The activist and public relations man Dan Bloom, who originated the term “cli-fi” in 2008, recently posed the question to me in an email: Is climate fiction a genre, a theme, or a motif? I laughed, because these are the kinds of questions that resemble the old saw about debating the number of angels who … More Is climate fiction a genre, a theme, a motif, or what?
Environmentalists share a kinship with devotees of religion the former prefers to ignore and the latter enjoys lampooning. Extremists in both camps have a matching emotional commitment to their cause an anarchist or Taliban mullah would admire. Both have a mystical attachment to an idea, one an invisible spiritual value of nature, the other a … More Review: A Being Darkly Wise
I attended an arts event the other day that reminded me why I don’t go to arts events. The event was one of a series of readings sponsored by a Seattle-area literary non-profit which I won’t name, but I respect it for its work with aspiring writers and young people. The event’s theme of climate … More Why arts events are like torture
I remember a lecture in a college philosophy class about a medieval scholastic who wrote that if you can imagine something, it’s possible for it to become real. The artist Picasso took the idea a step further by declaring, “Everything you can imagine is real.” But what happens if you imagine something, and then destroy … More Review: A Wrong Turn at the Office of Unmade Lists
Most books in the emerging genre of “climate fiction” fall under the label after the fact. Margaret Atwood, author of the Maddaddam trilogy, has embraced the “cli-fi” label, though she prefers “speculative fiction.” Climate activist and book lover Dan Bloom and editor Mary Woodbury have attached the label to dozens of books published as early … More Review: In Ark warns against benign eco-ideologies
One of my beta readers said that a draft of The Vault of Perfection, the sci-fi novel I’m currently revising, reminded her of Raymond Chandler‘s novels. It’s a compliment I hardly deserve, but it came as a surprise, because I’d never read any of his books. I knew he had pioneered the “hard-boiled detective” novel, … More Three things Raymond Chandler taught me about writing
Science fiction’s nautical tradition goes back to the genre’s origins. In 1870, French writer Jules Verne predicted the nuclear submarine in Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea, and he created one of the great megalomaniac characters in literature, Captain Nemo. My own love of sci-fi was sparked in part by the 1960s TV series Voyage … More Review: ‘Fleet’ revives sci-fi’s nautical tradition
Mark Nykanen, author of Primitive, Carry the Flame, and other environmentally themed novels, and Mary Sands Woodbury, editor at Moon Willow Press and the website Clifibooks.com, offered their thoughts on climate fiction and its future in publishing. (Material is edited.) What is “climate fiction,” and is it a new genre of fiction? Nykanen: I like … More Thoughts on climate fiction from a writer and a publisher
Writers, especially new writers, are on the lookout for rules that will guarantee, or at least enhance the potential for success in the artistic or commercial marketplace. If you’re interested in writing in the new genre of “climate fiction,” here’s a few boundaries that will help you understand your role as climate storyteller. 1. Climate … More Six rules for putting climate change into your fiction
Climate change is too abstract for most people. Scientists focus on impacts decades out, while hedging predictions with “may” or “could.” Activists often turn these prognostications into apocalyptic visions, and the hyperbole turns people off. When something truly frightening occurs, such as a super typhoon or powerful late season tornadoes, an audience ready to hear … More Review: Water’s Edge a Plausible YA Climate Yarn
A science museum ought to be a temple to experimentation and odd ways of thinking, because that’s where new knowledge is often born. But you wouldn’t have guessed that an institution as prestigious as the London Science Museum would offer an altar for a literary experiment, though Shackleton’s Man Goes South has plenty of scientific … More Review: Shackleton’s Man Goes South
A literary event in April 2014 has me thinking that climate fiction may have arrived in Seattle. Richard Hugo House, a non-profit organization that supports writers with educational programs and events, has posted the schedule for its annual Hugo Literary Series. The org has invited three writers–Nick Flynn, Rick Bass, and Jennine Capó Crucet–to write about … More Seattle literary event may debut climate fiction
Here are some character sketches from my novel for young adults, Bet: Stowaway Daughter. Lisbet “Bet” Lindstrom – As the daughter of an experienced sea captain, 13-year-old Bet is familiar with life at sea, but only through the stories her father and his friends have told when they visit her home in Seattle. She’s not … More Character Sketches from Bet
Hell Around the Horn, by Rick Spilman. Old Salt Press, 251 pages, soft cover ($10.99), ebook ($2.99). In the midst of reading Rick Spilman’s fine first novel, Hell Around the Horn, I learned that the replica tall ship HMS Bounty was lost on October 29 in Hurricane Sandy, along with two of her crew. As … More Hell Around the Horn
Gather the Shadowmen: The Lords of the Ocean, Mark M. McMillin. Hephaestus Publishing, 298 pages softcover: $14.95, ebook: $4.99. Benjamin Franklin may have single-handedly saved the U.S. from destruction in the Revolutionary War by persuading France to join America in an alliance against the British. But in the years leading up to his triumph, he … More Gather the Shadowmen
Betrayal, by Julian Stockwin. U.S. release date: October 2012. Published in the U.S. by McBooks Press, 320 pages, hardcover, $24.00. Most authors of nautical fiction from the Napoleonic Era place their characters somewhere in the Northern Hemisphere, usually the Atlantic or the Mediterranean. That’s where most of the historical action was, of course. By contrast, … More 13th Book in Kydd Series
Dramatic retellings of the struggle between Great Britain and France under Napoleon often end with Nelson’s victory at Trafalgar, as if everything naval in the Napoleonic Wars that happened after the great battle was hardly more than a long epilog. But as author Julian Stockwin and many historians see it, the battle opened the gates … More Review: Julian Stockwin’s “Conquest”
Nothing has done as much to revive the popular interest in the Golden Age of Piracy than Disney’s Pirates of the Caribbean franchise, which started in 2003 with Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl. That’s good for maritime history geeks; at least it got people asking interesting questions when they visit … More Yo-No-No!
2010: Moby Dick, with Barry Bostwick and Renee O’Connor. Screenplay by Paul Bales, adapted from the Herman Melville novel. Not rated, though some scenes of severe injury. Ok, maybe I’m being a bit harsh: the new “re-imagining” of the classic Herman Melville novel Moby Dick doesn’t entirely blow. It mostly blows. The premise of the … More Yarrr… It blows!
Titanic 2, with Shane Van Dyke, Brook Burns and Bruce Davison. Written and directed by Shane Van Dyke. Not-rated, though some mild scenes of injured people. Fyddeye’s mission to survey all things happening today related to maritime history means we have to examine all media remotely inspired by historical events, even if it’s just the … More A Sea’s Worth of Schlock