Cli-Fi and the Future


At the risk of starting all my blog posts with the phrase “Recently I’ve…”, I’m going to go ahead and start this one that way. Recently, I’ve begun working on some cli-fi stories.

Cli-fi, for those as yet unindoctrinated, is an abbreviation of climate fiction. It includes stories such as the MaddAddam trilogy by Margaret Atwood (Oryx and Crake, The Year of the Flood, MaddAddam), and the Hollywood blockbuster The Day After Tomorrow. Cli-fi also pops up in a number of other titles, such as David Mitchell’s excellent book The Bone Clocks, and is unsurprisingly a quickly growing genre. Cli-fi serves as an excellent way to make sense of the absurd catastrophe that awaits us; stories that teach us about humanity’s folly without losing us with statistics on humidity and ocean currents.

The stories I’ve been writing began with the tentatively titled Watering the Desert, about a Chinese-Botswanan who works at a vertical farm in the sand-covered capital in the year 2048, and have expanded to cover the years 2023 – 2087 and Sweden, Chicago, Sabeto (of course), China and Abu Dhabi. I haven’t actually written most of them, but I’ve begun work on the Chicago story (about an environmental protest that escalates into a riot in 2032) and am nearly halfway through the Sweden story.

In the Swedish story, a Bangladeshi climate refugee (much of the country is predicted to go under or be consistently washed out by the monsoons) is in an autopiloted truck carrying methane from the defrosting tundra when it gets hacked and jacked. As he watches by the roadside, a police drone comes and regains control, before tasering the would-be hijackers from the sky.

Anyway, I’ve been thinking I would actually probably be pretty happy if I could turn that into a job, maybe not full-time but a part-time project I can return to. And if I have any success, do more of it? As long as I can live abroad.

I also recently had the scary thought that I could live in the US for awhile. But I think this is mostly because living in a conservative village setting requires that I compromise or suppress many of my obnoxiously liberal beliefs, and I’m currently feeling a little tired of doing that.

But still, what I tell most people is mostly true: I want to move to Kigali, Rwanda, and do environmental work. That’s pretty fucking vague. But you know what? I’ve got a year (at least) so I’m not too concerned.


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