The End Has Come

  • How did knowing you’d have to write a Review on the blog change the way you read our books? How did it change the way you prepared for class?

Whenever I started the books I knew I had to pay closer attention to the details of the book, because after I was finished I would later then need to recall those details. I tried to make sure that I was paying close attention to anything about climate change and how it effected the story and characters. One of the things that it made me do, that I never do and hate doing, is dog-ear my pages. If I came across a particular page that contained a lot of climate change then I would fold the page so I knew to come back to it after I was finished reading. It made it a lot easier when I was eventually writing my blog posts.

  • How did writing in this format affect your writing process and writing style? I’m really interested to hear how writing in a blog format was different from writing you’ve done in other classes, whether English classes with more traditional papers, other courses with online writing (blog, discussion board, etc.) or otherwise. Did the possibility of a wider audience – your classmates, or anyone who stumbled upon our blog – change the way you wrote?

I really enjoyed the blog format, more than I thought I would at first. It made me feel more comfortable sharing my feelings about the book in a less formal way than essays. In other classes I always had to write very structured papers and my opinion wasn’t really included. I really enjoyed the blog because of the fact that I was able to share my opinion of the book as a whole and how I felt about it.

 

  • How often did you read the Reviews posted by your classmates? Did you gravitate towards reading particular writers?

After I posted my reviews I would always check out what other people were writing about. It was interesting to read their reviews and then hear them in class. I have to say that I always enjoyed reading what Bobby had to say. I think that he was successful at the blog format as a whole and I enjoyed the touches of humor.

  • I’d be excited to hear you reflect on whether and/or how your experience with and attitude towards the blog changed over the course of the semester. Did it live up to its promise? Was the blog element of the course better or worse than you hoped or feared?

I think that at first I was a little hesitant with the blog. I didn’t have any experience with blog format so I didn’t really know what was expected from my posts and how to even approach it. After the first few posts and observing what other people were saying, I became a little more comfortable with the format and the subject matter. I think it totally lived up to its promise. The blog was a great way to post our thoughts on the books and have an opening for discussion. It was definitely better then what I had feared. I really wish that other classes of mine would have done it as well.

  • Finally, if you’d like, reflect upon the possibility that the work you’ve posted on the blog is now available for anyone to read, even now that the course is over. Do you think this blog could be a useful resource for future readers curious about the topic?

I think that it would be a great resource for anyone interested in the topic of climate fiction and climate change in general. The blog contains really great points about the books and its relation to climate change. It is also a source that is not completely made up of one single person’s opinion. Anyone who comes across our blog will find a variety of opinions on the topic not just one particular view.

Overall it was a great class that I really enjoyed. Thanks!

Blogging

Having the blog be the primary way to communicate, outside of class, was a different experience than I’m used to. I’ve never had to write for a “broader audience,” and I think I grew accustomed to it. With that said, I definitely think I wrote in a way knowing that other people than the professor would/could be possibly reading my reviews. I was thinking of what I’d be writing, during the different readings, and felt like I almost came more prepared in terms of structuring my thoughts simply because of the public nature of the posts.

I agree with some of the other posts that say it gave the people who don’t talk as much an outlet to express themselves, as I am definitely in that group. I have always been able to express myself better in writing, and when I have time to lay out my views. The blog (along with papers) allow me to do that, and in the blogs case, frequently. I believe it was a great way to have everyone share their opinions on the books, in an open forum. I would read the other students stories as I could, but I do wish I had more time to comment on them, as there are some amazing writers in this class!

I also concur that having the blog made me more interested in news stories, current events, and articles regarding climate change etc. Things I might not have paid as much attention to if I was just reading to “read.” Having the blog so easily accessible made me more apt to post an article that I found particularly interesting, funny or relevant. That part was very enjoyable, and I enjoyed when other students would post articles as well, as I got very interested in the topic over the course of the semester.

