Saturday, June 11, 2016

Award-winning nature writer and novelist Sharman Apt Russell goes ''cli-fi'' at LOCUS sci-fi magazine today in a very nice guest post



Over at Locus magazine, a very fine sci-fi mag, Ms. Sharman Apt Russell does a Guest Post, headlined – “BFF: Science Fiction and the Environmental Movement”



Climate change: from JG Ballard’s The Drowned World (1962) and The Burning World (1964), science fiction has always addressed Marsh’s 19th -century fears of “climactic excesses,” “the shattered surfaces” of Earth, and the extinction of many species, perhaps even our own.

.....The 21st century has seen a spate of such books, coined by the phrase ''cli-fi'', tweeted by Margaret Atwood to describe her own work (MaddAddam Trilogy).

Two recent ''cli-fi'' books point to two very different approaches: Green Earth (2015) by Kim Stanley Robinson and The Water Knife (2015) by Paolo Bacigalupi.

Green Earth is an updated, mashed-up version of previous books Robinson has written in his series Science in the Capitol. This is global warming in the developed world, with likeable characters who are healthy, smart, powerful, and privileged. Kayakers paddle on the National Mall as Washington DC floods. Hikers in California mourn the loss of favorite alpine meadows. We read this book while traveling in an airplane, or at home surrounded by our middle-class stuff, and we think—yes, I recognize these people. This could really happen! Green Earth is deeply, weirdly—refreshingly—hopeful. Its most science-fictiony leap may be the thought experiment of American politicians and scientists teaming up to save the world together.

The Water Knife by Paolo Bacigalupi is Mr. Hyde to Robinson’s Dr. Jekyll. The United States has fallen apart into warring states, with refugees from the south desperately trying to reach the north. Bacigalupi draws directly from scientific research (environmental writers William DeBuys’s The Great Aridness and Marc Reisner’s Cadillac Desert) about what extreme drought will look like in the Southwest, mixes into that the horrific violence of the drug cartels happening along the border now, adds everything we know and feel about corrupt politics and amoral multinational corporations—and the result also feels frighteningly real. Yes, we think. Get the family in the car! We’re moving to Canada.


About the Author

Sharman Apt Russell’s most recent nonfiction, Diary of a Citizen Scientist, won the 2016 John Burroughs Medal for Distinguished Nature Writing, whose recipients include Aldo Leopold and Rachel Carson. She is the author of some dozen books published in a dozen languages. Her debut science fiction Knocking on Heaven’s Door (Yucca Publishing, 2016) begins in a Paleoterrific utopia and spirals out to some very strange places. Knocking on Heaven’s Door is available in audible as well as print and digital.

For more information, go to


No comments: