Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Richard Friedman's cli-fi short story for the Age of Trump titled ''A Modern Day Cronkite'' [2,496 words]

January 31, 2017

Richard Friedman's cli-fi short story for the Age of Trump titled ''A Modern Day Cronkite'' [2,496 words]

Richard Friedman's cli-fi short story for the Age of Trump titled ''A Modern Day Cronkite'' [2,496 words] ''A Modern Day Cronkite''is part of a global cli-fi short story compilation [see italics below] in the Age of Trump, Year 1 A.D. "Anno Donaldo''

INTRODUCTON:: -- ''The International Age of Trump Cli-Fi Short Story Writing Compilation'' (not a contest and no winners, but with an important purpose and chance to air your views as a short story writing in this Age of Trump, either pro or con Trump, all views accepted.) Stories will be published with your byline on this Facebook Group Page and on a separate blogspot blog with Twitter announcing the entire list of stories with links to the individual stories by the individual authors. Story length 800 - 2500 words. Byline should be your real name. Copyright belongs to you and you may publish the story elsewhere as well if you wish, but the story should be original and written in 2017 or 2018 in this Age of Trump. Time frames may be the past, the present, the near future, the distant future. As stories come in, they will be published here and on a separate blog. Stories should be cli-fi in essence and they should use the words Trump or Age of Trump in the text somewhere, perhaps in the title, too. Again, all POV are welcome so if there is a Michael Chrichton out there who wants submit a "State of Fear" kind of pro-Trump short story that is pro-Age of Trump, that is fine, too. However, one suspects that most entries will be taking aim at Trump and the Age of Trump. Stories may be Time Travel or Current Days or Near Future Days, whatever your imagination tells you to write. The compilation starts today, and will continue for a year or two or three or maybe 8 years. Time will tell. Stories may be Cli-Fi Lite, Cli-fi Dark, Cli-Fi Deep, or Cli-Fi Humor. All writers are welcome, all nationalities, all languages, all ages. Send in your stories by email to subject line ''The International Age of Trump Cli-Fi Short Story Writing Compilation'' to this email address: danbloom@gmail.com
***"Curious, empathetic, compassionate: What we should be as human beings."***
THE ''Cli-Fi ''REPORT:
Hundreds of academic and media news links:
http://cli-fi.net

===============================
 
''A Modern Day Cronkite''
 
By Richard Friedman
 
My name is Spencer Parker. I went to Syracuse University and majored in Journalism. I wanted to be the 2019 version of Walter Cronkite, the esteemed journalist from my parent’s era.
After graduation, I took a job covering environmental stories at the Lake County News Herald, a small newspaper in Northeast Ohio. As Walter used to say in his sign off from television, “And that’s the way it is”.  This is my record of the most bizarre, and likely last few months of my life. I will continue to provide updates until my strength runs out. I pray this document proves useful to whoever finds it. And that’s the way it is. 
 
It’s early 2019, and Donald Trump moved the country backwards in every meaningful environmental way. He stripped the Environmental Protection Agency to the bone. He encouraged fracking and off shore drilling. He withdrew the United States from the Paris Climate Agreement, casting America as an environmental pariah.
 
It was at this moment when I received the call that changed my life.
A women’s voice said, “Mr. Parker?”
I said, “Yes. Can I help you?”
She paused, and said, “I’d rather not say it over the phone. Meet me tomorrow at Blossom Music Center. Three o’clock sharp.”
The called abruptly ended.
 
                The next day I arrived on time.
 
A voice said, “Hey, Pssst. Back here.”
 I said, “Where?”
She said, “You’re the reporter, figure it out.”
I followed the voice into the forested area.
She said, “Thank you for coming Mr. Parker. I hope you’re up to the task.”
I said, “I’d like to see your face.”
She said, “At this point in our relationship, I’m afraid that’s not possible.”
 I sighed, “What should I call you?”
A male voice said, “Why don’t you call her Mother?”
I said, “Okay, Mother, why are we here in the middle of winter?”
She said, “Thousands of people protested against the pipeline in North Dakota. It didn’t matter. Oil rich executives don’t care. They want profits at all costs. The planet is bearing the brunt of their self-indulgence.”
 
I said, “I feel helpless. How can one individual change the world?”
Guffaws and snorts echoed from the woods.
Mother said, “My constituency can’t wait. This is war. It’s us against them, and my side will prevail, no matter how many lives it costs.”
I said, “You’re saying the ends justify the means.”
Mother said, “Correct.”
I asked, “How many soldiers to you have at your disposal?”
She said, “Enough.”
“What kind of weapons do you plan on using?” I asked.
Mother said, “The kind that can’t be stopped.”
I asked, “Nukes or chemicals?”
Mother replied, “Nukes and chemicals would destroy everything. That’s the last thing I want. We have weapons from God.”
I said, “This is getting me nowhere. Why am I here?”
“You have the means to tell people what’s happening,” said Mother.
I said, “I’ll need to confirm this with a second source.”
Mother asked, “How about a bunch of dead bodies?”
Kiddingly, I said, “That’s a good start.”
 
A deep voice said, “I told you this was a waste of time. He’s chicken, like that little guy sitting next to you.”
The accused voice said, “I’m not afraid.  Not everyone is as tough as you are. I’m willing to put my neck on the line too.”
Mother said, “Don’t get your feathers ruffled, boys.  Let’s be mature about this. Mr. Parker, I have contacts in every continent ready to act.”
I said, “Right, the entire world. This has been fascinating. I’m outta here.”
I left convinced this was a hoax, yet I couldn’t shake the feeling that this woman was sincere. She was either a great actress like Meryl Streep, or certifiable. I needed to speak to her again.
 
While I drove, the meeting in the woods continued.
 
