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What is CliFi? An Earth Day Primer

So I’m flipping through my February 2014 issue of VOYA Magazine and I see a head-shot of author Mindy McGinnis – what is she doing there I wonder? Her book, Not a Drop to Drink (I’m a fan), is mentioned as being an example of CliFi. Wait – what is this CliFi thing?

You know how we’re always making those displays of climate change induced dystopian fiction for Earth Day? Yeah that, it turns out, is CliFi. Climate Fiction.

According to the VOYA article written by Rebecca Hill, the term CliFi was popularized by Dan Bloom. CliFi is fiction that deals with climate change.

I had never heard this term, but it is perfect.

Last year, Christie put together THIS list of climate change dystopias. Turns out, they are CliFi.

And I put together THIS collection of Earth Day activities, inspired in part by 47 Things You Can Do for the Environment published by Zest Books. Earth Day is coming, a great time to introduce your patrons to CliFi.

And here are 5 2014 CliFi books out now or later this year:

Endangerd and Threatened by Eliot Schrefer

Publisher’s Description: “As he did in his acclaimed novel Endangered, a finalist for the National Book Award, Eliot Schrefer takes us somewhere fiction rarely goes, introducing us to characters we rarely get to meet. The unforgettable result is the story of a boy fleeing his present, a man fleeing his past, and a trio of chimpanzees who are struggling not to flee at all.” See entire description at Goodreads. Published February 25, 2014 by Scholastic Press. ISBN: 9780545551434.

I have read Endangered and it was really very good. 

Sunrise, the final book in the Ashfall series by Mike Mullin

Publisher’s Description: “This epic finale has the heart of Ashfall, the action of Ashen Winter, and a depth all its own, examining questions of responsibility and bravery, civilization and society, illuminated by the story of an unshakable love that transcends a post-apocalyptic world and even life itself.” See entire description at Goodreads. Coming April 15, 2014 from Tanglewood Press. ISBN: 9781939100016.

 This is a really good series and I am looking forward to reading the conclusion.

Pills and Starships by Lydia Millet

Publisher’s Description: “In this richly imagined dystopic future brought by global warming, seventeen-year-old Nat and her hacker brother Sam have come by ship to the Big Island of Hawaii for their parents’ Final Week. The few Americans who still live well also live long—so long that older adults bow out not by natural means but by buying death contracts from the corporates who now run the disintegrating society by keeping the people happy through a constant diet of “pharma.” See entire description at Goodreads Coming June 2014 from Black Sheep. ISBN: 9781617752766.

Survival ColonyNine by Joshua David Bellin

Publisher’s Description: “In a future world of dust and ruin, fourteen-year-old Querry Genn struggles to recover the lost memory that might save the human race.

Querry is a member of Survival Colony Nine, one of the small, roving groups of people who outlived the wars and environmental catastrophes that destroyed the old world. The commander of Survival Colony Nine is his father, Laman Genn, who runs the camp with an iron will. He has to–because heat, dust, and starvation aren’t the only threats in this ruined world.” See the entire description at Goodreads. Coming in September 2014 from Margaret K. McElderry Books. ISBN: 9781481403542.

Not a Drop to Drink and In a Handful of Dust by Mindy McGinnis
In a world where water is scarce, what would you do to protect what little water you have?

Publisher’s Description: “In this companion to Not a Drop to Drink, Mindy McGinnis thrillingly combines the heart-swelling hope of a journey, the challenges of establishing your own place in the world, and the gripping physical danger of nature in a futuristic frontier.” See entire description at Goodreads. Coming in September from Katherine Tegen Books. ISBN: 9780062198532.

Be sure to check out the VOYA Magazine article for further discussion of this emerging genre, some additional titles, and some nonfiction titles that may also be of interest. Hill, Rebecca. “Weathering the Change: CliFi Settles in for the Duration”. VOYA Magazine, February 2014, pages 44 and 45.

Dan Bloom, who coined the term CliFi, can be found on Twitter @polarcityman. There is also a CliFi hashtag (#CliFi). You can also follow @CliFiBooks, though these are not specifically YA books or visit their webpage at www.clifibooks.com. Cli-Fi Books explores climate change themes found in novels, prose, short stories, and other fiction. Earth Day is April 22, 2014.
Please share your favorite CliFi books with us in the comments.

Book Review: Conjured by Sarah Beth Durst

“Don’t contact anyone from your past.  Don’t tell anyone about your past.  Forget the rules . . . and die.”

Eve remembers nothing of her past.  She is in witness protection.  They need her to remember and testify; she has escaped a serial killer that uses magic to kill his prey.  They say she knows something, but she isn’t sure what.  What if she doesn’t want to remember?  What if she knows more than she would like?

