Past event

English Research Seminar -- Professor Mark Bould Three tendencies in cli-fi/sci-fi cinema

While climate fiction is now a familiar category of prose fiction, the cinema of climate change seems less well-established. Both, however, can be dated back to at least the late 1980s. After outlining some of the tensions in the term ‘climate fiction', I will discuss a range of films to explore where its limits might lie. Then, drawing on Imre Szeman's work on narratives of peak-oil, I will outline three key tendencies in cli-fi – strategic realism, techno-utopianism, apocalyptic environmentalism – and discuss in detail how they manifest in Monsters (Edwards 2010), Elysium (Blomkamp 2013) and Homo sapiens (Geyrhalter 2016). I will close by turning to consider Arrival (Villeneuve 2016) as an example of cli-fi that has no idea it is about climate change.

Mark Bould is Professor of Film and Literature at the University of the West of England, Bristol, and recipient of the Science Fiction Research Association's Lifetime Achievement Award and the International Association of the Fantastic in the Arts' Distinguished Scholarship Award. The founding editor of Science Fiction Film and Television journal and Studies in Global Science Fiction monograph series, his most recent books are M. John Harrison: Critical Essays (2019) and The Anthropocene Unconscious: Climate Catastrophe Culture (2021).