cli-fi n.

a subgenre of science fiction concerned with the effects of climate change

Popularized by journalist Dan Bloom, who independently coined it in 2012 to promote the novel Polar City Red, by Jim Laughter. (Various other dates of Bloom’s coinage have appeared in news articles.)

[cli- (in climate) + sci-fi n.]

SF Encyclopedia

SF Criticism


  • [2007 Globe & Mail (Toronto) 17 Feb. f5/2

    For climate-change science fiction, 2004 was a bumper-crop year: Michael Crichton’s skeptical State of Fear, a novel about a global-warming conspiracy, and Roland Emmerich’s abrupt-climate-change movie The Day After Tomorrow were crowd-pleasers, though scientists criticized the science in each as faulty at best, misleading at worst. Climate fiction isn’t a new phenomenon, says James Gunn, an author and director of the Center for the Study of Science Fiction at the University of Kansas.]

  • 2009 S. Thill in Wired 18 Sept. (online ed.) page image

    Blurring the boundary between sci-fi and documentary, Franny Armstrong’s The Age of Stupid peers back in time from a climate crisis-wracked 2055 to lament our current inaction…. Killer CGI, dystopian cli-fi, heart-wrenching footage.

  • 2012 M. Atwood 23 Apr. (Tweet) page image Margaret Atwood

    Here’s a new term: ‘Cli-Fi’ = SF about climate change. Coined by Dan Bloom.

  • 2013 So Hot Right Now: Has Climate Change Created a New Literary Genre? in Weekend Edition (National Public Radio) 20 Apr. page image

    Over the past decade, more and more writers have begun to set their novels and short stories in worlds, not unlike our own, where the Earth’s systems are noticeably off-kilter. The genre has come to be called climate fiction—‘cli-fi’, for short.

  • 2014 J. Mark Climate Fiction Fantasy in N.Y. Times 10 Dec. a35/1

    In this time of global warming, cli-fi made an early splash with ‘Waterworld’, Kevin Costner’s campy 1995 vision of a future where the polar icecaps have melted and Earth is almost entirely submerged. It took almost a decade for the next major cli-fi blockbuster to arrive.

  • 2017 T. Martin Wild Things in New Statesman 21 July 43/3

    Other imaginary societies are evoked in ‘Later, His Ghost’, a haunting piece of cli-fi about a Britain devastated by high winds.

  • 2019 C. Victor Fortitude: Season 1 in Science Fiction Film & Television (vol. 12, no. 2) 285

    Perhaps the most prescient subtexts of Fortitude are the cli-fi, anti-capitalist undertones expressed through mindless, zombie archetypes and the ever-present potential for impending apocalypse.

  • 2021 Economist 6 Feb. 69/2

    By merging cli-fi and nature writing, the novel powerfully demonstrates the spiritual and emotional costs of environmental destruction.

Research requirements

antedating 2009

Research History
Bill Mullins supplied a 2007 quote from the Globe and Mail for the form "climate fiction", quoting James E. Gunn.

Last modified 2021-09-02 17:19:23
In the compilation of some entries, HDSF has drawn extensively on corresponding entries in OED.