Warming Up to Old Cli-Fi

Sunning in the Arctic
Image courtesy PhilanTopic
I spent much of the last week or so re-reading a partially completed science fiction novel with a working title of “Carbon Run” that apparently fits into the new sci-fi sub-genre known as “cli-fi,” short for “climate change fiction.” I wrote the work in 2008, then set it down after I lost my way in a narrative sense. I even wrote a few blog posts in 2008. Frankly, I didn’t know where the story was going. After reading the 12 chapters and notes again, some of it is drek, but some of it works pretty well, IMHO.

Though the named sub-genre is new (though some of the ideas go back to 1962), its authors speculate on the impact of human-caused climate change on the earth and human society. Here’s a few of my ideas in Carbon Run:

  • Governments have passed what are collectively called the “Carbon Laws” banning the production, distribution, and consumption of petroleum, natural gas, and their refined products.
  • A law enforcement agency enforces the Carbon Laws and other laws meant to protect biodiversity. It’s the EPA mated with the NKVD.
  • The polar caps have completely melted, as have all the earth’s glaciers and near-surface permafrost.
  • After a devastating war in the Arctic, a new commercial area called the Arctic Free Zone allows nations to share resources above the Arctic Circle.
  • Because fossil fuels are banned, a second Great Age of Sail has flowered; enormous sailing ships carry on trade across the top of the world.

Friends have suggested I pick up the old manuscript and rework it. I’m going to reorganize it, rewrite some of the crappy parts, rename and round out the characters, and so on. Watch this space for progress reports.

Do you have a favorite cli-fi story?

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