Guest Post By Maria Ramos: How “Cli-Fi” Comments on Energy Crisis, Climate Change, and Overpopulation

Guest Post By Maria Ramos: How “Cli-Fi” Comments on Energy Crisis, Climate Change, and Overpopulation

Welcome back Maria Ramos! Today, she would like to talk to you all about another aspect of the science fiction landscape – a lesser-known subgenre known as “cli-fi”. Embracing dystopian narratives and speculative fiction that looks at the future through the lens of environmentalism and climate change, cli-fi is very similar to other sub-genres of science fiction. In the end, its all about cautionary tales and agitating for change. But I’ll let her explain it, as she’s better at this sort of thing!


Dystopian fiction has always provided a means of commenting on and critiquing the political and social statuses of the eras they were created in. From George Orwell’s 1984 and Animal Farm to the more recent P.D. James’ The Children of Men and Kazuo Ishiguro’s Never Let Me Go, the fiction changed with the prevalent issues of the times, from the cold war and communism to concerns over reproductive rights. Throughout the genre the fear of too much government control over some or all aspects of our lives has remained a central theme. More recently, focuses have turned to nature and the negative effect that humanity has on the environment.

While existing for decades, the recent upsurge in dystopian fiction has taken a turn into the newly coined sub genre of “cli-fi” or climate change fiction, which depicts current and very valid concerns over environmental, overpopulation, and global warming issues. Much of this fiction also targets a young adult audience. Perhaps this is to encourage the next generation of scientists and technology experts to work with the current generation in seeking solutions for our environmental issues. Such problems include a steady increase of the amount of carbon dioxide in our atmosphere since 2007, creating what the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has reported are the highest levels in 650,000 years. Some cli-fi books even tackle this very issue head on.

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Two of the best-known examples of young adult cli-fi are The Hunger Games trilogy and The Maze Runner trilogy, both with blockbuster movie counterparts. In each of these, the characters live in a world depleted of natural resources because of some sort of man-made, or at least man-assisted, environmental disaster. While The Hunger Games doesn’t provide the specifics of what caused the world to become Panem, it’s clear that a central government controls the limited resources that are left while the general population struggles. While criticized for ignoring such issues as racial tensions, it nonetheless ticks the boxes of government excess leading to suffering for the general populace.

In The Maze Runner, the cause for the world’s destruction is more specifically attributed to solar flares, which devastated the majority of the planet and left the few survivors destitute. Further government meddling then caused many of those survivors to degenerate into a crazed and animalistic existence in which they tear each other apart. While neither of these trilogies, nor many of the other works of cli-fi, provide solid solutions for fixing the world once it’s gotten to the post-apocalyptic point of the stories, they remind us that consequences will remain devastating if we do nothing now.

The term “cli-fi” is popularly attributed to Dan Bloom in 2008, but nonetheless can define works of fiction created as early as the mid-20th century. Before there was such a term, authors such as J.G. Ballard were producing works of fiction describing a post-apocalyptic world caused by the effects of global warming, works such The Wind from Nowhere in 1961, The Drowning World in 1962, and The Burning World in 1964. Describing different worlds ravaged by hurricane-force winds, melting polar ice caps, and worldwide drought, respectively, such works provide early warning of the ravaging effects of global warming if left unchecked.

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More recent examples that existed before 2008 include the first novel of Margaret Atwood’s MaddAddam trilogy, Oryx and Crake, written in 2003. Set closer to the present, this trilogy delves into the possible detrimental effects of biotechnology on both the environment and on the human inhabitants of the planet. It also takes aim at multinational corporations that ignore and/or deny their role in global warming and environmental disasters, alluding to real issues faced by today’s environmentalists worldwide. Other examples of more adult-oriented dystopian novels that address the possibility of environmental catastrophes include The Road, the excellent post-oil-crisis novel The Windup Girl, and The Children of Men.

Whether the rise in recent works of cli-fi is having any effect on our actions toward being more environmentally responsible or not, artists and writers have always found ways to provide commentary through entertainment. In the case of saving our planet, any means of getting the message across is welcome and necessary.

Featured Guest Post: “Contemporary Dystopian Novels Worth the Read” by Maria Ramos

dystopiaGood afternoon folks! Today, I have the honor of featuring a guest writer, something that I have never done before. Her name is Mario Ramos, a fellow writer that has been following storiesbywilliams and asked to add her thoughts about this contemporary dystopian literature craze. Take it away, Ramos!