Science Fiction & “Capitalist Realism”

In the Los Angeles Review of Books, a great review of a new special issue of the journal Paradoxa about the state of science fiction. The review starts by name-dropping “cli-fi” and the writing of Kim Stanley Robinson and Margaret Atwood before moving into its description of the collection:

The more sophisticated offerings among these postapocalyptic fictions often highlight how end-of-the-world fantasies can often perpetuate triumphalist narratives of global capitalism, and this is one of the key launching points for Mark Bould and Rhys Williams’s recent special issue of the scholarly journal Paradoxa. This special issue — called Sf Now — examines cutting-edge trends in science fiction literature and theory, and it offers several articles that expand on Mark Fisher’s notion of “capitalist realism,” or the idea that challenges to capitalist norms are often preemptively rejected as fruitless and unrealistic.

sf-now-243x366If you ask me, the possibilities and power of “cli-fi” should be evaluated by how well it provides alternatives to this line of thinking — “capitalist realism” — and directly challenges its limitations. As we discussed in class, I think Kingsolver is actually doing this rather well in Flight Behavior if we account for her audience, mainly in the two scenes where Dellarobia goes shopping (first in the dollar store, later in the thrift store) — so it doesn’t always have to come in the form of science fiction.

You can read the Introduction to the special issue online.

Talking about Climate Change and Game of Thrones

 

White_Walker_2x10

This morning Brittany Patterson of ClimateWire published a great article in which our class (and our moments of despair) is featured: Can ‘Game of Thrones’ get people to talk about climate change?

I’d honestly be eager to hear your thoughts in response to this question. We’ve taken on similar questions in class, but this is more immediate: how can making connections between trending pop culture (like Game of Thrones — 8 million people watched the Season 5 premiere three weeks ago) aid discussion about climate change issues and themes?

If I teach this class again, I’ll find a way to include Game of Thrones and the larger discussion it’s provoking:

The parallels between the television drama and both the political and scientific discussions related to climate change are striking, said Manjana Milkoreit, a research fellow at Arizona State University. Milkoreit conducted an analysis of how the television show is being used by a handful of “scientists, science communicators and geeks” to break through the hard-to-explain science to engage Americans about the dangers of rising global temperatures.

Your Final Thoughts

Blogging

As you’re composing your final “Audit” of the blog element of the course, here are some questions I’m interested in hearing your answers to. No need to answer all of them – and please do take it in whatever direction you’d like – but hopefully these questions will provoke some thoughts:

  • How did knowing you’d have to write a Review on the blog change the way you read our books? How did it change the way you prepared for class?
  • How did writing in this format affect your writing process and writing style? I’m really interested to hear how writing in a blog format was different from writing you’ve done in other classes, whether English classes with more traditional papers, other courses with online writing (blog, discussion board, etc.) or otherwise. Did the possibility of a wider audience – your classmates, or anyone who stumbled upon our blog – change the way you wrote?
  • How often did you read the Reviews posted by your classmates? Did you gravitate towards reading particular writers?
  • Did knowing that you had to post on the blog affect the way you read (and watched) stuff unrelated to the course readings?
  • I’d be excited to hear you reflect on whether and/or how your experience with and attitude towards the blog changed over the course of the semester. Did it live up to its promise? Was the blog element of the course better or worse than you hoped or feared?
  • Finally, if you’d like, reflect upon the possibility that the work you’ve posted on the blog is now available for anyone to read, even now that the course is over. Do you think this blog could be a useful resource for future readers curious about the topic?

Young Adult Cli-fi Top 10

In the Guardian, author Sarah Holding gives her Top 10 Cli-fi books. The list is focused on Young Adult and children’s lit, which is where cli-fi is really taking off. Early in February, Holding wrote a piece for the Guardian about why she considers her own work cli-fi. The next time I teach this class, we’ll definitely read something geared towards the YA market.

Coined by climate activist Dan Bloom to capture an emergent literary genre dealing with life on Earth after it’s been ravaged by climate change, this is fast becoming the most exciting and challenging subject area driving YA literature. Although catastrophic by nature, it is far from mere disaster-movie fodder; these books are posing new questions about what it means not just to survive but to be human. Don’t be put off by the preponderance of floodwater or the scarcity of basic resources – what you’ve got here are fast-paced, intrepid adventures into the unknown, most of which, interestingly enough, have a strong female character leading the way.

Frame-filling portrait of a young Polar Bear male jumping in the pack icePictured above: an ice-hopping polar bear, something our blog has been missing to this point. Photo credit: “Polar Bear AdF” by Arturo de Frias Marques – Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

 

Why Climate Change is a Human Rights Violation.

