If you want to understand current anxieties about the future then all you need to do is turn to science-fiction, and historically this has been true. Sci-Fi isn’t a way to predict the future but it is a way to understand what we think about the current state of humanity. Unsurprisingly, there is so much stress about the climate crisis that enough writers have created a new subgenre called climate fiction. Cli-Fi captures the anxiety we’re collectively experiencing about the environment while also being a useful teaching tool.
Atwood has become a major figure across the cli-fi literary universe. She not only helped the term catch on when she tweeted it in 2012, but her 2013 novel MaddAddam has been a popular teaching tool which largely summarizes the need for the genre in the first place. The book tells the story of a group of environmentalists, known as the gardeners, who rebuild the world after a global pandemic. The novel shows how fragile our global systems are. “People need such stories, because however dark, a darkness with voices in it is better than a silent void,” Atwood writes. The book was part of the curriculum for a course on cli-fi at Brandeis University in 2015.
Another notable book in the genre is Omar El-Akkad’s The American War. The book was listed as required reading in a 2018 freshman-level course entitled “Narrating Climate Change” at New York University. The 2017 novel is set in America’s second civil war when southern states defy a law that outlaws the use of fossil fuels. The book is told through the lens of Sarat Chestnutt, who is from Louisiana and is displaced by the rising waters of the Mississippi River. El-Akkad shows the life of an American climate refugee.
The Multiversity Collective wants you to think of a better world by exploring alternatives.The collective was created to explore the full potential of Toronto by imaging future worlds (or alternatives to today) that are fully aware of -and engage in – multiple ways of knowing. It’s a call to envision a better city and a better world through diverse multicultural thinking. Their first project on empowering creative communities launched this week and runs to the end of 2019 at Oakwood Public Library in Toronto.
On the cusp of 2020, more than a dozen science fiction creators will be germinating wild ideas at the Oakwood Village Library. Novelists, hardware hackers, game creators, and more will be doing workshops for apocalypse preppers, teaching lo-fi sci-fi podcasting, convening socials for sex workers, and generally inspiring those who believe in social change and a diverse future.
Every Thursday this Fall, 6pm at Oakwood Village Library – come rewrite the timeline with us! Free and all are welcome! Made possible by support from the Toronto Arts Council’s Artists in Libraries Program. For more details – please visit the individual event listings.
It seems that most ideas in the realm of Science Fiction stay as fiction but it’s not too rare that “out there” ideas from Sci-Fi can become real. At the Sci-Fi blog IO9 they have complied a list of some seemingly crazy things that turned out to become real last year. The list range from the really cool to the more banal that can occur everyday.
9. An Electric Car is the Year’s Best
If anyone ever doubted that electric cars were the future, those concerns were officially laid to rest in 2012. Tesla’s luxury Sedan, the Model S, captured one of the auto industry’s most prestigious awards by taking home Motor Trend’s Car of the Year honors. It marked the first time that an electric car has taken the top prize — a vehicle that doesn’t run on gas or have an internal combustion engine.