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Science Fiction and Climate ChangeA Sociological Approach$
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Andrew Milner and J.R. Burgmann

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9781789621723

Published to Liverpool Scholarship Online: January 2021

DOI: 10.3828/liverpool/9781789621723.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM LIVERPOOL SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.liverpool.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Liverpool University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in LSO for personal use.date: 21 September 2021

A Theoretical Interlude

A Theoretical Interlude

(p.23) Chapter 2 A Theoretical Interlude
Science Fiction and Climate Change

Andrew Milner

J.R. Burgmann


This chapter begins by discussing the relationship between SF and what Daniel Bloom dubbed ‘cli-fi’. Cli-fi, it argues, is best understood as a sub-genre of SF and the crucial shift between the pre-history of climate fiction outlined in the previous chapter and this contemporary sub-genre has been the development of a near-consensus amongst scientists about the potentially disastrous effects of global warming. It proceeds to a critical account of how the notion of the Anthropocene was developed in the sciences, misrepresented in ecocriticism, and challenged in the social sciences by rival concepts, such as the Capitalocene and the Chthulucene. As an alternative, it proposes a sociology of literature derived from the work of Raymond Williams, Pierre Bourdieu and Franco Moretti. The chapter then proposes an ideal typology of climate fictions arranged around five measures of formal utopianism, which derive substantially from the work of Tom Moylan, and six measures of substantive response to climate change, derived from real-world discourse. This results in a grid of thirty logically possible types of climate fiction. The chapter concludes with a brief discussion of narrative strategies and tactics available to cli-fi, citing Nevil Shute’s nuclear doomsday novel On the Beach as a model.

Keywords:   Cli-fi, Anthropocene, Capitalocene, Chthulucene, Eutopia, Dystopia, Shute

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