Mother presented solemn news to the big guys in the back of the woods. “You deserve to hear it straight from me, and not through a series of underground messages. You’re going to die in this confrontation. And you won’t even fire a single shot.  You will perish on a scale of unprecedented magnitude. I have plans to ensure your family tree re-populates the planet.”
One spoke up, “Not a single shot? Are you sure? I thought we’d burn them to the ground, or die biting and kicking until the bitter end. I was hoping to live longer. I’m only in my early fifties!”
Mother was stern, “I saw your family cut down in the prime of their lives. There isn’t any among you that will escape death. Young and old, weak or strong, black, and white. I know what’s best! Your selfless act of suicide will lead us to victory.”
 
Those singled out murmured unhappily. This was not the plan they envisioned.
“Suicide seems out of character for us. You want us to lay down our lives without knowing why. That’s the ultimate leap of faith. I can trace my roots back to the cradle of civilization.”
Mother measured her words, “Your brain can’t comprehend my plan. I can’t go town to town explaining it all over again.  You’re big and strong, but not too bright. They say time heals all wounds. Time doesn’t heal the grievous attacks on our way of life.  They stole your land! Why? Greed! There was plenty to share. They wrote laws to protect us, and lied. Those lies are coming home to roost. We’re on the threshold of reclaiming our land.  Governments across the world will declare Martial Law as society descends into chaos. They’ll die quickly when they run out of food and water. Then I’ll have power over everything on the planet.”
Not everyone was impressed with her bluster. “I think this went to her head, don’t you?” Another said, “Talk about an ego? How did it come to this?”
 
Mother heard the complaints, “This is not about my ego. This is about protecting your progenies.  Even the weakest among you can contribute. Go about your business as usual. Interact with the enemy. If you see them on the road, give them access and stay clear. I don’t want to see you on television causing trouble. That’s the last thing we need. Let them assume you’re happy to be alive.”
A voice spoke up, shaking from the cold, “Should we be nicer than normal?”
This irritated Mother, “I know you have the mental aptitude of a squirrel, but seriously, aren’t you listening?”
“You don’t have to be cruel,” said the shivering one, wearing his thick winter coat.
Mother said, “I’m sorry for snapping at you.  I’m under a tremendous pressure. God would cry if he saw what has become of Earth.”
 
I spent two weeks searching to find her source of funding for a battle of this magnitude. Was there really was an army behind her swagger and braggadocio?
That night I sat near my window, convinced she was a fraud, my phone rang. I easily identified her voice.
I said, “I was thinking about you this very minute.”
Mother said, “I told you next time it would be you reaching out to me. Are you ready to make headlines?”
 I said, “I think you’re gaslighting me and making me a fool.”
Mother laughed, “Your recent article on fossil fuels did that without my assistance.”
I said, “Insulting me? Where did you learn your manners?”
Mother said, “His name was Father T.”
I seized the opening. “Are you referring to Father William Thomas from St. Ann’s church?”
Mother quickly changed the subject. “Shall we meet again? Same place. Tomorrow at noon?”
I said, “We’re expecting eight inches of snow. How about once the storm passes we set up our next meeting?”
Mother said, “Don’t be a worrywart. The roads will be fine.”
 
The snowfall for the area fell short of expectations, but even with three inches of the white stuff, I worked up a sweat getting to the same bench in the woods.
Mother chuckled at my perspiration, “Quite a cardiovascular test, huh? You haven’t written a word about what happening.”
I said, “There is no story until I report facts, not rumors.”
Mother said, “I’m prepared to make another offer to you. Think of yourself as a war correspondent like Cronkite in Vietnam. You’re too young to recall him telling America the war was unwinnable. You’ll record the events for posterity. Plus, you’re a tree-lover.”
How did this woman know of my admiration for Cronkite?
I shuddered, “I do care more about the environment than the portfolios of Wall Street billionaires.”
She said, “Sound’s like you’re feeling the Bern.”
I said, “He could have won if the democrats played fair. They got their chosen candidate and got burned.”
 
“Touché, Mr. Parker. Are you interested in the job?” she asked.
I promised to keep a journal of events as they unfolded.  When I was ready to depart, I asked her, “How will I know when it’s over? You promised I would see you. And what should I do with my report?”
 
Mother said, “I’ll make sure your report is read. A promise is a promise. In late April we’ll meet face to face.”
 
 
February 8th
 
The air is full of Carbon Dioxide and it’s getting harder to find clean air to breathe.
The continued warming of the planet had far reaching consequences. Scientists predicted we’d have until the year 2100 to worry about a global disaster.  CO2 levels in the atmosphere soared to record breaking highs. Scientists said the dramatic increase was due to intense acidification of the world’s Oceans and the sudden die-off of all the trees.
                So, what’s killing the trees? That’s the rub. We don’t know and we can’t stop it. If this keeps up, we’re finished.  The hospitals are full of older individuals with respiratory problems.  President Trump signed an executive order that stopped shipments of emergency oxygen to hospitals for anyone over the age of 55. I guess this is one time that AARP card doesn’t get you a discount.
Climate change deniers disappeared. Even Trump finally admitted it, “I always knew we were heating up the planet. You don’t have to be Bill Nye to see that! I’ll hire the best people to fix it.”
 
February 24th
I’m down to my last canister of oxygen. Nobody knows if more are coming. Militants hijacked yesterday’s delivery and fled to Canada. Scientists say the air is better closer to the poles. The trees are dead. I heard they were thriving in New Zealand. Their government sealed off the borders and nobody can enter, not even Trump. Asshole, serves him right. Ten billion dollars in his bank vault and he’d trade it all for a few thousand containers of oxygen or entry in New Zealand.
 
