Sunday, August 31, 2014

Print books, even ebooks, are dead; movies still work their magic

by Staff Writer & News Agencies

NEW YORK/LOS ANGELES - September 1, 2014

With films like "Noah" and "Into the Storm" and "Snowpiercer" -- and
"Interstellar" coming in the late fall -- Hollywood has seen the
handwriting on the wall and embraced climate themes in full
technicolor. Call the movies ''cli fi'' or disaster thrillers,
whatever. There's more to come in the film world.

But while Hollywood and studio marketing people (and online social
media reporters covering new film releases) have welcomed ''cli fi'' into
the fold, the entrenched powers in the literary world controlled by
book editors in New York and London seem to be aloof to all this and
show little interest in the rise of the cli fi genre term.

I am not sure why, but maybe it has to do with literary critics and
book section editors feeling that literature is a ''sacred calling''
and only the all-powerful editors -- as ''gatekeepers'' -- can decide
what's real and what's not in the literary world. So be it.

The more I thought about the disconnect between the literary world of
the book industry compared with the open arms in Hollywood, the more I
began to realize that the print novel is basically dead -- in the
rising waters of global warming -- and has little power anymore to
influence people or impact society.

The New York and London book review section editors are for the most
part just a bunch of gatekeepers
and the gatekeepers don't seem to care about climate change. They have
their own agendas. Like
being cool and trendy and avantgarde and the like. Climate change is
apparently not on the menu at the hip restaurants where they dine in
Manhattan and London.

So I now feel that the real power of cli fi to change the world, to wake
people up lies in Hollywood and world cinema, indie cinema as well.
Print book are basically dead in the water, dinosaurs. And Hollywood
and the media covering Hollywood, much more than the
literary gatekeepers in New York and London and Washington and Los
Angeles, are getting the cli fi message much better and much more
directly than the print media gatekeepers.

A sea change is happening: Hollywood and the media covering Hollywood
have really embraced cli fi and that is where the real wake-up call
power of public awareness now lies.

Novels about climate change still will have a place in our culture but
a very limited one, and one getting smaller day by day in this digital
world of 500 channels and multiple YouTube distractions. Speculative
fiction and eco-fiction novels still find readers. Look at Margaret
Atwood; look at Barbara Kingsolver; look at Kim Stanley Robinson; look
at James Vandermeer; look at David Brin.

I've noticed this sea change as Hollywood directors and PR mavens have
recently become much more with it, in terms of "getting" the cli fi
message. When Time magazine did a three-page cli fi spread on summer
cli fi movies in its May 19, 2014 issue what went worldwide, I began
to notice the way the print and online media were handling the new,
mushrooming cli fi genre.

After the Time article by Lily Rothman came out, the New York Times
''Room for Debate'' forum picked up the Hollywood angle for cli fi
movies, assigning academics and experts to talk about films such as
"Snowpiercer" and "Into the Storm" and the upcoming "Interstellar."

So I came to realize that Hollywood is where cli fi can have its
biggest impact, since print novels are dead in the water (see above)
and the few that do get published by the major publishers are reviewed
only by the gatekeepers at the New York Times and the Guardian in

I see a big future of cli fi movies in Hollywood. Big.

Look around in the social media world: From Time to the New York
Times, from Mashable's Andrew Freedman to the New York Post's Page Six
gossip column, there has been more ink about Hollywood and cli fi than
anywhere else.

The Big Six book industry is blind to cli fi. Books are dying. Few
people read anymore, on a large scale. Novels have little impact
anymore. Movies reign supreme, and this is where I see cli fi blooming
now: in Hollywood. Hollywood players get it, the Hollywood media gets
it, and books are dead and movies rule the day now. Publishers Row is
dithering. London, too.