This article (for me) was a new take on how we view climate change. Especially relevant from our numerous conversations in class regarding, “What can we do?” and “Who is to blame?”. This piece is very comprehensive, and makes compelling arguments for its case. Here are some samples of the article.

“Negligence on the part of those governments and corporations towards peoples who have been displaced or further impoverished by climate change is a form of violence. That negligence has included severe underfunding for climate adaptation and mitigation efforts, and relative inaction or slow action on curbing overconsumption.”

“Citizens of the world have to press charges for human rights violations or even war crimes, not just environmental degradation —for both current and past harms. We have to look at figures of how many inches the ocean will rise and how many more storm events will wipe out coastal economies, and directly relate human lives to those numbers. We need prioritize the people whose homes and livings are going literally underwater, and make the heavy emitters (corporations and rich nations) pay.”

I’m Not Really Feeling The Fever

After finishing Hurricane Fever I have to say that this book was just…okay. I think it was an interesting, fast paced, action packed book that left me only slightly entertained. It felt more like a movie and less like a book. I found myself enjoying the overall story, but I also wanted more details overall. After reading posts from other people I can see that they really enjoyed that it was a story that wasn’t focused on climate change, but I found that I really wanted there to be more on climate change. The most important issue that the book discussed about climate change was the increasing amount of storms that they faced.

What I found to be interesting was the way that the characters were handling the climate change, especially in countries that were practically underwater. One of the more common facts about climate change that people know about is the rising water levels and how parts of countries will be under water. I thought it was interesting that in the book these countries still tried to survive and make life work in these areas that are halfway underwater and constantly hit with storms.

One thing that I really did like about the book was the fact that the book was set in the future, but it still felt like a world that I could understand and relate to.  I also like the futuristic and upgraded things in the book, like the concrete houses to brave the storm, the quick healing first aid kits, and the wet suits that help people survive in the water. I thought these were really awesome touches to the story that made it futuristic, but still keep it grounded in a world that I recognize.

Overall this was not my favorite book, but I think it was successful in creating a realistic version of the world after climate change.

Hurricane Fever – Fast and Fun

“Hurricane Fever,” the fast-paced action/thriller written by Tobias Buckell, was certainly an entertaining quick read. The novel focuses on “Roo” bent on revenge, investigation and a nothing to lose mentality. The hurricanes themselves could very well be another character in the book, and cause much chaos to the islands/boats that Roo, and others inhabit. I am perhaps bias in the fact that my favorite novels, are indeed this type. Anything action, suspense and tension driven enthralls me. I enjoyed the setting, (present-day) in this novel, more so than a future that I can hardly envision (ie “The Wind Up Girl”). “Forty Signs of Rain”, having the same (more or less) ‘present day’ pretense, was realistic, and also effortless for me to conceptualize. Combining climate change and a revenge story worked well together for this conspiracy Roo set out to unearth in the novel. As the LA Book Reviewer (Nisi Shawl) says, “Weaponization, genetic targeting – it’s not giving too much away to say that such dangerous concepts are fleshed out easily enough here that readers will readily understand how chillingly close they are to becoming real.” In this type of novel, the reader is able to get easily engaged with the plot, characters and their overall purpose, along with seeing the devastating effects of climate change that envelop the story, even if it’s just to move the story towards its conclusion. I believe Shawl sums it up nicely saying “So this book can be read as a liberating re-visioning of the spy and near future ecothriller genre in addition to as a story falling comfortably within their boundaries.” Shawl goes on to say if “Hurricane Fever” were made into a movie, “that movie would earn even more than the book could…” I feel that is quite true of this type of story, action plays well on screen, even with climate change and ‘ecoterroism’ at the forefront. Would more people pay attention to it? Maybe. I do think this type of novel could be a good segway by bringing some larger issues to the forefront of people’s minds.

Reference: LA Review of Books – Nisi Shawl – The Shock of the New Normal

 

God’s Gardeners Oral Hymnbook

When The Year of the Flood was released in 2009, it was accompanied by an album composed by the musician Orville Stoeber, who set the “Hymns” of God’s Gardeners to music. Here’s a video in which Stoeber sings and plays “The Garden” (the first hymn in the novel) while Atwood looks on:

 

There’s a lot more here.