March 22th
I left my home in Cleveland Heights two weeks ago and I’m living near Wooster, Ohio, in army barracks with fifty strangers.  The guy next to me snores like a Bear. I’m trading a canister of oxygen to switch beds with a guy named Moses. He’s deaf, so the snoring won’t bother him. He won’t switch for free. Can’t say I blame him. Bartering is the new monetary system. That and sex.  My new friend Melissa says I’m an idiot. She would have traded the canister for sex. If I can’t stand witnessing what has become of the world, I might as well enjoy a few hours of sleep. At least in my dreams I breathe clean air.  There are marauding groups of thugs killing for sport, raping, looting, and scavenging for medicine. The most dangerous gang originated in New York City.  One of Trump’s campaign slogans is coming back to bite him in the ass.  He belittled Mexicans. Now they’re saying it about New Yorkers. It goes something like, ‘when New York City sends people out of their city, they’re not sending their best.  They’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems to the rest of America. They’re bringing drugs, and crime, and rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.’
 Those good people from New York are desperate. They weren’t killers a year ago. They taught 9th grade Algebra, or worked at Starbucks. They were law-abiding people taking care of their families. When society broke down, even mild-mannered people lost their sense of humanity. I’m hanging on by a thread. They’re calling us for our weekly shower. I hope I can write again.  
 
April 11th
Our entire encampment is out of oxygen canisters. The air stinks and we spend nights rummaging for food. Whenever there’s a southerly breeze, we hope that the wind will bring fresh air, but it hasn’t.  One of guys in here is a chemistry professor from the College of Wooster. He rigged up a few air scrubbers, like the ones from the movie “Apollo 13”. If we had more of them, we might survive longer.  I was on my way to see the camp Doctor yesterday and I fell down and busted up my knee. He said I’ll probably get an infection because he can’t keep the wound clean and we’re out of antibiotics.
 
April 26th
Melissa told me today is Arbor Day. If that isn’t the sickest joke of all-time, what is? How can you celebrate Arbor Day without any trees? My leg is infected, and there was talk of cutting it off. I told them to forget it. If this is the end, and there’s a heaven, I’m going with two legs.
I saw my ghost from the woods last night. I was dreaming. I swear it was real. I knew the voice right away. Mother said, “You’ve kept up with your writing. I’m proud of you. Someone will find it and retell the story of how Mankind’s reign on Earth came to an end.”
I was able to make out an outline of her face. It glowed with an opalescent splendor. I felt loved. That was the worst part of 2019. Love was gone from the world.  Mother forced the trees to commit suicide. I didn’t know trees could do that. No more photosynthesis. Even the tall ones in the back of the woods accepted their fate. They communicated with each other through a network of roots running from coast to coast, even beneath the oceans. Mother already planted seeds to grow new trees. That won’t help us. We’ll all be dead by the time they grow tall enough to replenish the atmosphere. She did the same thing with the oceans.  They’re making a comeback too. She found no pleasure in our near extinction. She wanted you to know that. She left a few pockets of humanity for those to learn the sanctity of life for all of God’s creatures. I’m pretty sleepy now. I can’t feel my leg and my lungs are weak, breathing is a chore. I’ve written enough. And that’s the way it is.
 
THE END
 
Richard Friedman explains why he writes what I writes:

''My company keeps track of bad guys who wear GPS ankle bracelets in Northeast Ohio. We also install breathalyzers in cars for people convicted of multiple DUIs. I like to think that I’m saving Ohioans during the day, and saving the Earth at night. Might as well aim high! We can’t continue to dump poisons in the air, ground, and water and assume there won’t be any consequences.''
 
''I write for personal reasons too. My descendants won’t know much about me. They won’t know I was a long suffering Cleveland sports fan, or that I liked Stevie Wonder and Pink Floyd, but they will be able to look on the shelf and read about what contribution I tried to make to this world.''

I'' write at night and on weekends. Trying to mix work, family time, and writing is tough. If I can write 1,000 words a day, I’m a happy man. It doesn’t always work out that way. I’ve never used an outline. I usually think of the ending of my stories first, then work my way through the plot points to get there. I try to read a book from the list of cli-fi authors on this site as often as possible. I admire your hard work and well written stories.''

"Burning Worlds," a new monthly literary column by one of America's top literary critics Amy Brady, at The Chicago Review of Books -- dedicated to examining emerging trends in 'Cli-Fi'

 
 
Coming Soon In February 2017: "Burning Worlds," a new monthly literary column by one of America's top literary critics Amy Brady, PhD, at The Chicago Review of Books -- dedicated to examining emerging trends in Cli-Fi

*** 12 columns a year by a top literary critic in the USA, Amy Brady, at the Chicago Review of Books, an online literary magazine with a wide readership coast to coast and overseas in Australia and the UK, too.

Amy's earlier clips at the Chicago Review of Books -- https://chireviewofbooks.com/author/dramybrady/



"Burning Worlds," a new monthly literary column by one of America's top literary critics Amy Brady, at The Chicago Review of Books -- dedicated to examining emerging trends in 'Cli-Fi'

''Memory of Water'' a cli-fi novel by Emmi Itäranta

Memory of Water by Emmi Itäranta 
           
The Memory of Water (2014) is a cli-fi novel set in a distant dystopian future where global warming has already done most of the damage it can, submerging cities and drying up fresh water. China is now the planetary power; the political and cultural bully. Whole nations have been swallowed and never spit out, and one young woman in occupied Finland, is trying to uncover a secret and keep a secret, and honor the past and create a future for herself. Her name is Noria and she tells her story slowly, poetically, often touching into a bit of Taoism or some other unnamed eastern philosophy. Like water, the story isn’t always linear. Like memories, it gets a bit misty and doesn’t really take a solid shape. So, it feels foreign, which is good, but also a bit tricky in that the reader is has a built in excuse to keep a safe distance from the setting and character. Despite that, the words on the page are pretty and they flow and I haven’t put it down yet.