So I am following my gut instinct and my media radar and hoping to see
cli fi genre turn into a real bonanza in the realm of Hollywood film
directors and producers and writers. There is a big future for cli fi in

Movie directors get it and they want to wake up the world. And make a
little spare change along the way, sure. It's a business. So cli fi
has found its true home not on Publishers Row in Manhattan but in
Hollywood, and just in time. And this is a good

Cinema has the power to impact the world over important issues of
climate change and global warming. Novels have no such power anymore.
Print is dying, cinema is alive!

Of course, speculative fiction novels and eco-fiction novels still
have a place in our culture, and many of these novels will be adapted
as screenplays and see the light of day as popular movies, so writers
still have a role to play in all this.

As a climate activist and PR guy, I take the cli fi genre very
seriously, and I now see that Hollywood is where cli fi belongs, front
and center.

Do the math: movies reach millions. Most midlist novels reach 3,000
people, if that many.



A professor in Florida tells this blog:

''It’s not either/or. Popular culture is extremely important and influential — hey, it’s “popular.” It reaches everyone, cuts across all strata of income and education and age and cultural background. But even the producers of pop culture need to go somewhere to refill the wells of their imagination, as a poet  once said.

I have had this conversation many times with friends and colleagues. I have friends in Hollywood who tell me I should stop writing academic stuff and try to go on TV with my ideas about environmental literature. 

I recall a conversation with a colleague, a prominent literary essayist, who is proudly a mid-list writer, but whose extraordinarily thoughtful work often reaches key thinkers in more mass-audience genres. So  again, we’re not talking either/or. I prefer to believe in ''a ripple effect''. We need ways of reaching the broader public. We also need people who are trying to push the limits of science and art in ways that may not be of immediate interest to general audiences.

I enjoy reading on an e-reader, I prefer to teach mostly paperless classes here in Florida (to the extent that that’s possible), and I like listening to popular culture and watching movies.
But I also persist in finding print culture, even physical books, to be meaningful, useful veins of communication. It’s not all about sheer numbers of readers, viewers, or listeners.''

Christopher Nolan's film ''Interstellar'' is a cli fi movie set for Nov. 7 release



Sept 5, 2013

The plot for the upcoming Christopher Nolan film ''Interstellar'' is a
hush-hush affair. All we know is that it will star Matthew
McConaughey, be set in the future and likely flash some serious
special effects.

A small paper out of Canada smuggled out a bit more concerning the
film--it's anotherclimate change scare piece.

So Breitbart News checked in with Paramount Pictures, one of the
studios behind the project, to see if it could confirm the information
or squash it like a silly Facebook rumor.

Paramount would prefer not to comment on this one.

Hardly a squash.
COMMENTARIAT: ''Even if Nolan is a good director, this kind of cli fi
movie would greatly fail on its premise alone. As it is nothing more
than a generic ''climate change fear monger piece'' with good CGI, in
other words BORING."

''I read the first draft of the 2008 script by Chris' brother. And
INTERSTELLAR not ''a preachy climate change'' film. But it is a cli fi
movie, for sure.'' - MORE COMMENTS ONLINE


''Another climate change movie.

I have seen enough of these damn movies and they say the exact same
thing over and over again while being completely wrong. Even Asylum
films knows better than these moronic Hollywood fear mongers.

Here is a clue for them, people only watch the disaster movies for the
destruction of everything, not the shoehorned message in the movie.
After all, no one watches these movies for their lame meaningless fear
mongering message.'' - COMMENTARIAT

''A simplistic global-warming fear film? Let's be honest, folks: that
is NOT the Christopher Nolan we know.

Even the unverified Canadian story said NOTHING about man-made climate just said "climate change". For all we know, an asteroid
hits the earth, or something.

Nolan is not a man to make simplistic trash. We should really have
more faith in him, by now.

 I think it is likely going to be something that will remind you of
inception. Climate change will likely be an undertone as business was
in Inception, but that will hardly be what we remember from the


Hollywood loves environmentalists/climate change films so... shouldn't
"no comment" by the Studio PR people be inconclusive?