Sometimes she dreams.  There is a carnival tent.  Buttons being sewn onto her skin.  And she can do things, but she tries to keep this hidden.  What would people think if they found out what she could do?

While she is remembering, or at least trying to, Eve shelves books in the local library.  There she meets some others that see hints of who she is and what she can do.  And just like those that guard her in the witness protection program, their motives are sometimes questionable.  Do they want to help her – or exploit her: “This shouldn’t be a tough call. They plan to kill you, Eve. We don’t. Align yourself with us.” (p 157).

Conjured is a super freaky, updated take on Pinocchio.  It is a fascinating cross between haunting paranormal and serial killer thriller. If you, like me, like those kind of books, you will be gloriously satisfied with Conjured.  If you don’t, well, we’ll agree to disagree.  The magic is fascinating, and the storytelling has the slowly picking off a scab to reveal the bloody underneath quality to it.  The truth of who Eve is, where she came from, what she has seen and what she knows, is horrifically enthralling and a clever twist.  The ending has a breathless climax full of magic and confrontation.  And at the heart of it all is one of the most basic questions of the teenage years : who am I really?

“Lie. Lie to everyone until you know the truth.” 

4 out of 5 stars. Conjured by Sarah Beth Durst was published by Walker Books, an imprint of Bloomsbury, in September of 2013.  ISBN: 9780802734587.  Pair this with The Wonder Show by Hannah Barnaby and books written by Neil Gaiman.

Meet the New Imprint: Month9Books

What do superheroes, paranormal, alternate history, dystopian and horror all have in common? They all fall under the umbrella of speculative fiction. Speculative fiction is hot in the publishing world.  Readers of all ages like to be whisked away into worlds of fantasy and what if . . . ? In fact, paranormal romance is so popular that when you go to the book store there is a separate section for it in the teen section.  Today, we introduce you to a new publishing imprint that specializes in publishing speculative fiction for tweens and teens.
ABOUT MONTH9BOOKS
 

Month 9 Books, is a publisher of speculative fiction for teens and tweens . . . where nothing is as it seems. Month9Books, located in the Triangle area of North Carolina, will donate proceeds from the sale of the first 5,000 copies of each of its annual anthologies to a deserving charity. Individually, authors may donate his or her advances and royalties to a charitable organization. TWO AND TWENTY DARK TALES: DARK RETELLINGS OF MOTHER GOOSE RHYMES was Month9Books’s first charity anthology release in October 2012. Month9Books will also release 12-16 non-charitable titles annually. With six titles coming out in spring 2013, and more following in the fall, readers can look forward to some of the best middle grade and young adult novels in speculative fiction.
 
Month9Books is distributed by Small Press United, a division of IPG. You may visit www.month9books.com for more information, but here is just a taste of what they have in store for readers this spring . . .

A SHIMMER OF ANGELS by Lisa M. Basso-Release Day January 29, 2013
Psychiatry, fantasy and real life come together in A Shimmer of Angels, as a young girl struggles with identity, secrets, and confronting her greatest fears. A Shimmer of Angels is for anyone who has ever felt like an outsider, or perhaps has felt like giving up entirely. It touches on themes of suicide, ostracism and emotional pain. The author, personally exposed to suicide through the death of a beloved family member, will donate a percentage of sales of this novel to a suicide prevention and outreach program in San Francisco, California.

 

Sixteen-year-old Rayna sees angels, and has the medication and weekly therapy sessions to prove it. Now, in remission, Rayna starts fresh at a new school, lands a new job, and desperately tries for normalcy. She ignores signs that she may be slipping into the world she has tried so hard to climb out of. But these days, it’s more than just hallucinations that keep Rayna up at night. Students are dying, and she may be the only one who can stop it. Can she keep her job, her sanity, and her friends from dying at the hands of angels she can’t admit to seeing?
GABRIEL STONE AND THE DIVINITY OF VALTA by Shannon Duffy-Release Day February 12, 2013
Gabriel Stone and the Divinity of Valta is a magical, fast-paced story that takes readers on a journey they won’t soon forget. It has enough mystery, intrigue and wonder to keep readers up, lamp lit, and reading into the night.
Gabriel Stone is a twelve-year-old boy still reeling from the unsolved disappearance of his mother. With a dad who’s hard to relate to, and mounting pressures at school, Gabriel lets off steam by hiking in the place where his mother was last seen. There, Gabe and friends find a crystal that proves not only beautiful, but magical beyond their wildest dreams. Only, magic and beauty come with a price: in order to return home, they must save the dying world of Valta.
 