Odds Against Tomorrow a cli-fi novel by Nathaniel Rich

Odds Against Tomorrow by Nathaniel Rich
            
Odds Against Tomorrow (2014) is a cli-fi novel by Nathaniel Rich takes place at an unspecified point in the future and follows Mitchell Zukor, a man obsessed with the inherent risks that surround us everyday. After being hired as a catastrophe consultant to an insurance company designed to help corporations avoid paying out, his philosophy is put to the test when a cataclysmic flood threatens New York City. Kirkus Reviews touted the book as one, “With […] fits of paranoia and eerily prescient scenario, this book is not comfortable reading, but it's also nearly impossible to put down”. 

''Forty Signs of Rain'' a cli-fi novel by Kim Stanley Robinson

Forty Signs of Rain by Kim Stanley Robinson 
           
Forty signs of rain (2004) by Kim Stanley Robinson, is a cli-fi novel that deals with a huge Antarctic ice shelf break off in the near future, and how it causes havoc through rising sea levels and violent storm patterns. The book focuses on how the event affects individuals and societies, and how science and government deal with it.

An eerily similar real-life situation just occurred In December 2016 when a massive rift in an Antarctic ice shelf was spotted by NASA. Although the crack has not gone all the way through yet, when it does it will produce an iceberg expected to be roughly the size of Delaware, with the potential to raise sea levels by almost ten feet over the next century.

Sunday, January 29, 2017

ANNOUNCING: -- ''The International Age of Trump Cli-Fi Short Story Writing Compilation'' (not a contest and no winners, but with an important purpose and chance to air your views as a short story writing in this Age of Trump, either pro or con Trump, all views accepted.)

ANNOUNCING: -- ''The International Age of Trump Cli-Fi Short Story Writing Compilation'' (not a contest and no winners, but with an important purpose and chance to air your views as a short story writing in this Age of Trump, either pro or con Trump, all views accepted.)
 
 
 
 
ANNOUNCING:
 
'The International Age of Trump Cli-Fi Short Story Writing Compilation''
 
(not a contest and no winners, but with an important purpose and chance to air your views as a short story writing in this Age of Trump, either pro or con Trump, all views accepted.)
 
Stories will be published with your byline on a designated Facebook Group Page and on a separate blogspot blog with Twitter announcing the entire list of stories with links to the individual stories by the individual authors.
 
Story length 800 - 2500 words.
 
Byline should be your real name.
 
Copyright belongs to you and you may publish the story elsewhere as well if you wish, but the story should be original and written in 2017 or 2018 in this Age of Trump.
 
Time frames may be the past, the present, the near future, the distant future. As stories come in, they will be published here and on a separate blog. Stories should be cli-fi in essence and they should use the words Trump or Age of Trump in the text somewhere, perhaps in the title, too.
 
Again, all POV are welcome so if there is a Michael Chrichton out there who wants submit a "State of Fear" kind of pro-Trump short story that is pro-Age of Trump, that is fine, too.
 
However, one suspects that most entries will be taking aim at Trump and the Age of Trump and his attitudes toward climate change issues.
 
Stories may be Time Travel or Current Days or Near Future Days, whatever your imagination tells you to write.
 
The compilation starts today, and will continue for a year or two or three or maybe 8 years. Time will tell.
 
Stories may be Cli-Fi Lite, Cli-fi Dark, Cli-Fi Deep, or Cli-Fi Humor. All writers are welcome, all nationalities, all languages, all ages.
 
Starting NOW! -- send in your stories by email to subject line ''The International Age of Trump Cli-Fi Short Story Writing Compilation'' to this email address: bikolang@gmail.com

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Professor Stephanie LeMenager on "What is Cli-Fi?" -- a 2 minute video clip from The Radcliffe Institute

video

see original video with very good sound but no captions

THIS IS THE TEXT OF WHAT PROFESSOR LEMENAGER SAID in this video: -- ''One of the things I am hoping to learn is are there actual solutions that can be found in some of the new philosophy, the new poetry and the new novels called cli-fi? Cli-fi means, simply, climate fiction. It is actually a vast array of different kinds of literary products, everything from memoirs that have some kind of emphasis on climate change, aso not necessarily fictive, maybe fictive elements as all m...emoir has, to novels to youth fictions -- oh, there's a great YA (young adult) series of fictions out there that, in various respects. touch on climate change -- to film. So climate fiction is a very broad multimedia, multigenre project that many artists and filmmakers and authors have been pursuing in an attempt to tell the story of climate change. My own feeling is that cli-fi could be be a much more capacious term. I really don't understand the distancing that some authors take from it. But I'm respectful of it. Other terms that have come into being beside it include Anthropocene fiction, looking at the moment of the Anthropocene when we really see ourselves driving global climate, global geology, and taking reflection on that iin fictional forms. Solar punk is another relatively young movement that's very positive and has a lot of focus on technologcal solutions at the local level. I associate that with youth maker culture, looking at kind of local solutions, local energy grids, ways of creating autonomous functioning systems of the larger structures of society break down. Climate fiction to me is about lloving the world, and not being afraid to continue to love the world, even in a moment of mass extinxction. But it's also about salvaging ourselves as a species, by which I mean remaking ourselves in a way that I hope means a more sound, sustainable and just future.'' --


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ETpspRg_ZAw



http://linkis.com/www.youtube.com/YdAcl1U

and here

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P9XuxHtfOxQ

Transcript in English to follow:

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

William Golding's early book of poems in 1934 when he was 23 years old

Evan Leach at Goodreads

            on William Golding's early book of poems in 1934 and when he was 23 years old
         
''This short book of poems is the earliest published work of William Golding (of Lord of the Flies and Pincher Martin fame). Published when the author was 23 years old. While some of these poems can come across as juvenilia, overall I enjoyed them. Perhaps my favorite of the bunch:

Non-Philosopher’s Song


“Lean, Logical and Rule of Thumb,
As parable to all that come,
Say Love and Reason live apart
In separate cells of head and heart.