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The teenage wastelands of The Hunger Games and Divergent have made their way to the big screen and people can’t seem to get enough of it. However, many others seem to think science fiction isn’t what it used to be. Despite the glut of novels and films catering to young adults today, there is still plenty of well-written dystopian novels (without teenaged love triangles). Although they do not fall into the same particular category of classics such as Brave New World, there are still worthy examples written in the past few years. Check out some of them below:

The Handmaid’s Tale (1985) by Margaret Atwood:

Christian fundamentalists stage a terrorist attack in America, allowing them to suspend the Constitution and install a patriarchal theocracy. This story follows Offred, a concubine for the elite class who undergoes a sexual awakening and joins a resistance movement against the fundamentalists. This critique of repressive religious fundamentalism has taken on added significance since the 9/11 attacks, showing us how a crisis can lead to authoritarianism. Because it speaks to these important issues, the novel remains relevant today. The book was adapted into a film in 1990 starring Natasha Richardson and Robert Duvall.

The Children of Men (1992) by P.D. James:

A global disease has made all men infertile, leaving the human race unable to reproduce. Without any hope for the future, English society collapses and falls under the control of a ruthless dictator. Criminals are dumped into prisons to kill or be killed and the elderly are compulsorily euthanized. This book is an admonition against the cynicism of our times. If we lose hope, we accept all kinds of callousness and oppression and lose sight of the human life’s value. In 2006, a film adaptation starring Julianne Moore and Clive Owen was released.

The Road (2006) by Cormac McCarthy:

A man and his son brave an ashy lifeless landscape populated by cannibals in the hopes of escaping the harsh black winter. Through their actions and words, the man and the boy constantly emphasize love’s power. No matter how bleak things get, the father always looks out for his son and encourages him to maintain hope no matter what. This powerful message resonates with many families, making this novel a contemporary classic. The 2009 film adaptation received critical acclaim with Viggo Mortensen’s excellent portrayal of The Man.

 The Windup Girl (2009) by Paulo Bacigalupi:

In 23rd century Thailand, a genetically engineered humanoid organism, an economic hitman and representative of a biotech mega-corporation, a crooked Chinese refugee, and a leader of an armed environmental enforcement agency cross paths in The Windup Girl. This novel tells a tale of intrigue that critiques environmental exploitation, reckless genetic engineering, the international sex trade, unfettered capitalism, and globalization. The Windup Girl combines a compelling story with dense thematic material, making it a quality science fiction read on par with the classics.

Ready Player One (2011) by Ernest Cline:

In 2044, people spend most of their free time in Oasis — a globally networked virtual reality that transports users to any world they can imagine — as a way of escaping a scrappy existence on an impoverished and depleted planet. The story follows Wade Watts, a high school student that embarks on a digital Easter egg hunt designed by the deceased creator of Oasis in order to inherit his vast estate. Ready Player One shows a world in which people alienate themselves through video games, instead of trying to solve the world’s problems.

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Despite recent films focusing on romance and teenaged angst, there are still many novels that generate conversation over our concerns about the world today. This subgenre of science fiction showcases our anxieties about the future and has raised questions surrounding the concepts of totalitarian governments, environmental catastrophes, and technological overreach. Many have become aware of these concerns and have been trying to positively change the way we impact our Earth. From companies making direct energy more accessible to NASA using advanced technology to help the environment, these dystopian fictions are helping save the world — one novel at a time.dystopian list

New Movie Trailer: Mockingjay Part I

https://i0.wp.com/www.celebitchy.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/mockingjay0.jpgThe final installment of The Hunger Games trilogy is coming soon. Or, at least the first half of it. And the first trailer has arrived. As you can see from this just-under two minute promo, the revolution that began at the end of Catching Fire is now in full swing. The games are now over, in both the literal and figurative sense, with Katniss and the President openly sparring for the future of Panem.

However, it is also clear that the capitol has Peeta (Josh Hutcherson) in their clutches and is using him to stop the revolution before it spreads. And true to form, Katniss wants to go and rescue him. Man, that guy is truly annoying! He’s like the male version of Bella, another superfluous character who is always in need of rescuing. And worse, the love triangle is becoming disturbingly like that Team Edward/Team Jacob crapfest!

mockingjay-set-photos-16In any case, Julianne Moore is new to this film, playing the role of Alma Coin (leader of the resistance). Liam Hemsworth reprises his role as Gale, Woody Harrelson is back as Haymitch; and of course, Donald Sutherland is back in the austere and hauntingly-voiced role of President Snow. Part I airs this Nov. 21st, and Part 2 won’t be released until sometime in 2015.

Seriously, what’s with these money-grubbing Hollywood producers and YA franchises? First Harry Potter, then Twilight, and now this!

Honest Trailer: Divergent

https://i1.wp.com/i.ytimg.com/vi/qPUZo3dQSEM/maxresdefault.jpgI’ve been waiting for the good folks over at Comedy Junkies to mock the release of this movie. No disrespect to the fans of the series, but is this not the exact same concept as The Hunger Games? And was that not the exact same concept as Battle Royale? And is this latest adaptation not just a completely transparent attempt to keep cashing in on the current wave of YA dystopian fandom?