GABRIEL STONE AND THE DIVINITY OF VALTA is perfect for the classroom. Reading and Teacher Guides are available. Contact Caroline Patty at: educationm9b@gmail.com to request guides.
SIDEKICK: The Misadventures of the New Scarlet Knight by Pab Sungenis-Release Day March 12, 2013
Bobby Baines is in high school, which is bad enough. When his hero, Scarlet Knight, dies, Bobby is forced to take up his mantel. Only Scarlet Knight never had to deal with eeking out a passing grade in math, keeping his fellow sidekicks in check, or stopping a giant squid from bearing down on his school and crushing everyone inside. After all, Bobby Baines is no super hero, he’s a Sidekick!


PRETTY DARK NOTHING by Heather L. Reid-Release Day April 23, 2013

It’s been twenty three days since Quinn has slept for more than minutes at a time. Demons have invaded her dreams, stalking her, and whispering of her death. The lack of sleep and crippling fear are ruining her life. Energy drinks and caffeine pills don’t make a dent. When Quinn dozes off in the school hallway, Aaron, an amnesiac with a psychic ability, accidentally enters her nightmare. The demons are determined to keep them apart, and Aaron from discovering the secret locked away in his memory. Together, they could banish the darkness back to the underworld for good. That is, unless the demons kill them first. 

  
PRAEFATIO by Georgia McBride-Release Day May 21, 2013

Seventeen-year-old Grace Ann Miller is no ordinary runaway. After missing for weeks, Grace is found on the estate of international rock star Gavin Vault, half-dressed and yelling for help. Over the course of twenty-four hours Grace holds an entire police force captive with incredulous tales of angels, demons, and war; intent on saving Gavin from lockup, and her family from worry over her safety. But instead, authorities believe that Grace is ill, and suffering from Stockholm Syndrome, the victim of assault and a severely fractured mind. Undeterred, Grace reveals the secret existence of dark angels on earth, an ancient prophecy and a wretched curse steeped in Biblical myth. Grace’s claims set into motion an ages-old war, resulting in blood, death and the loss of everything that matters. But are these the delusions of an immensely sick girl, or could Grace’s story actually be true? Praefatiois Grace’s account of weeks on the run, falling in love and losing everything but her faith. Who do you believe?


MY SISTER’S REAPER by Dorothy Dreyer-Release Day May 29, 2013

There’s bragging, there’s trying to impress a boy, and then there’s Sixteen-year-old Zadie. Zadie’s first mistake was telling the boy she’s crushing on that she could bring her dead sister back to life. Her second mistake? Actually doing it! When Zadie accidentally messes with the Reaper’s Rite that should have claimed her sister Mara, things go horribly wrong (you think?). Mara isn’t the same anymore—Zadie isn’t even sure she’s completely human, and to top it off, a Reaper is determined to collect Mara’s soul no matter what. Now Zadie must figure out how to defeat her sister’s Reaper, intent on claiming both girls, or let Mara die … this time for good.

We have information for booksellers, librarians and educators, as well as book reviewers and bloggers throughout the website and on our blog, http://month9booksblog.com/. Bloggers, specifically, can find out more information at Month9Books’s Blogger Central located at http://month9booksblog.com/blogger-central/. For those who just can’t wait until release day, visit our Preview Hub at http://month9booksblog.com/preview-hub/ for just a taste of what we have in store for you.

What do I call that? Genre 101 with Georgia McBride

I love speculative fiction so much that when I started Month9Books, I added the commonly misunderstood term to our tagline: “speculative fiction for teens and tweens where nothing is as it seems.” Those of you who are genre fiction fans, and in particular speculative fiction fans, may already know what it means. But for those of you who hear only the “wah wah wah” of Charlie Brown’s teacher when I use it, this one’s for you.

Speculative fiction is an umbrella term used to encompass a variety of genres and sub-genres. The easiest way to understand what it means is to break down the word speculative. It has “speculate” in it. According to Barron’s Reference Guides Pocket Dictionary and Thesaurus, to speculate means to “form an opinion without any definite evidence.” As a transitive verb, Merriam Webster says in essence, to speculate is to theorize or wonder. As in, I wonder what would happen if, or I think if  X happened, we would all do Y.

I like to say that speculative fiction encompasses all of the “what if” genres. Like, what if your boyfriend were a vampire? Or, what if you had to fight to the death on national TV so that your family and everyone in your district would survive? What if you found out you were a wizard endowed with the power to defeat the greatest evil ever known? The previous “what if” scenarios are taken from Twilight, The Hunger Games and Harry Potter, classified as paranormal romance, dystopian fiction, and fantasy respectively, and all under the speculative fiction umbrella. See how easy that was?

Also included under the speculative fiction umbrella are science fiction, horror, high fantasy, urban fantasy, utopian/totalitarian, steampunk, and supernatural. I may be missing a few sub-genres here, but these are the most commonly referenced ones.