But oh! my lady, she and I
We give philosophy the lie,
For when I tread with careful thought
The tunnels that my brain has wrought

Her sweet resemblance I do find
In the dim cavern of my mind;
And Reason has not named the power
That did constrain that lovely face
So like a wan exotic flower
To flower in such a sunless place.”


''These poems can be a bit oversentimental at times, and Golding’s best work in later years after the war was definitely yet to come. But this is a quick, pleasant read, and I would recommend this book of poems to fans of Golding’s more famous work, although be warned that this may be a hard collection to track down.''

''[Cli--fi novels] refashion myths for our age, appropriating time-honored narratives to accord with our knowledge and our fears.''

''[Cli--fi novels] refashion myths for our age, appropriating time-honored narratives to accord with our knowledge and our fears.''


A literary term dubbed cli-fi has been coined to describe a new genre of fiction that deals with climate change. A reporter for the Christian Science Monitor (via an NPR story in 2013) went further to say that “Cli-fi describes a dystopian present, as opposed to a dystopian future, and it isn’t non-fiction or even science fiction: cli-fi is about literary fiction.”

Given that many books discussed as being cli-fi are set in the future, one could go one step further to say that the genre is a subgenre of sci-fi and speculative in general fiction and of course related to climate change, whether it is set in the past, the future or the present.  At the same time, others consider cli-fi to be a stand-alone independent genre not connected to sci-fi at all. Time will tell.

In 2013, Rebecca Tuhus-Dubrow wrote an essay for Dissent Magazine, headlined "The Birth of a Genre: Cli-Fi" which discussed climate change in literature. Something she said about the cli-fi books included in the essay still resonates:

''[Cli--fi novels] refashion myths for our age, appropriating time-honored narratives to accord with our knowledge and our fears.''

Sunday, January 22, 2017

PW reviews KSR's new cli-fi novel here in an unsighned review by a staff reviewer or freelancer: "New York 2140"

''New York 2140 ''
by Kim Stanley Robinson. from Orbit Books, $28 (624pp) ISBN 978-0-316-26234-7





  • INTRO: ''Unlike J.G. Ballard’s cli-fi novel ''The Drowned World'' in the 1960s, which was also set on a mid-22nd-century Earth devastated by global warming but focused on the effects of that cataclysm on the human psyche, Robinson’s latest not-so- far -away-near-future cli-fi novel examines the political and economic implications of dramatically higher ocean levels, specifically their effects on New York City. '' [slightly edited by this blog]

    OOPS: ''The writing, ironically, is dry; several sections are exposition-heavy. ''

    DENSE PROSE: ''They not only explain why Lower Manhattan in the year 2140 is submerged but contain dense analyses of how investments in real estate could be evaluated via a “kind of specialized Case-Shiller index for intertidal assets.” ''

    MORE Cli-Fi THAN Sci-Fi THIS TIME: ''Such sections illustrate the comprehensive thought KSR has given to his imagined future, but they slow down the various interesting narrative threads, which concern a diverse cast of characters, including a reality-TV star who travels above the U.S. aboard an airship; the superintendent of the old MetLife building, which now contains a boathouse; and an NYPD inspector called in to investigate the disappearance of two coders. ''

    THE GOOD NEWS: "Readers open to an optimistic projection of how humans could handle an increasingly plausible environmental catastrophe will find the info dumps worth wading through.''

    PUB DATE: March 14, 2017

    Re-writing the world with eco-narratives - an essay on Cli-Fi by Marco Dotti



     
     
    Cli-fi

    Re-writing the world with eco-narratives

    -- a literary essay by Marco Dotti

    [Translated from the Italian by Kitty Rock in Rome. THANKS KITTY!]

    When the impossible is removed, even the most improbable remains have the taste of life. Maybe things are really like Mack Reynolds saw them in the 1960s, when he was a pioneer of social sci-fi and an activist in the US Socialist Party.

    Beyond Fiction

    In the XX century, science fiction had the task of dealing with an unlikely environmental apocalypse caused by global warming, floods, lack of water and food, nuclear deflagrations. All natural elements, water, fire, earth, air, contributed to the creation of dystopic futures. Then something happened. The Ecological Debt Day (EDD) has hit the calendar and imagination is not necessary anymore. It is enough to turn our head and have a look at what is around us to see that the old improbable scenarios have become reality.

    If in 1987 the day marking the end of the available global resources of energy and the beginning of the future generation's debt was estimated to fall on 19th December, in 2015 the Earth Overshoot Day was reached four months before, on 13th August. Moreover, all climatologists agree on considering 2015 the hottest year ever, since when experts started to monitor temperatures.

    No more prophecies are needed, a look around will do. In these conditions, even sci-fi is falling behind with a world that goes beyond Philip Dick's or J.G.Ballard's most bitter predictions. What future do we see now that the impossible has become possible? Now that, as Reynolds affirmed, disaster has the taste of life?

    We will not have any future if we can't rewrite it here and now. Built on the ashes of sci-fi and often confused with fantasy or dystopic novels, cli-fi came to the scene with the aim of finding solutions in literature.  Used for the first time in 2008 by the American journalist and activist Dan Bloom, the term cli-fi or climate fiction is gaining recognition as a literary genre and generating an increasing awareness and interest in the public.

