&Now 2015: Blast Radius has ended
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Thursday, March 26 • 4:00pm - 5:15pm
Apocalypse Now, or Nearly: Folding Future & Present Together, In Imagining the Climate Crisis

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Ben Lerner, at the latest Brooklyn Festival, claimed onstage that his new novel 10:04 was ‘‘science fiction.’’ The book’s settings are entirely realistic, however, and its two major events are two recent hurricanes, first Irene and then Sandy. Those were, of course, climate events—their damage exacerbated by humanity’s abuse of the environment.   

So too, the novels and stories known loosely as ‘‘cli-fi,’’ addressing the current climate crisis, challenge and destabilize conventional notions of ‘‘sci-fi.’’ On the one hand, such work imagines a changed world. On the other, cli-fi also eschews genre elements, such as the apparatus of time- or space-travel. Instead, such novels and stories tends to exist in an alternative ‘‘now,’’ different in some essential way from our own, but otherwise using machinery and social structures we recognize. That’s the case even in so accessible and celebrated a text as Jennifer Egan’s A Visit From the Goon Squad. In that novel, the final chapters are set in an America at once our own and yet significantly otherwise. A similar alternative reality can be seen in lesser-known and more challenging fictions, by writers as diverse as George Saunders and Margaret Atwood. 

Our roundtable will address such literary work as both writers and readers. It will consider outstanding examples, such as those named already, and also grapple with difficulties of composition. In complicating our sense of the moment, cli-fi also transgresses boundaries between the artistic modes, and indeed all the arts.

avatar for John Domini

John Domini

reviewer, essayist, etc., Bookforum, Believer, Ploughshares, ABR, etc.
John Domini is the author of three books of stories, the latest MOVIEOLA!, and three novels. His fourth is scheduled for 2019, on Dzanc. Other titles include a selection of criticism, and he reviews regularly for Washington Post and elsewhere. He has won awards in both non-fiction... Read More →


Matt Bell

Matt Bell is the author of the novel In The House Upon The Dirt Between The Lake And The Woods, a finalist for the Young Lions Fiction Award and the winner of the Paula Anderson Book Award. He is also the author of two previous books, How They Were Found and Cataclysm Baby, and his... Read More →
avatar for Christina Milletti

Christina Milletti

Christina Milletti’s novel Choke Box: a Fem-Noir won the Juniper Prize for Fiction and was published by University of Massachusetts Press in March 2019. Her first book, The Religious & Other Fiction (a collection of stories) was published by Carnegie Mellon University Press, and... Read More →

Thursday March 26, 2015 4:00pm - 5:15pm PDT
Coffee House Theater

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