On The Beach: A Conversation With Dan Bloom

Recently I caught up with Dan Bloom on Climate Fiction and books he thought paved the way for the genre. Dan is a fan of On The Beach by Nevil Shute. I started by asking him why he was drawn to Shute in particular?

Dan: Well, he wrote that powerful 1957 novel ON THE BEACH which became a movie two years later. That novel and movie did much to change human thinking about nuclear war and nuclear winter. So I think we need a contemporary  ON THE BEACH about climate change.

Do you think On the Beach is still relevant today?

Only as a role model of how social literature can wake people up. I feel we we need modern authors writing about Climate Fiction.

Who are the authors currently engaging in Cli Fi that we need to look out for?

Emmi Itaranta is tops. She is from Finland and translated to about 14 languages. Her novel is called MEMORY OF WATER. She is a genius.

Also, Paolo Bacigalupi in the USA. His new novel titled THE WATER KNIFE due out in 2015 is about water wars in USA .Southwest states fighting over water in future dystopia is Cli Fi for sure

At NITH we are currently working on some short story collaborations. What sort of themes and characters do you think would fit well into Cli Fi short stories?

Hmmmmmm…Water wars in future…Climate refugees worldwide fleeing in boats and planes to find safe refuge…

What about positive examples of potential CliFi stories. What’s relatable? Human emotions, interactions. What is it that we feel when we realise that our environment in changing?

Good question!  For positive hopeful emotions for cli fi novels, a la Shute, we need to focus on working together, staying together, banding together to fight the monster of Climate Change. Even if we cannot beat it, we can learn to adapt, survive, and create some kind of adaptive future for our descendants 30 generations down the road.

It might involve opening up some space in our spiritual lives, our mental lives, our psychological lives so that even if things do get bad, we can draw on our inner strength a to band together, find food and shelter, reproduce and nurture new generations, in spite of it all. We may perish, but at least we gave it our best shot.

There’s so much out there, it’s just re-aligning people’s ideas outside of the ‘fact’ v fiction narrative.A lot of people think, when it comes to climate change, only ‘facts’ will do. Climate Fiction might sound off-putting, particularly to non-readers, in that it’s not the ‘truth’. But myths form the narratives that tell us who we are. Thoughts?

I like the way you say it, “re-aligning people’s ideas outside of the ‘fact’ v fiction narrative, ” a friend in UK told me he sees Cli Fi as a ”Reframing”

So re-framing, re-aligning, yes. Facts don’t always work .Everyone argues right wing / left wing politics. I want to see CLI FI go for the emotions,  just like Nevil did with ON THE BEACH