Cli-fi. Now there is a term I hadn't encountered before. It turns out Mordecai Crow is at the relative cutting edge of a new sub-genre of science fiction, cli-fi or climate fiction. I first encountered the term in a really nice article on Secrets of Jarrow in Prairie Books NOW by David Fuller, which I will link to below.
Originally coined in the early 2010's, it has been retroactively applied to works such as Margaret Atwood's Oryx and Crake (2003) of her MaddAdam trilogy (let's face it, we've known about this for a while, folks!) Most simply put, it is fiction literature that features a changed or changing climate. I get a little bit antsy having my book slotted into that genre, as there is an implied polemic quality that I never intended for my book. But as you can read here, story-telling can be a powerful tool for connecting people with possible futures and moving them from apathy to action. So I'm good with that.
My motivation for placing Mordecai Crow in a future world ravaged by climate change began, in all honesty, as a way for me to place him into a decaying world, a sort of early medieval-like setting, a period that I am fascinated by and, more importantly, would allow me to to draw things I love. Stuff like old stone, crumbling ruins, decay, rooms lit by torch and candle light. It of course also gave me a chance to explore themes around climate change as Crow unearths bits and pieces about the collapse of the world, and I am not averse to throwing in a bit of climate change soap-boxing, if for no other reason than to make my activist big brother a bit happier. But at the end of the day, like the technology melt-down and GMO-induced crop crisis that are also parts of Mordecai's future world, they are mostly devices to propel the plot forward and create an interesting and challenging world that our hero needs to negotiate.
|Crow and Podd ruminate about a long lost world in Book 2, due out next spring. I would miss my pond of peepers outside!|
I can't pretend that Mordecai's world is in anyway an accurate portrayal of a world ravaged by climate change. Things like summer snow storms and flooded cities are mostly just new ways of changing things up in the narrative, but I have loved the process of imagining what that world may look like. Mordecai's world is probably a gentler version of the real potential for disaster (I like drawing trees!) but with so many balls in the air - things like a possible slowing or stopping of the Gulf Stream that could plunge Europe into another ice age even while the rest of the world heats up, or a technological meltdown coupled with other disasters that could precipitously de-populate the world en masse (having the happy side effect of actually allowing us to reach our emissions targets!) - I don't feel the need to be accurate.
However, as we go through this summer of almost continuous bad news on the climate front, amplified no doubt by media's need to scare us shit silly but never-the-less of epic proportions, I am happy to think that this book might have the potential to shift the needle ever so slightly in our response to this global crisis. And as the bad and sometimes whacky news pours in (like a massive mid-summer hail storm in Germany the other day that required snow removal equipment to be brought out to clear the streets) I'm thinking that truth surely is stranger than fiction, and maybe a July snowstorm wasn't so far-fetched after all.