Well… sure! But what were expecting? Original ideas and adaptations based on the strength of the stories alone? Where’s the money in that? Enjoy the trailer:

WordPress Tag!

wordpress_cloudMy thanks to Rami for tagging me in the latest round of WordPress Tag! This means I have to answer the following questions and then send some tags out of my own. So lets get this party started…

What are you currently working on?
Having finished with my second zombie book (Papa Zulu), I’m now working full-tilt to finish my anthology of science fiction short stories. It’s called Flash Forward, and contains short pieces of fiction that deal with subjects ranging from climate change, militarized borders, drone warfare, neural downloads, cybernetic augmentation, space travel, and cosmic evolution.

How does your work differ from other authors in the genre?
These days, most authors I know are writing in the dystopian sci-fi genre. Somehow, with the growth of the YA market and the popularity of books like The Hunger Games and Divergent, the whole dark future theme seems to be making a big comeback. But I want to deal with future scenarios that are in keeping with current trends, addressing the impending Technological Singularity, Climate Change, and how the interaction of these two forces will shape the coming decades and centuries.

Why do you write what you do?
Because I have this obsession with recreating the kind of things that inspire me. The books that have done the best job of that in the past were always works that captured the zeitgeist of the age, making predictions about the future in order to tell a story about the here and now. It’s been my hope for almost two decades now that I could create something that would do the same thing for others.

How does your writing process work?
My mind is constantly dreaming of things that inspire me and looking for new ideas. I try to feed it as best I can with research and the latest in science, tech, history and geopolitics, until such time as a breakthrough comes and I begin to plot it all out. Then, once I have a framework in place, I start field testing it out by writing the first few chapters and seeing if it has traction. Once that’s done, the story begins to evolve and take on a life of its own. Some don’t make it to fruition, but others do.

And now I tag three writers:
I nominate the following three people for the next round:

Goran Zidar

Emily Guido

Deirdra Alexander

Good luck!

The Starving Games

kinopoisk.ruJust learned this little gem is available for watching online. It’s called the The Starving Games, a not-so-subtly named satirical take on The Hunger Games. In addition to spoofing that sci-fi, dystopian YA hit, they also tackled franchises like The Avengers, Harry Potter and Oz the Great and Powerful to pop culture characters and celebrities like Taylor Swift, PSY, LMFAO and Honey Boo Boo.

Directed by Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer, the people who brought us Spy Hard, Scary Movie, Date Movie, Epic Movie, Meet the Spartans, Disaster Movie, and Vampires Suck, this movie promises to be entertaining for people who don’t mind seeing popular franchises being slammed, and don’t care much about good writing, acting, or coherent story lines.

Enjoy the trailer, and then check out the full movie (if you’re so inclined) over at Youtube:

New Movie Trailers: Catching Fire and Riddick

It’s been a boon week for movie news and previews, and I’ve found myself quite behind on a few things. Good thing it’s not my job to stay current, otherwise I would have been fired a long time ago! But as a genre fan, I feel the need to keep up with sci-fi news and pass it on whenever possible. And lately, the big news items have had to do with upcoming adaptations, sequels, relaunches, or all of the above.

catching-fire-movie-posterSo to save some time I thought I’d do a two-fer trailer post today and feature the newest trailers for Catching Fire and Riddick. Though I’m sure the former needs no explanation, for those who haven’t read or seen The Hunger Games, this would be the much-anticipated sequel. Still trying to finish this book myself, mainly because I promised I’d review the whole trilogy. Still, the plot for this one is really quite clear.

After winning the 74th annual Hunger Games, Katniss Everdeen and Peeta are called upon to do the Victory Tour, an event which occurs between games and showcases the winners. During the tour, Katniss is made aware of how their victory has inspired dissent, which puts her in a compromising position. Between fulfilling her role as a symbol of resistance and keeping up appearances, there’s plenty of high drama to be had!

riddick_posterAs for the latter, this would the latest installment in that particular Vin Diesel antihero engine known as the Riddick franchise. It began with Pitch Black, a movie who’s script was originally proposed for Alien 3 but rejected in favor of the whole prison planet plot. It went on to become a cult classic, spawning the much higher-budget Chronicles of Riddick.

In this third installment, its clear the movie makers have decided to recycle the plot from the first movie and have once again put Riddick on some remote planet where he is being pursued by Bounty Hunters and Necromongers. No sooner is he captured that hostile aliens show up and they all have to work together to survive. As he said in first movie, “It ain’t me you gotta worry about now.” At least Karl Urban is back, and Katee Sackhoff (Starbuck from BSG) is part of the cast!

Catching Fire is set to be released on  November 22, 2013, while Riddick will be premiering on September 6th. Enjoy!