    The Twilight Zone

    While some people in the 1960s were predicting immense floods, post-atomic glaciations and transmodern monsters, TV writer Rod Serling was ready to present the series which would influence the collective consciousness for years to come: ''The Twilight Zone.'' In the TV series, he described a planet devastated by global warming and for the first time the environment was at the centre of something more than utopia or dystopia: there were no more possible futures, only a present to change.

    In The Midnight Sun (1962), the 75th episode of the Twilight Zone's third season which is considered the forerunner of climate fiction, overheating generates social monsters living in a world where a few people decide for the rest of the population. Thefts, crimes, violence, and exceptional conditions mark a paradoxical return to a state of nature, the same state of nature that the philosopher Hobbes centuries ago defined as the condition of terror which any individual constantly risks to fall into.

    Nevertheless, in order to gain full recognition as a genre, cli-fi had to wait for another half century and a novel, Solar (2010) by Ian McEwan. The key point of the book is perfectly summarized by the words of the protagonist, Michael Beard whose claim draws the attention of the readers on the fact that virtuous, ecological behaviour is not enough to sustain civilization, it can only put off global disaster.

    States of fear

    As McEwan reminds us, active environmental demonstrations are not sufficient because “Virtue is too passive, too narrow. Virtue can motivate individuals, but for groups, societies, a whole civilisation, it’s a weak force. Nations are never virtuous, though they might sometimes think they are.”

    Greed prevails over virtue. This is why it is necessary to reinvest financial resources into clean and accessible energy. And this is also what makes cli-fi engaging, its ability not only to describe the present situation, but also to rewrite it in order to avoid the final catastrophe.

    The apocalyptic theme never fails to be part of the narration: it is either clearly approaching, as in Margaret Atwood's novels and Michael Crichton's State of fear, or in progress, as in Paul Auster's In The Country of Last Things, or it has already occurred, as in Jim Laughter's Polar City Red.

    Another key point in climate fiction is the constant condemnation of the technological drift.

    In Paolo Bacigalupi's The Windup Girl (2014) for example, calories have become currency in Bangkok, terrorism has become bio-terrorism and anonymous food-hunters look like old treasure hunters. In the MaddAddam trilogy, Atwood foreshadows a waterless flood in a world marked by the cult of transhumans.

    Beyond technophobia

    Cli-fi is characterized not only by narrations concerning the climate change, but also by a call to action: readers are called to understand it and do what they can to take an active role because, as the great scholar and traveler Robert Macfarlane wrote about 10 years ago in his article on the Guardian, "The effects of climate change are now perceptible in language as well as in degrees Celsius."

    In an article published on 27 July 2015 on Medium, the creator of the cli-fi term Dan Bloom reintroduced a crucial question, later debated at the Paris Cop21: "Can Cli-fi help keep our planet livable?".

    A question that somehow echoed what the environmentalist Bill McKibben had written in 2005 in the eco magazine Grist: "What the warming world needs now is art".

    In this sense, observed Bloom, rather than a narrative genre, cli-fi was born as a stimulus for the new generation of writers exploring this literary genre. There are in fact lots of cli-fi classes in universities all around the world, including children literature.

    "Cli-fi has allowed me to participate imaginatively in rewriting our future" has written on the Guardian Sarah Holding, British author of famous children's books.

    It is difficult to say if cli-fi will be able to redirect the world and influence the decisions of the governing international institutions, but it certainly offers its readers a space for real comprehension of global risks and reformulates the old question posed by Kant: does our world have a moral purpose? or is it our purpose to give it meaning? Doesn't literature have the responsibility of fulfilling this ultimate aim?

    Saturday, January 21, 2017

    When Michiko Kakutani speaks, the literary world listens!

    by staff writer

    Yes, When Michiko Kakutani speaks about cli-fi, the literary world listens!


     @MichikoKakutani  ''Can Science Fiction Save the Earth?'' can climate-change fiction shock readers into awareness of the dangers?

    7:52 PM - 4 Jan 2017


    And now a twentysomething Millennial journalist in the UK is writing a new post for a major British media outlet about the place cli-fi is taking in the publishing world, as she recently interviewed several top literary agents in NYC and London, as well as a few  cli-fi authors with an important cli fi novels coming out later this year, and those authors' editors in NYC and London -- among other people she spoke to -- and her piece will signal just how much the publishing worlds in the UK and the USA are now taking the rise of the cli-fi genre seriously in terms of agents actually being open to cli-fi novel pitches, editors being open to cli-fi novelists and their works, and in terms of authors themselves being interested in writing cli-fi works of literature.

    Her news article will be a scoop of sorts, as no journalist on either side of the pond (nor in Australia or New Zealand) has ventured into this territory: ''Is the publishing world warming up to cli-fi, or is it still cool to its rise?''

    Her piece will come with very good timing, as Michiko Kakutani, the top book critic at the New York Times and a legend in the New York publishing industry, recently signaled her own interest and acceptance of the new cli-fi genre in a recent tweet the other day recommending the Literary Hub's piece by James Sullivan on cli-fi's history, and her tweet read:

     @MichikoKakutani  ''
    Can Science Fiction Save the Earth?'' can climate-change fiction shock readers into awareness of the dangers?


    7:52 PM - 4 Jan 2017


     Now when someone of Ms. Kakutani's stature tweets a tweet like that, entirely unprompted, and out of the blue -- then it signals a major turning point in how the publishing world is reacting to the rise of cli-fi, ever since the
    NPR radio piece by reporter Angela Evancie set the literary and academic world on fire on April 20, 2013 when it reviewed two important cli-fi novels, Odds Against Tomorrow by Nat Rich and Flight Behaviour by Barbara Kingsolver.

    So get ready for this new piece coming soon from the UK, which will be online shortly as in international link, with tweets from all over picking the news article up and sending around the world.

