climate fiction

Hieroglyph Contributors Featured in New Climate Fiction Anthology

October 8, 2015 in Hieroglyph

Cover of the anthology "Loosed Upon the World," showing a cloudy sky rendered in dark blues and shades of gray.Climate fiction is a burgeoning genre in the crowded literary landscape – but it has been making waves lately. Think pieces on the growth of this particular flavor of storytelling abound, films like Snowpiercer use “cli-fi” as a backdrop for action and adventure, and earlier this summer the award-winning digital magazine Matter featured a series of essays and short fiction exploring futures shaped by climate change, including a lengthy contribution from Margaret Atwood.

Now, a definitive collection of short climate fiction can be found in the new anthology Loosed Upon the World, edited by John Joseph Adams. Featuring stories from new voices and luminaries in the field, including Atwood, Kim Stanley Robinson, Paolo Bacigalupi, and several Hieroglyph contributors, the book provides provocative, sometimes-startling images not so far removed from today’s reality.

In his introduction to the anthology, Paolo Bacigalupi posits that overly sunny techno-optimism is too easy a position to take in the face of a looming crisis. Dreaming of a futuristic innovative solution is easier than mindfully confronting the social, cultural, and political challenges that bedevil us right now — several of which are examined by the authors included in the collection.

Stories featured in Loosed Upon the World include “The Precedent,” in which author Sean McMullen offers a vision of future eco-justice that rivals 17th century Salem; Tobias S. Buckell’s “The Rainy Season” considers one particularly strange side-effect of bioengineering a species to deal with human pollution; and Charlie Jane Anders’ “The Day It All Ended” (originally published in the Hieroglyph anthology) provides a satirical view of rampant consumerism.

While none of the twenty-six tales here provide a turnkey solution to the problem of climate change, the collected works offer a human perspective on a topic that is so often saddled with divisive rhetoric. While it’s all too easy to ignore policy briefs on climate change, narratives about the struggles of our fellow humans have power to move and unite us.  Storytelling might well change the future – but it requires an engaged audience to turn imagination into action. Loosed Upon the World and its writers have taken the first step in publishing this collection. The stories within remind us that what happens next is up to all of us.

 

Author

Bob Beard is a fan of fandom. From Browncoats to Bronies, SCA members, Trekkers, Steampunks and more, Bob is passionate about understanding the performance and identity practices within various fandoms as well as creation of experiences for members of these groups to publicly advocate for themselves and their ideas. Bob is a Marine Corps veteran and double alumnus of Arizona State University, with a master’s degree in Communication Studies and a bachelor’s degree in Interdisciplinary Studies with a humanities emphasis.

Margaret Atwood and Hieroglyph Authors Explore Climate Fiction

July 30, 2015 in Hieroglyph

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Global Day of Action Climate March in South Africa, 2011

Science fiction often heralds a change in our collective understanding of the world. From H. G. Wells’ The Time Machine to Toho’s Godzilla, the genre has provided us guideposts as well as enormous flashing yield, slow, or stop signs to help us navigate the path forward. Today, the rapidly expanding subgenre of “cli-fi” is beginning to fulfill this dual role of helpful guide and warning signal.

Cli-fi (following the naming convention of “sci-fi”) is climate fiction, and like the Victorian and Atomic Age analogs mentioned above, it asks its audiences to imagine and react to a future shaped by forces on a global scale – in this case, the disruption of ecological and social systems through climate change and other forms of environmental degradation. (To learn more about climate change, and the role of storytelling and art to shape our responses to it, visit the Imagination and Climate Futures Initiative at Arizona State University.)

The growing popularity of this genre might also serve as a teaching moment. In a new think-piece, Margaret Atwood wonders if cli-fi might “be a way of educating young people about the dangers that face them, and helping them to think through the problems and divine solutions?” It’s a noble goal, and many of Atwood’s fellow authors are rising to the challenge.

Medium.com’s digital magazine Matter is publishing a series of cli-fi short stories and essays by authors, scientists, reporters, and others, responding to Atwood’s challenge of grappling with a world shaped by climate change. You’ll see some familiar faces too, including Hieroglyph contributors Bruce Sterling and Charlie Jane Anders and Hieroglyph editor Ed Finn (seriously, that guy is everywhere).

We’re super excited about these ideas, and we look forward to exploring them with you. To that end, we’ve set up a new cli-fi conversation on the forums as a space for all of us to discuss, unpack, interpret, and share our big ideas around the intersection of climate change, human civilization, and speculative storytelling. See you on the boards!

 

Image courtesy of Oxfam International, used under a Creative Commons license.

Author

Bob Beard is a fan of fandom. From Browncoats to Bronies, SCA members, Trekkers, Steampunks and more, Bob is passionate about understanding the performance and identity practices within various fandoms as well as creation of experiences for members of these groups to publicly advocate for themselves and their ideas. Bob is a Marine Corps veteran and double alumnus of Arizona State University, with a master’s degree in Communication Studies and a bachelor’s degree in Interdisciplinary Studies with a humanities emphasis.