When I began writing POLLY some seven years ago, my hazy vision of the future world it would depict was informed by increasingly insistent social, political, and climatological trends. But I had not heard of “cli-fi.” I hadn’t heard of cli-fi until a few months ago, in fact. The new genre has caught on, it’s clear. With worldwide recognition of the phenomenon of a fast-changing climate, a new thematic focus in fiction has emerged: the futuristic depiction of those changes and their disruptive, if not catastrophic, consequences.
Will this kind of new attention make a difference in cultural attitudes and public policy? I think it will, particularly for younger readers–by stirring their imaginations with visions of grim outcomes whose possible beginnings are apparent today, in the nurturing world we know. A debate last month in the New York Times presents a variety of views on the topic.