 The boundaries between these genres aren’t entirely set in stone, and many novels can be fairly classified under two or more of them. That said, below are my personal definitions for various genres of speculative fiction, as well as some examples of recent books, TV shows or films that fall into them.

Science Fiction: One of my favorite genres has been making a comeback in young adult literature. Though we tend to enjoy watching our science fiction (SciFi), including shows and films like Star Wars, Star Trek, A.I., War of the Worlds, and even Transformers,  those of us in children’s book publishing have also enjoyed titles like Across the Universe, Mila 2.0, Beta, Ender’s Game, and classics like Fahrenheit 451. Fans of science fiction might also like films like Minority Report; I, Robot; 12 Monkeys; Terminator; etc.

Star Wars helped make science fiction popular. But today purists may ask whether certain works are really science fiction or are something else. The answer, IMHO, lies within the name of the genre itself. I like to say that science fiction is a story that presents circumstances and outcomes that would not be possible outside of the realms of science and/or technology, and often a science or technology not yet created. In other words, a world where robots replace service personnel, or a where inter-galaxy travel is possible, or where clones are standard fare, would not be possible were it not for imagined future advancements in science and technology.
 
 
Fantasy: Another favorite of mine, this genre includes stories that are made up of fantastical occurrences (superhuman powers, magical creatures, etc.), and characters, beings, and settings that seem to come from the imagination and folklore, rather than from scientific fact or speculation. Generally, comic books fit into this category. Fantasy normally unfolds due to magic or some other supernatural force, and may be set in either the real world or in an imagined one. Most fantasy involves a quest or adventure. Some of my favorites include The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe and The Emissary, which releases in December, 2013. On TV, look for shows like Once Upon a Time, and check out films like Snow White and the Huntsman, Avatar, and The Avengers.
 
 

Paranormal: This includes stories where supernatural or otherworldly elements influence the outcomes and occurrences in a story, whether those elements be a force, a being (person), or an idea. The genre is often associated with otherworldly beings, such as vampires, angels, ghosts, zombies, werewolves, etc. Some of my favorites include Shiver, Anna Dressed in Blood, Rot and Ruin, and A Shimmer of Angels, which releases January 29, 2013. On TV, look for The Vampire Diaries, The Walking Dead, Teen Wolf, Arrow, 666 Park Avenue, and Grimm, Heroes (no longer on the air). Check out films like Underworld, Wrath of the Titans, Hellboy, and The Mummy.

 
 
Dystopian: Some of you were first introduced to this type of book via The Hunger Games. These stories show the evolution of characters as they navigate a society in which conditions are less than ideal, or even the complete opposite of a utopian (or ideal) world. Other examples include Breathe, Divergent, and one of my favorites: Lord of the Flies. On TV, shows like The Walking Dead, Revolution and Falling Skies represent the dystopian genre.
 
 
High Fantasy: This genre, like other fantasy, usually includes magical or imaginary events and ideas, but it is also normally set in a fantastical or alternate world other than what we understand to be the “real” world, whose existence may or may not be acknowledged. Some of my faves are The Girls of Fire and Thorns and Graceling. In both book and film formats, The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit are also standouts.

Steampunk movies like the (IMHO) ill-conceived Wild, Wild West (starring Will Smith), or one of my favorites, The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, have never really caught on. I fear the same is true for books set in a time when steam powered the world, although titles such as Leviathan, Boneshaker, and Clockwork Angel lead the pack in young adult and are wonderful examples of how to use steampunk elements to drive a story.

Next time we will devote an entire post to one of my favorite genres, horror!

Georgia McBride
Georgia loves a good story. Whether it’s writing her own, or publishing someone else’s, story is at the heart of everything Georgia does. Founder of YALITCHAT.ORG and the weekly #yalitchat on Twitter, Georgia spends most of her days writing, editing, or talking about books. That is, of course, when she is not reading submissions for Month9Books or Swoon Romance.
With a particular interest in and passion for genre fiction, Georgia seeks to fill the gap left by major publishers who may have had their fill of paranormal, horror, and fantasy novels. And it’s a good thing, because Georgia has never met a vampire, angel, or werewolf she didn’t like.
In Month9Books, Georgia seeks to create a niche imprint that publishes deeply emotive works for teens and tweens set in worlds not too unlike our own.
Georgia is seeking middle grade stories with heart and engaging characters who experience life a bit differently. She especially enjoys mysteries, fantasy, and superhero and antihero stories. For young adult, Georgia seeks works that make readers think, and aren’t afraid to be smart, different, or off the beaten path. She is especially interested in genre mash-ups, and welcomes character-driven, coming of age stories with a romantic element. Fangs and zombies welcome.