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The sea with its moods, vibrancy and colours has been a source of fascination for countless poets, writers, photographers and artists.

Break, Break, Break, Alfred Tennyson’s elegy, written for his friend Arthur Hallum in 1835 and immortalised over centuries, uses the violence of waves to express the grief and the sense of helplessness caused by loss. Jules Verne’s Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea (1870) brought the ocean to our doorstep and subsequently on to the silver screen. 

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The Slave Ship by Turner

Around the same time, in 1867, Matthew Arnold , a British poet, published Dover Beach, which again plumbs into the darkness and the depth of the sea, some critics say to express “ a stand against a world of broken faith”. A little earlier than Mathew Arnold artist William Turner also expressed his fascination for the sea with his paintings The Slave Ship and Dawn after the Wreck (1840).

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A new genre has started to nudge for space in the world of literature — cli-fi.

Cli- fi are stories around climate changes and global warming wrought by mankind. The term even has a birthdate to it. It was used for the first time on the American National Public Radio during a talk show on April 20th, 2013.

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The French edition of The Purchase of North Pole or Topsy Tury

Despite being a new genre, two novels by nineteenth century writer Jules Verne have been classified as Cli-fi; Paris in the Twentieth Century written in 1883 and set in 1960s and The Purchase of North Pole published in 1889. Both the novels deal with climate change due to man’s intervention. A few dystopic novels by twentieth century British writer JG Ballard (well- known also for his book, Empire of the Sun, adapted by Speiberg for a film of the same name) were also dubbed as cli- fi fiction. The genre is being enlarged by inclusion of books by current day writers such as Michael Chrichton and Margaret Atwood.

By Desmond Kon Zhicheng-Mingdé 

TzangLet’s get down to brass tacks. Why do you write?

What a beautiful question to start. I write to put things on paper so it doesn’t just get trapped in my mind. I write to understand myself, to help me make sense of my hopes, my fears and my dreams for the world.

Tell us about your most recent film or writing project. What were you trying to say or achieve with it?

That would be the Screenplay for Faeryville, an independent film which I also directed and produced. It’s common knowledge now that I took 8 years to complete the film, but a lot of people didn’t know that I took 14 rewrites for the Faeryville Screenplay.

I was looking at the world and wondering what had happened to us. Post 9-11, post-columbine, with bombings and shootings, extremism, charismatic influencers and self-styled martyrdom, idealism and ideology have suddenly become dangerous things. I realize how in this day and age, nothing seems to be right or wrong anymore, just how you choose to intellectualise it.

I wondered what it’s like growing up as a teenager, where it is no longer safe to fight for what you believe in, or take a stand on anything.

These are questions. Not answers.

I wrote and rewrote the Screenplay of Faeryville, draft after draft, to find answers for myself.