Climate fiction: a new literary genre to describe climate change

The Source, the literary competition that will choose the best Italian climate fiction stories describing the world to come, began on 22nd September and will end on 30th November. The initiative, which takes its cue from the podcast of the same name, is promoted by Gruppo CAP, manager of the integrated water service for the Milan metropolitan area, in collaboration with Libromania, a subsidiary of the publisher DeA Planeta Libri. The challenge: to imagine tomorrow's world in the light of climate change. The winning stories will become an anthology book.

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© Pixabay


Looking for Italy’s Cormac McCarthy. The Source, the literary competition that will choose the best Italian climate fiction short stories, is now underway. The initiative, promoted by Gruppo CAP, manager of the integrated water service for the Milan metropolitan area, in collaboration with Libromania, a subsidiary of the publisher DeA Planeta Libri, is inspired by the podcast of the same name, The Source, released this summer and available free of charge on all the most important platforms, which recounts the effects and consequences of climate change in an Italy that for 15 years has ignored the warnings of scientists, suddenly finding itself the victim of the first water crisis in history.

The competition, which began on 22nd September and ends on 30th November, poses a new challenge to writers and aspiring writers: to write an unpublished story in the literary genre known as climate fiction (Cli-Fi), i.e. the branch of science fiction that deals with climate change.

Indeed, cinema, theatre and literature have always had a prophetic function. The narration of a possible future, the creation of an imaginary world, from time to time apocalyptic, fairy-tale or allegorical, is part of the world’s narrative tradition. Reflection on time and tomorrow has produced great masterpieces, and it was not until the middle of the twentieth century that the term science fiction was coined to define a macro-genre.

Climate fiction, on the other hand, is a much more recent label. Among the illustrious names that have measured up to it are, to name but the most famous, James G. Ballard (The Drowned World), Ian McEwan (Solar), Margaret Atwood, famous for The Handmaid’s Tale, (the Maddaddam Trilogy) and, most famous of all, Cormac McCarthy, author of the post-apocalyptic novel The Road, winner of the Pulitzer Prize in 2007.

Climate change is an issue that is now high on the agendas of governments and major international institutions. Melting ice, rising ocean levels, precipitation and extreme weather phenomena are becoming increasingly widespread, while vast areas of the planet are suffering from unprecedented droughts and heat waves. This summer in Italy, 158 hectares of land literally went up in smoke, an area equal to the cities of Rome, Naples and Milan combined. The floods that devastated central Europe in July claimed more than 180 lives in Germany alone.

© Gruppo CAP

According to scientists, these phenomena are set to intensify: consider that the decade 2010-2019 was the hottest since reliable and regular temperature records have existed. Changes that make hydrogeological instability, crises in agricultural systems, water crises, the spread of epidemics and the extinction of animal and plant species increasingly frequent. The aim of The Source is to make a contribution in terms of raising awareness and to do so through the medium of imagination and storytelling.

Until 30th November, it will be possible to send a climate fiction story of between 20 and 30 thousand characters, uploading it on the official website thesource.gruppocap.it. The best entries, selected by a jury, will be collected in a book-anthology edited in collaboration with Libromania, which will be published in spring 2022.

The Source is just the latest of many initiatives to raise awareness of environmental issues devised by Gruppo CAP. Last year the public company promoted the operation Let’s Green!, a competition created with the aim of rewarding the good sustainability practices of citizens and associations by electing the greenest municipalities in the Metropolitan City of Milan.

For more information, to listen to the episodes of The Source, and to consult the competition rules: https://thesource.gruppocap.it

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