Feature: Clifi: A New Kind of Sci-Fi

Sarah Holding SeaRISE bookcoverSurrey based children’s author Sarah Holding introduces a rather different sort of science fiction, as epitomised by her SeaBEAN trilogy, the final part of which has just been published…




I am very happy to making a stop on my SeaRISE Blog Tour here on Sci-Fi Bulletin and to have this opportunity to share with you some of my thoughts about an interesting new development taking shape within sci-fi, namely ‘clifi’.

Clifi, defined as ‘climate change fiction’, is only just starting to register as a new genre within the publishing and film industries. Most people still look at me quizzically when I mention the word, but it is gaining ground and even has a Wikipedia entry now, for what it’s worth! One academic from the University Oregon, Stephanie Le Menager suggests that cli-fi is a new literary genre that will help us prepare, psychologically, for global climate change. It is a new form of literature which truly faces the unknown.’ Perfect then, wouldn’t you say, for a thought-provoking children’s book series?

SeaBeanAs the third and final part of my children’s time travel trilogy SeaBEAN, the premise of SeaRISE is that, having come through all their previous adventures, Alice and her St Kildan classmates now ‘know’ too much about their precious time travel device, the C-Bean, and one night are abducted 100 years into the future where they find themselves imprisoned inside it. Once Alice manages to escape, she discovers that their island has become an abandoned, alienating and devastated place that is not only half under water, has virtually no wildlife left, lacks sufficient oxygen to breathe properly, and is what’s more the focus of something rather sinister and illegal. Alice’s challenge is to figure out a way to get everyone back to 2018, and in so doing, restore the earth’s delicate ecological balance.

I have a confession to make. It wasn’t until couple of weeks after SeaBEAN, the first book in the trilogy, was published in September 2013, that I came across the term clifi. I was browsing in a branch of Foyles and there was a table with books on display under a sign saying ‘clifi’. Having not heard the term before and struggling to work out what the books laid out had in common, I asked the bookstore manager to explain.

SeawarAfter he told me, I went home to with a funny feeling that I had stumbled across something that would be important to my work. I dug around a bit on the Internet that evening and found out that much to my delight some of J G Ballard’s and Margaret Atwood’s books have become regarded as clifi. I then got in touch with the guy who coined the term, Dan Bloom, and by March of this year I found myself running a series of clifi events in the secondary schools in my local area, Kingston under Thames, with none other than the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, Ed Davey MP, who had kindly endorsed SeaBEAN at my publishers’ request.

I approached his campaign manager about putting together an event for Climate Week 2014, and suggested that we use clifi as the driving force to get pupils thinking not just about the effects of climate change now, but in a hundred years’ time, like my fictional scenario for SeaRISE. I had this hunch that we could get the pupils to write stories that went way beyond the physical changes to consider the kinds of human predicaments they could land us in. The results were fantastic, and I quickly realized that clifi was not only an exciting genre to be writing within, it was also an extraordinarily effective way to get young people to engage with climate change creatively and speculatively for themselves, taking the subject matter beyond a meaningless set of classroom mantras and generating instead a life-changing experiential awareness.

Sarah Holding’s latest book SeaRISE has just been published by Medina Publishing.

SeaRISE blog tour

1st December – Sci-Fi-London

2nd December – Sci-Fi Bulletin

3rd December – Fiction Fascination

4th December – Feeling Fictional

5th December – Cherry Mischievous

6th December – The Overflowing Library

7th December – Book Passion for Life

8th December – Bookaholics Book Club

9th December – The Secret Writer

10th December – Addicted to Media

11th December – SeaBEAN Trilogy Official Website


3 thoughts on “Feature: Clifi: A New Kind of Sci-Fi

  1. An excellent article! If you’re interested in cli-fi, it would be great to see you at the cli-fi Facebook group, Cli-fi Central https://www.facebook.com/#!/groups/320538704765997/

    Posted by Paul Collins | December 2, 2014, 11:46 am


  1. Pingback: diary | The SeaBEAN Trilogy - December 2, 2014

  2. Pingback: SeaRISE Blog Tour 2014 | The SeaBEAN Trilogy - January 14, 2015

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