pacigalupi’s (damn is that how you spell it?) Wind-up Girl, Barbara Kingsolver’s Flight Behavior, and Kim Stanley Robinson’s New York 2140 in my Book Depository cart, and Kim Stanley Robinson’s 2312 shortly arriving, but more suggestions on  high quality cli-fi are still welcome.

      To finish, and only slightly off-topic: if you’re interested in cli-fact in podcast form, I can recommend Unburnable that focuses on suing the hypocritical Norwegian government due to them opening the Arctic for oil drilling. Another podcast (in Finnish) that I can recommend is Tulevaisuus hanskassa. Now, Finnish podcasts (apart from the hilariously obscene Radio Sodoma) are usually not very good but this one was actually OK. It features some bright people as guests, such as Ville Lähde, Kirsti M. Jylhä, and Toni Lahtinen. The podcast’s slogan is that it “contains hope,” so it makes for nice, optimistic listening during the walk to work, even though I sometimes find it hard to share that optimism.

      P.S. I just got back from the Gender Studies Conference in Jyväskylä and I’ll write a detailed report of it soon, after I’ve let the experience simmer a bit.
      Featured image credit:


      climate fiction "cli fi"
      Daily update November 25, 2017
      Cli-fi for the sci-fi wary
      Gaia Gazette Nov. 23, 2017 
      Okay, you got me, climate fiction is science fiction. But it's not really speculative, is it? Climate change is happening, whether we like it or not, and the scenarios laid out in these books are entirely likely, if not inevitable. Rather than being an interesting thought experiment, these books are meant to be a ...