Friday, June 29, 2018

''Climate Horror'' is the Most important Fiction of our Times, writes eco-horror novelist David Agranoff

Editor's note for this blog: Computer gremlins are messing up the lines here, sorry for this. Will try to fix but so far the fixes are not going in. So read as it. Thanks. -- DB

''Climate Horror is the Most important Fiction of our Times''

An essay by David Agranoff

There was a time in the United States when the threat of nuclear war was so great that school children
ran drills much like fire drills to prepare for an atomic attack. It is hard to express to the young just how
close the human race came to mutual destruction during historical events like the Cuba missile crisis. It
doesn’t seem rational that 2 powerful nations would stockpile so many weapons that they could wipe
out their species many times over but that happened.

During the 1950s and 1960s many works of science fiction and horror were devoted to exploring the “what
if” involved in atomic warfare. Many of these novels including On the Beach by Neil Shute, and Alas
Babylon by Pat Frank are considered classics beyond the genre and are even taught in schools decades
later. These novels serve as warnings and there are many beyond the most known classics, a wide
variety of authors tackled the subject. Poplar films like Dr. Strangelove and Planet of the Apes also
tackled these issues during that era.

It was one thing for scientists or military figures to explain the destructive power of these weapons; it
was a whole other thing to have authors and filmmaker’s explore life after global nuclear conflict. In
1983 this came to head when the most popular TV movie of the year, The Day After, became the water
cooler talk of the nation. It is said that then U.S. President Ronald Regan was so moved by the experience of
watching it and the conversation started that it pushed him to make more serious efforts at

In 2018 we face a similar crisis. Unlike nuclear weapons global climate change is already harming people
and threatens life on a global scale. Beyond the horror faced by two cities in Japan the effect of nuclear
warfare is mostly theory. The horror of global climate change has already begun and like a snowball
going downhill it is gathering strength. The avalanche is coming.

The horror writes itself, speaking as a person who has studied and written about environmental issues
since the mid-1990s I can tell you many writers were trying to warn about global climate change as far
back as the 1980s long before it became the cause of the former U.S. Vice President Al Gore.

The science is there, the temperatures continue to rise along with the global seal levels, species die out,
and the wildfire seasons are almost year round. Climate change denial is more than ideologically
unfortunate, it has become dangerous to future generations. It is something I think about every day, I
wish this crisis was as obvious to people now as it was for the children climbing under desks to drill for
nuclear attacks.

It is easy to convince someone that being shot is a bad thing, but convincing them not to eat cancer
causing food they find delicious is a hard thing. It is the difference from convincing someone that
nuclear war is a threat compared to the slow pace of global climate change. Both are destructive but
one is sneaky. I choose to write an ecological horror novel because there is no issue of greater
importance to our species than maintaining the sustainability of the one and only planet that sustains our lives. There are hundreds of important social issues but without a planet to live on what does it

In my recently released novel Ring of Fire I tried to imagine all the worst case environmental disasters I
could think of and brought them raining down on the city I call home, San Diego. In the novel a massive
wildfire breaks out at the same time that large numbers of people realize they are in a cancer cluster. As
the fire grows to surround the city the people trapped realize that the air they breathe and the water
they drink are not safe. Cut off from a functioning eco-system the people lose their grip on sanity.

Without spoiling the book it goes in a science fiction direction and the cli-fi connections become clear
later in the book. I am a horror writer, and this book is in fact one of my worst nightmares come to life. It is a case of exaggerating to clarify my positions and fears.

Ring of Fire took years of research, and it was one of the hardest novels for me to write, but I was on a
mission. It is a mission I am calling on all writers of speculative and horror fiction to take. We need all hands on deck, every creative mind that can should writing about global climate change. You don’t need to be a genre author, certainly any writer raising children in this world should be thinking about these issues.

Now more than ever genre authors NEED to embrace the sub-genres of CLI-FI and ecological horror.

More importantly, academics and critics need to embrace these works of speculative fiction as worthy
of study and importance. We need a ''Day After'' moment with climate-change fiction when readers
gather around the watercooler to discuss CLI-FI and shudder at the ideas we have brought to them. We
need the novels to become classics so the political leaders in this country feel compelled to read them,
or at least know enough about them that we push the needle.

As fans if we read a good environmental novel we have to spread the word. We don’t want a future
where people fondly look back at the role storytellers played in saving the future. If we don’t want the
ice poles this planet to disappear for the first time since 33 million B.C.E. We don’t want the ultra-violet
rays cooking our children. We don’t want a future where they never know the magic of books. If we let it
happen, then every written word of our civilization will have been for nothing.

If you are a writer, the CLI-FI movement needs you. If you are reader,  CLI-FI is a movement that needs you.

-- David Agranoff
Twitter: @Dagranoffauthor

AUTHOR BIO: David Agranoff is the author of 6 novels and 2 short story collections.

His animal rights and ecologically themed short story collection Screams from a Dying World was nominated for the 2009 Wonderland bizarro fiction award for best collection.

Screams was recently re-issued with 3 new stories by Grand Mal press.

Most his novels have been published by the cult horror publisher Deadite
Press and include The Vegan Revolution…with Zombies, Boot Boys of the Wolf Reich, Flesh Trade (co- written with Edward R. Morris) Punk Rock Ghost Story and the CLI-FI novel Ring of Fire.

Insta: Count.Agranoff



Ring of Fire is available now:

David Agranoff’s Favorite Post-Nuclear war novels:

Swan Song by Robert McCammon
Boy and His Dog by Harlan Ellison
The Long Tomorrow by Leigh Brackett
Alas Babylon by Pat Frank

David Agranoff’s favorite CLI-FI and eco-horror novels:

The Water Knife by Paolo Bacigalupi
The Sheep Look Up by John Brunner
The Bridge by John Skipp and Craig Spector
Demons by John Shirley
The Drowned World by JG Ballard
Southern Reach Trilogy by Jeff Vandermeer
Sea of Rust by C. Robert Cargil
Lost Girl by Adam Nevill
The Road by Cormac McCarthy
Immobility by Brian Evenson

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