‘Cli-fi’ gains traction as new literary form

Global warming

Image courtesy Inhabitat

Guest Post by Dan Bloom

Note from Joe: Originally from Boston, Dan Bloom is a Taipei, Taiwan-based free-lance journalist who has written about “climate fiction” since 2008. He blogs about the genre at Cli Fi Central.

In a London Guardian newspaper commentary in London in late May, British writer Rodge Glass issued a “global warning” about what he termed “the rise of ‘cli-fi'” — noting that “unlike most science fiction, novels about climate change focus on an immediate and intense threat rather than discovery.”

His piece about the rise of cli-fi as a literary term in English — in both the U.S. and in the UK — was well-received among his newspaper’s readership with over 100 comments joining the post-publication online discussion. NPR broadcast a story about cli-fi in April, which was followed by a second story in the Christian Science Monitor. And following the Guardian piece in late May, the Financial Times in London ran its own story about cli-fi.

Glass, himself a novelist, said that in recent months the cli-fi term has been used increasingly in literary and environmental circles — but there’s no doubt it has broken out more widely. The Twitterverse also took note, he said.

I know a little about the growing popularity of the cli-fi term, because I coined it here in Taiwan in 2008 while working on a series of blog posts about climate change and global warming. But it wasn’t until NPR and the Guardian ran stories about cli-fi that the word got out far and wide. I also want to credit an artist in Taiwan, Deng Cheng-hong, who inspired me in my PR work with his illustrations of what future survival cities for climate refugees might look like.
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