I can see it going either way:

1) It is a traditional climate change cli fi movie, which Paramount
will happily market as such in due time. No comment means "We are not
ready to admit this yet!"

2) Nolan will surprise us by bucking the trend (no idea how likely
that is) by addressing climate change differently than most of
Hollywood... and "No comment" is Paramount trying to prevent angry
activists making things harder before it needs to be.


''I won't see it.
Nolan just blew his credibility with me as a film maker.
Who do these people think they are to preach to me about their climate religion?
Paramount is going to bite it with this one.''

''I read the 2008 draft, it has nothing to do with liberal global
warming. In the draft it's a dystopian future, there was a war with
China, the word is being rebuilt with robots and there's a bacteria
killing crops and causing climate problems (which would cause climate

''If the plot is "hush-hush"...why the heck would Parmount comment on
it to BH (as if they're hiding a damaging secret)? Even if the story
is accurate, you can be pretty sure keeping the plot under wraps has
nothing to do with Hollywood-of all places--being embarrassed about a
climate change story. More plausible is they don't want ten direct to
video knock offs to hit production this early.''
''They can build a ship that can enter a wormhole, but they can't
build a greenhouse to grow food?''
''World renowned scientist, and genius, Kip Throne, is an executive
producer on the film. Originally Interstellar was going to be made by
Stephen Spielberg and Jonathan Nolan, Chris’ brother, was set to write
the script. Spielberg ended up backing out and Chris signed on to
direct, keeping Kip Throne on as an EP. In an interview with Mr.
Throne in 2007, when Spielberg was still scheduled to direct, he
talked a little about the movie and said that the story is about the
warped side of the Universe. He also said he was made an EP on the
film to bring good science into it and make sure that everything is
realistic and does not stray into the absurd. This should make
Interstellar one of the most realistic time traveling movies to date.

Last summer other details of the movie were released, saying the movie
has to do with ****climate change****. The world, apparently, can not
grow enough crops because of the changing weather and scientists must
leave the planet to find somewhere else to settle.''


Christopher Nolan's 'Interstellar' Will Tackle Climate Change

2013年8月31日 -
Director Christopher Nolan's upcoming sci-fi flick Interstellar will
reportedly deal with climate change and its effect on the future of


On November 7th, the movie "Interstellar" will be released in the
United ... First, the film has a realistic issue in that climate
change could be our ...

For his next film "Interstellar," director Christopher Nolan has done
a ... "Set in the future, the movie details the toll climate change
has taken on ...


There needs to be a conflict or challenge in a movie in order for
there to be an uplifting moment right. If the story was "oh hey, we
invented a thing and traveled" it's not a terribly interesting story.

Global warming is a real issue .....that can cause food shortages.
Over-population is a real issue that defies political leanings.

As long as Christians have the book of revelations and Scandavians
have Ragnarok, and Buddhists have endless cycles of suffering and
want, there will be doom and gloom from every angle.

What we know of the plot so far is that crops have become infected due
to climate change, in turn causing a crop famine. Like all intelligent
sci-fi movies....

. ... the rest of mankind from starvation and climate change side effects.

A good thing, too. Climate change is running out of control, and we
may need a new planet soon.

The trailers add context to all that by showing a world ravaged by
food shortages where people are still trying to hold on to a semblance
of normalcy (i.e., going to baseball games). At Comic-Con McConaughey
described it as a world in which "civilization is basically just
sustaining. It's about growing food, having clean water, that's it."
When it becomes clear that, as Michael Caine's character says in the
trailers, "nothing in our solar system can help us," McConaughey’s
Cooper is recruited to go to space on what McConaughey called "the
greatest mission mankind has ever taken."

From both the shots of corn in the trailers and a report from the
small townFort MacLeaod Gazette, we can assume corn is the most
important crop in the film. The small town Florida paper, which
reported on Interstellar when it was shooting there, says the “movie
details the toll climate change has taken on agriculture, with corn
the last crop to be cultivated. The scientists embark on a journey
through a wormhole into other dimensions in search of somewhere other
crops can be grown.”