    As readers of this blog know, literature is always a comment on the times in which we live regardless of the period in which it is set. This is potentially politically, economically, socially or now - environmentally. A growing subset within fiction --
    cli-fi -- is taking on what is the greatest threat of our age: man-made global warming.

    This expanding canon of climate fiction is seemingly genre-less, and does not adhere to concepts of high or low brow fiction. Cli-fi encompasses work from literary giants like Margaret Atwood through to Ian McEwan, authors who have produced extraordinary works with a great deal of vitriol about our continued abuse and mistreatment of the planet and our insatiable, unsustainable gluttony of its resources. And it's even got an abbreviation: ''cli-fi.''

    In our glib, 24-hour-news-cycle FAKE NEWS world, the unrestrained drip of an iceberg in the Arctic or the slow encroachment of water onto the land of southern hemisphere islands, debated in lengthy terms by austere scientists at dry conferences, doesn't strike us with the immediacy and urgency that it deserves. Perhaps that's where the responsibility of true challenge to an uninformed and inactive audience has fallen, as it always has, to the arts.


    - Advertisement -

    x
    Cli-fi has expanded in popularity in recent years but has roots in themes explored in fiction for decades. Jules Verne explored climate change and sudden atmospheric temperature drops at the end of the nineteenth century in The Purchase of the North Pole. JG Ballard created early climate dystopia with The Wind From Nowhere (1961) with themes of man-made effects on the atmosphere evident in the majority of his works. Most recently, Margaret Atwood's MaddAddam trilogy has considered the outcomes of continuing environmental breakdowns alongside questions about societal collapse and gender relations, tying the threads of social equality into a wider tapestry which demands attention. There are now ''climate change literature'' classes in universities as geographically diverse as Cambridge to Oregon.

    A brief Amazon search of "climate fiction" returns over 3500 results which not only reflects the emergence of a more socially aware genre of fiction but also a growing demand by consumers for cultural output which debates environmental issues.



    The  responsibility of the individual and the potential for turning the tide is one that is expressed very keenly within the cli-fi genre.



    Whether climate change exists within or outside of traditional genre limitations which it threatens to outgrow, it retains the ability to present either a dystopian future in which our apocalyptic ends will be a result of our shared responsibility or a utopia in which we can channel our potential into achieving a sustainable, egalitarian equilibrium with our environment. For literature, climate change and cli-fi is merely the new frontier.
     
     


    James Sullivan at Literary Hub summed it up well, writing:
     
    It wasn’t until Dan Bloom saw the 2004 disaster film The Day After Tomorrow, which imagined the sudden arrival of a new Ice Age, that he started thinking about the power of storytelling to rally like-minded citizens concerned for the future of life on Earth. A few years later, he coined a phrase: “cli-fi,” or climate fiction.
     
    He’s committed to promoting the idea that well-told stories are and will be critical to raise awareness about the implications of climate change. Unpaid and unaffiliated, Bloom has devoted the last several years to contacting writers, editors and literary gatekeepers, hoping to draw attention to his notion of cli-fi.
     
    “I’m basically a PR person,” he says.
     
    His idea of a genre for speculative climate fiction found some traction a few years ago when it was endorsed on Twitter by Margaret Atwood, the novelist whose science fiction trilogy, capped by MaddAddam (2013), dealt with a corrupt anti-environmentalist. Bloom acknowledges and applauds the broader genre of eco-fiction, popularized during the rise of the environmental movement in the 1970s and epitomized by such titles as Edward Abbey’s The Monkey Wrench Gang and, more recently, Barbara Kingsolver’s Flight Behavior.
     
    But he’d like to think of cli-fi as “an independent, stand-alone genre,” restricted to those works of fiction that consider the specific problem of human-made global warming. 
     
    That makes for a limited category. Yet there are examples as far back as Jules Verne, who imagined—in the 1860s—a future Paris struggling with a precipitous drop in temperature. That was a plot point in Verne’s “lost” novel Paris in the Twentieth Century, which went unpublished until 1994.
     
    Given the speed with which the phrase “climate change” (which actually dates back at least 50 years) has overtaken the environmental discussion in recent years, it’s perhaps not surprising that there’s been a surge in books that could be called cli-fi. Among them are Marcel Theroux’s Far North (2009), which the Washington Post called “the first great cautionary fable of climate change”; Ian McEwan’s Solar (2010), which won a UK literary award for comic fiction; and Nathaniel Rich’s Odds Against Tomorrow (2014), which imagines New York City flooded by a colossal hurricane.
     
    These are all examples of quality fiction that happen to take climate change as a shared theme. “As far as I’m concerned,” Bloom says, “cli-fi needs character-driven stories. It shouldn’t be propaganda novels.”
     
    A good story, he believes, will have the potential to attract not only climate activists, but also some of the deniers: “The whole point is to reach people with emotions, not just preach to the choir.”
     
    Next up, he thinks, is the forthcoming novel from the Hugo Award-winning science fiction veteran Kim Stanley Robinson. Due in March, New York 2140 submerges the great city under the water of the rising tides. “Every street became a canal,” explains the promotional blurb. “Every skyscraper an island.” How will the city’s residents—the lower and upper classes, quite literally—cope?''
     
    The book, Bloom thinks, might be the next phenomenon in the genre he created.
     
    “I think it’s going to blow the lid off.”

    Meet Harvey Paris in Connecticut: ''Working with Wood to Carve Smiles Nationwide''





    Meet Harvey Paris in Connecticut: Working with Wood to Carve Smiles Nationwide

     




    Harvey Paris, social worker, wood carver, mensch!

    by Danny Bloom, internet reporter

    FAIRFIELD, CONNECTICUT -- Harvey Paris is a Jewish chip-carver who hjas carved out a place where he can put his hobby to good use.


