Back in 2016, before Brady had decided to start a monthly cli-fi trends column in the Chicago Review of Books, she queried me and other people on Twitter with this question: What do you guys make of the recent spate of climate fiction (or “cli-fi”) that’s emerged in recent years? Do you think it’s a bona fide new genre of literature or a fleeting trend? Or something else?”
One alert reader and an author herself, Allegra Hyde, answered in a timely way for the year 2016, four long years ago:: “I’m guessing “cli-fi” is here to stay. What will be interesting to watch, however, is how this kind of fiction evolves alongside our rapidly changing world. Is climate-fiction going to become more and more darkly dystopic? Or is it going to serve as a vehicle for imagining solutions?”
Amy got in touch with me a few weeks later with a short message about her new cli-fi column in the Chicago Review of Books, which she intended to call “Burning Worlds.” The first column appeared on February 8, 2017 and now in 2020 the column still continues online.
In early 2017, Amy sent me this note: “Hi Dan! I hope this finds you well! I’m writing with some good news for cli-fi and with a request. Next month, I’m launching a column at the Chicago Review of Books dedicated to cli-fi. I’ll use the platform to conduct interviews, review recent releases in cli-fi, and discuss important conversations about the genre had by you and our colleagues in the field.”
What I envison now is a non-fiction book written by a literary critic or a cultural reporter that explains to the lay reader worldwide just how and why the cli-fi term evolved and how and why it caught on the way it has. Perhaps writers such as Elizabeth Kolbert, or Andrew Revkin, or Amy Brady, or Josephine Livingstone or John Maher will have a go at it. Or Alexandra Alter at the New York Times, perhaps for publication by a major hourse in 2025.
Meanwhile, as I end this blog, I want to send out public thank you messages to writers and authors who have supported the rise of cli-fi from the very beginning, including Michael Svoboda, Margaret Atwood, Alison Flood, Jeff Vandermeer, James Bradley, Cat Sparks, James Burgman-Milner, Amy Brady, Andrew Milner, Emmi Itaranta, Axel Goodbody, Bruno Arpaia, Lovis Geier, Bill McKibben, Greta Thunberg and Josephine Livingstone, among others around the world.