Saturday 31 December 2022

Anthropocene Ruminations

In 1933, Lawrence Manning — the first great Canadian science fiction author — wrote The Man Who Awoke. From the perspective of historians thousands of years in the future, the novel describes our present day as the ‘age of waste’ and paints a picture of a climate irreversibly damaged by human activity.

It could be argued that this is the beginning of climate fiction — of cli-fi — as a recognizable subgenre. Interestingly, the novel predates the scientific discovery of climate change by almost five years.
Guy Stewart Callendar was the first
scientist to show that the planet
was warming due to increasing
atmospheric CO2 levels.
(Image via Wikipedia.) 

It’s a subgenre that has produced lasting classics like Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler, biting satires like Ben Elton’s This Other Eden, pulpy action thrillers like Trevor Hoyle’s The Last Gasp, cyberpunk adventures like Autonomous by Annalee Newitz. Climate change is all around us, in the air we breathe, the food we eat, and the water we drink … so it shouldn’t surprise anyone that it’s also in almost every book we read.

This autumn, we had the opportunity to work with artists and creators who volunteered their time and effort to look at a few different facets of climate change fiction for an issue of Journey Planet we guest edited. We called it Anthropocene Ruminations, and we hope you will check it out

This is our small contribution to the broader discussion of cli-fi. 

There’s so much more to say, and so many voices we’d urge you to consider. Phoebe Wagner and Brontë Christopher Wieland’s anthology Sunvault. Arizona State University’s anthology Everything Change.

Although climate change was primarily caused by the people and corporations of the industrialized West, many of its worst impacts are being perpetrated against people in the Global South. This is a global problem, and we must therefore seek a global understanding of it by reading works from non-Western perspectives. Sheree Renée Thomas, Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki, and Zelda Knight’s recent anthology Africa Risen includes some excellent cli-fi.

Climate change is the defining crisis of our time, and we’d suggest that cli-fi is the defining subgenre.

No comments:

Post a Comment