    It all started in 2006 when Paris decided to find a suitable hobby to keep him busy and quiet at home while his wife began studying for the rabbinate at Academy for Jewish Religion. The Fairfield, Connecticut couple  

    serve as president and vice president, respectively, of Jewish Family Service there.




    “We realized that I’d have 20 hours of downtime a week while Barbara did her homework,” Paris recalls.  reporter. “But it had to be a quiet hobby.”


    And quiet it was. And still is.


    Meet the man who turns wood into a communication tool, using chip-carving because of its simplicity and beauty.


    Chip-carving requires a hand-held knife, and you can do it while sitting on a chair in the bedroom, Paris told this reporter in a recent email interview across the seas, from my home office in Taiwan to his study in Connecticut.



    A Tzedakah box, carved by Harvey Paris




    ''I am 65 years old and have spend my entire working career as a social worker and director of  Jewish Family Service agencies," Paris told me by email after I contacted him about doing a story on him. " I received an MSW from Temple University, originally planning on attending the Deconstructionist Rabbinical College in Philadelphia, but ended up in Jewish Communal Services as a social worker instead. Prior to my MSW, I created my own BA in Judaic Studies from Harpur College, which later became SUNY Binghamton and is now called Binghamton University.''

    Born in 1951, Paris (more on this very interesting surname later) grew up in Brighton Beach in Brooklyn.

    When asked how he got into this hobby, Paris said he had I always attracted to wood and knives, but never did more than whittle a branch or two as a kid.

    "To make a long story short, my artistic career as an adult began when my wife Barbara enrolled in Rabbinic School at the Academy of Jewish Religion some ten years ago or so," he said. "My wife and I worked together (at JFS) and  lived together and generally spent all of our time together. It soon became clear that she needed approximately 20 hours per week of quiet time to 'study Torah' and I needed a hobby that I could do in a spare bedroom(our adult son was already out of the house). I wanted to play the bongo drums, but she ruled out anything noisy."


    A sample of his exquisite work -- a hobby and more than a hobby!

    ''My first thought was Murano glass, since we had recently traveled to Italy, but the thought of molten glass in our bedroom ultimately decided me against glass. I then started reading about wood and settled on chip carving since it only required one hand held knife. I found out about Wayne Barton, North America’s premier chip carver,  referenced in books I read and enrolled in a weekend class with him in 2006. At the conclusion of the class, he did something I never saw him do since, and I have studied with him for the last 11 years. He said something like “by the power vested in me, I now declare you an artist”. I embraced those words and have lived seeing life like an artist since then.''

    Paris not only is a seasoned wood carver now, he also has a good sense of humor, noting: ''My wife sometimes half-jokingly says that maybe the only reason she became a rabbi was for me to become a carver. She was ordained in April 2017."

    "I consider myself the world’s premier Jewish chip carver because I think I am the world’s only Jewish chip carver," he says, again with the humor. "Chip carving takes its name from  its process of removing chips of wood from the surface with a knife. I have applied the same technique to leather as well.'

    ''I decided to utilize my chip carving skills towards creating and beautifying Jewish ritual objects," Paris says.  "All of my designs are my own. My first creations were etrog boxes,  tzaddakah boxes  and mizrachs. I have since designed mezuzahs, challah boards and Seder plates. "
     
    ''At some point I realized that I could create works of art utilizing Jewish motifs and carved my  “Peace and Promise” series, in  where I carved Peace in 7 languages including Hebrew, Arabic and Yiddish, each with one of the Biblical seven species of vegetation as the background design. I then carved a Remembrance series involving 6 pieces reflecting on traditional Jewish values such as Torah and the 10 Commandments but also remembering  the Holocaust as well as family members. ''
     
    ''After I received my first commission to carve an aron and bimah for Wake Forrest University Hillel, I realized that even though I am only using 1 hand held knife, I could still carve big. During the last few years I have carved larger pieces (2’ x 2’) with subjects such as King Solomon, Revelation at Mount Sinai and my latest piece in 2017, I/aiah Had a Dream, a reference to the Prophet Isaiah and Martin Luther King, a piece concerned about race and religious relations in both Israel and America.''
     
    ''In 2015 I became interested in installation art and began searching for an appropriate medium that I could still utilize my carving skills on. I found wax tanned leather and have since created a 5’ X 7’ carved leather scroll highlighting the Moses at the Burning Bush Story. I have plans to double the size of the carved scroll to include Moses floating down the Nile and the Plagues.''
     
    Customers? Does Harvey Paris have customers and is there a waiting list?

     
    "To date, most of my customers are people who have wanted presents for special occasions -- either a customized wedding plate or a Jewish ritual object that could also be customized. I have also carved 3 arons for shuls and schools.   I am hoping that people will soon start viewing my carvings in both wood and leather as art as well as ritual or celebratory.''

    Paris says that he has not attended trade shows, but to get the word out about his work, he does have a dedicated website and recently started tweeting.

    His website(www.jewishcarving.com) has links to a radio interview he did as well as to newspaper and magazine articles about his work.

    When asked about his knowledge of the Hebrew characters he uses in his carvings, Paris had a ready answer at hand.

    "I studied some Hebrew in college at Harpur, and also at Gratz College in Philadelphia as well as in Israel for a semester," he said. "I don’t speak it well or read it well, but can carve in it very nicely. Carving, like writing, is all about lines."  

    Now about that family name: Paris?

    "Paris is our real family name, but it was obviously changed when my grandparents came through the immigration desk at Ellis Island long ago," he said. "It might have been Poiris. No one is certain."
     
    One thing is certain in 2017: Harver Paris carves wood with aplomb and pizzaz and his work is bringing smiles to customers nationwide.