MAJOR ENTERTAINMENT NEWS OUTLET is set to confirm and call Christopher Nolan's new movie due out on November 7 ''INTERSTELLAR'' as a ''cli fi'' movie...

confirm at

I have "heard" from a direct news source that a MAJORENTERTAINMENT NEWS OUTLET is set to confirm and call Christopher Nolan's new movie due out on November 7 ''INTERSTELLAR'' as acli fi movie, see TIME mag May 19 issue for details on cli fi movies,as they also called ''INTO THE STORM'' a cli fi movie and the AFP wire servicewent big with the cli fi term this summer in Spanish, French andItalian wire stories on the movie.

My source tells me INTERSTELLAR is going to be called ''Hollywood's
first big cli fi movie'' by her media outlet the last week of October with quotes from Paramount Studio and the director.  

Want more details?. Email me at

DAVID MITCHELL on how his new novel ''THE BONE CLOCKS'' is a cli fi novel

“I’m trying to use the word ‘paranormal’ to keep the ‘F’ (fantasy) word out of the novel,” he explains, “in case people read that and think, ‘Oh that’s not my cup of tea.’ But, yeah, in the sixth (and final) part she’s a grandmother in 2040 in the west of Ireland, just as the last drop of oil is running out and climate change has run havoc. It’s veering close to dystopian fiction. It’s sort of a realist novel but it has this paranormal heart, and in the fifth part it sort of blasts out of the rib cage, and it’s all there and then it closes in again.” 

- quote from JAPAN TIMES interview by Andrew Lee

Thursday, August 28, 2014

WHY CLI FI MATTERS: ''What We Write When It Won't Rain''

Literary critic ANNA NORTH writes in the NYT [with some slight annotative rewrites from this blog]:

"We do what we can to make it rain."

So writes Sterry Butcher in her Texas Monthly meditation on West Texas
drought. We do what we can, it seems, and we talk about what we've
done, and how little it yielded. Rain is something humans were
worrying about in Biblical times, and likely long before. But the long
dry spell in the West has re-focused many Americans' attention on
water, and on what happens when there's not enough. And a new
literature dubbed "cli fi" is  be emerging -- one with room for stories that
recall the past, but also for the possibility of trouble on a scale
we've never seen before.

[Paolo Bacigalupi, in fact, has a new novel coming out soon about water waters titled THE WATER KNIFE set in the near future in the Southwest.]

Here's Ms. Butcher on drought superstition:

"A thunderstorm that glowers only a mile or two distant provokes the
crossing of fingers and messages sent heavenward to help steer the
rain this way. It's considered lucky to wash your car in such a
circumstance, or hang out the laundry, to entice -- or dare -- the rain
to arrive. No studies exist to show the effectiveness of such charms,
but they can't hurt."

And on drought conversation:

"At an Alpine Cowboys baseball game this summer, I sat near two
ranchers commiserating about the weather. 'It's so dry I about can't
stand it,' the first fellow said. The other fellow nodded. 'When the
mesquite starts to die, that'll be it,' he said. 'If that happens, I'm
rolling it up and we're done.'"

Take out the reference to studies, and much of this could apply a
100 years ago -- take out the cars and baseball and you could make
it a thousand. And indeed, a lot of what's written on drought today
harkens back to an earlier era. At San Diego Magazine, Clare
Leschin-Hoar remarks on how little we still know:

"While the National Weather Service uses everything from a variety of
atmospheric models to weather balloons and drone planes to gather
information, scientists still can't predict precisely when a region
will get rain, or how much. That means water officials need to
constantly plan for what's ahead."

Bobby Magill of Climate Central writes about a surprising consequence
of the California drought, under the very Biblical-sounding headline
"Epic Drought in West is Literally Moving Mountains."

And at The New Republic, Jeffrey Ball writes that "the scary
statistics of California's drought read like a latter-day version of
the 1930s Dust Bowl crisis." He notes that "whether climate change is
at play is a question on which scientists disagree." But this question
seems to hang over much recent writing on drought. At the very least,
some writers may be starting to look at drought as a sign that we need
to change our relationship to water, and to the earth.

"I think there's a kind of visceral panic that occurs in people when
suddenly water seems to be unavailable," Scott Slovic, a professor of
English and co-editor of the anthology "Literature and the
Environment," told Op-Talk. "We're inspired to try to hoard water, to
fill our bathtubs. Water is one of the essential supplies that we're
supposed to have in our homes should there be any kind of disaster."
When we see droughts like the one in California, he added,  "we begin
to worry on a visceral, profound level that maybe there's something we
didn't quite bargain for."

Writers like Craig Childs, Ellen Meloy and Marc Reisner have tried to
get readers to take water more seriously, he said: "The literature has
attempted to make us revalue what is truly a precious resource." [Paolo Bacigalupi has a new novel coming out soon about water waters titled THE WATER KNIFE set in the near future in the Southwest.]

And while writers have long been interested in the desert -- "some of
the oldest tropes in world literature have to do with the power of dry
places" -- the way they understand drought and dry landscapes may be
changing. In the late 20th and early 21st century, Mr. Slovic argued,
writers have begun to challenge the "idea that the boundaries of the
desert are fixed. I think we increasingly have a sense that aridity

He sees Mr. Childs, for instance, as advancing the "notion that the
American desert is not just in a specific location. Many different,
unexpected regions of America and other parts of the world can easily
become desert, and have perhaps been desert historically" -- a
conception of "the fluid, moveable desert, of uncertain climatic
conditions that could result in water shortages for short periods or
immensely long periods."

Heather Houser, a professor of English and the author of "Ecosickness
in Contemporary U.S. Fiction," also sees a change. She traces it
through the work of the novelist Leslie Marmon Silko, author of
"Ceremony" (1977) and "Almanac of the Dead" (1991). "In 'Ceremony,'"
Ms. Houser told Op-Talk in an email, "drought drives a healing
narrative: The protagonist, like the land, goes from a state of
sickness to one of health." But in "Almanac of the Dead," "drought is
pervasive, and one individual's actions aren't going to reverse it."
Indeed, "the picture Silko paints is apocalyptic; a local drought
heralds global catastrophe."

Recent discussion of[the emerging new genre dubbed cli fi and] climate change, Ms. Houser argued, has led
contemporary writers to depict drought as a sweeping problem that's
beyond any one person's capacity to solve. Whether literature will
motivate readers to solve it, though, is an open question.
"'Consciousness' is not the same as 'action,'" she said. "The gap
between these positions is often huge, even for the most stalwart

Some writers, she added, have examined this gap, and "emotions like
anxiety and wonder that widen or shrink it." Richard Powers's 2006
novel "The Echo Maker," she said, "teaches readers about the
destruction of sandhill crane habitat in Nebraska and so raises
awareness, but, in another plot about a neurological disease, it also
shows that the mind is astonishingly complex. We might feel wonder and
awe at the natural world and want to protect it, but there are
psychological and social obstacles obstructing the path from wonder to

Mr. Slovic sees, if not action, then at least rising concern. "Climate
cycles are not absolutely fixed and predictable," he said, "and that
may be the great lesson of the era that we're living through right
now. Whether we believe in human-caused planet-wide changes or whether
we believe that these are natural cycles, I think all of us in the
early 21st century have this sense of a kind of basic uncertainty
about how conditions are changing."

He's noticed a growing desire to find ways to adapt to these changes:
"The more nimble we can be, the more lightly we can live on the
planet, I think the more able we will be to adjust to various shifts
that we see occurring every day right now and that are likely to
continue to occur in the future, and I see this reflected in the

We don't yet know how to make it rain. But increasingly, we may be
talking about what to do when the rain doesn't come.

[This article was edited and rewritten in parts by a subeditor in Taiwan.]