Posted by: Lisa Hill | March 4, 2015

Opening Lines: Anchor Point (2015), by Alice Robinson

AnchorPoint_Cover hi res (2)Kath stayed in the studio through dinner.  Laura forked up meat and potatoes for the rest of them, a bag of frozen peas pressed to her eye.  When Kath eventually slunk in, tiptoeing, red-eyed, smelling of smoke, Laura thought how loud a person sounds when they are trying to be quiet.  She shared a glance with her father across the couch.

‘Mutti?’ little Vik called from the bedroom where she was meant to be asleep.

Laura grit her teeth against the yearning in her sister’s voice, a pinch deep in her chest. But she was beyond expecting Kath to respond. She could hear her mother filling up the kettle, opening the fridge and riffling through.  Vik started to cry.  She was only just five.

Anchor Point, by Alice Robinson, Affirm Press, 2015, p3

It’s an arresting beginning, eh?  And it gets better.  Anchor Point is an example of ‘cli-fi’, fiction which addresses the issue of climate change.

More later, when I’ve finished reading.

Update: see my review here.

You can get a copy from Fishpond: Anchor Point or direct from Affirm Press.


  1. cli-fi is a new expression for me. do you think its a marketing gimmick?


    • I hadn’t heard of it either, but as I understand it, it’s meant to denote that it’s futuristic in that it shows the effects of climate change, but it’s not sci-fi or fantasy. There isn’t any techno-geekery, and it’s not dystopian either. In this case (I finished the book last night, review to come) the novel shows the effects on a farm and a city in the very near future.
      I don’t think it’s a gimmick. It’s not so long ago that I heard one of Australia’s pre-eminent writers, Kate Grenville, at the Melbourne Festival of Ideas, talking about how Australian novelists had been slow to write about the important issues of our time and that climate change was one that could be addressed in fiction. At that time there was an ignoble public debate about whether climate change was real or not, and the deniers were getting a lot more space in the debating sphere than they deserved. Grenville said that when attitudes are formed it’s very hard to change them with facts, but that powerfully written fiction could show the risks and how Australia would be one of the countries most affected by climate change.
      As we see already, with more and more extreme weather events, and with prolonged dry spells too long, and too frequent, and too ‘normal’ to be called drought any more. All as predicted.


    • ”Booktalk” , re what is cli fi?: ……..It is NOT a marketing gimmick. See the academic website here at for some background on the cli fi genre term, and you will understand more about it. It’s a very interesting development and i coined it. ask me why? I am not a novelist or a marketing person or a publisher or an editor. I am just a reader.


  2. […] you could tell from the Opening Lines of Anchor Point that I posted a day or two ago,  I was thoroughly impressed by this debut novel.  It’s an […]


  3. ”Booktalk” and ”Lisa Hill”, above, re what is cli fi?: ……..It is NOT a marketing gimmick. See the academic website here at for some background on the cli fi genre term, and you will understand more about it. And to hear my POV about the differences between cli fi and sci fi, read my blog post here:

    TEXT by Dan Bloom: More and more Australian novelists are embracing the cli-fi genre, either directly as Alice Robinson has in her powerful new cli-fi debut novel titled ANCHOR POINT, or indirectly in James Bradley’s equally powerful cli fi novel titled CLADE.

    Reviews for both books are appearing worldwide now on websites and blogs, and all you gotta do is Google the titles or check the summaries at Amazon.

    With more and more academics in Australia embracing the cli fi meme, and the Marquarie Dictionary naming cli fi one of the key new terms of 2014, cli fi has found a home in Australia, too, with Robinon and Bradley leading the way this year. For sure, there is more to come Down Under, er, Up Above! Look at the world map and globe in a different way once in a while and see reality for what it is. It is not what we always think it is.

    As Borges said, this ALL might just be ONE BIG DREAM that some diety from Asteroid Az101556 is dreaming, and when SHE wakes up, we will all be gone. Like that! In an instant! PUT THAT IN YOUR PIPE AND SMOKE IT.

    But for now, know that cli fi is the next cab off the rank, as book critic Jason Steger put it in the Sydney Morning Herald recently.

    NOTE: While some book blog reviewers and newspaper critics have put James Bradley’s novel CLADE in the sci fi camp, if you look at the book and read for what it is, IT IS NOT sci fi at all.

    As one reviewer in the so-called NORTHERN part of the globe wrote in his very good review of the novel: “Clade is science fiction, but it doesn’t feature any spaceships, aliens, or malevolent robots. Clade’s technology is believable advances of gadgets we’re already used to.”

    So then, if there are no ”spaceships, aliens, or malevolent robots” and the technology in the novel is in fact just ”very believable advances of gadgets we’re already used to,” then why label his novel as sci fi? It is not sci fi at all.

    Just because a novel or movie takes place in the future does not mean it is sci fi. To be sci fi, a novel must have spaceships, aliens, malevolent robots, clocks that strike 13 and wormholes to Earth-like planets. Stuff like that. ”Clade” has none of that. ”Clade” is about humankind’s future in relationship to climate change and global warming. It is a very well written and crafted cli fi novel. Period.

    It’s true, ”sci-fi fans get excited about speculative future technologies and out-there social effects,” and that’s cool. There’s a place for sci fi in our lives, for sure. But James Bradley new cli fi novel is not a sci fi novel. It’s about people who dwell in the VERY near future, and it’s not about spaceships, aliens, or malevolent robots at all. Read it and shelve in your ”cli fi” rack.

    Some reviewers have taken to calling CLADE as sci fi because they cannot think of another term for it. But ther IS a better literary term for it: cli-fi. A cousin of sci fi but in a different leagure entirely.

    As for Alice Robinson’s ANCHOR POINT, notice nobody is calling it a sci fi novel, even though it also takes place in the future. Even the author herself refers to it as a cli fi novel. James Bradley might soon refer to his novel as a cli fi novel, too, and drop the sci fi tag. But it’s up to him, of course.
    And in the end, what matters in literature is the STORY, the content of the book, and not the label critics give it. Cli fi, sci fi, schmi-fi — what matters is the storytelling chops and both Robinson and Bradley have talent up the kazoo when it comes to telling powerful, rivetting stories.

    That’s what matters


    • Wow, Daniel, I’m thinking you should start a blog about this topic!


  4. Arresting? Sorry, but that’s one of the most boring openings I’ve ever read. It reads exactly like a generic family novel.


    • Hello, and welcome.
      I’m sorry this opening has given you the wrong impression. Anchor Point, as you can see from my review, isn’t a generic family novel, there’s nothing generic about the book at all.
      But, to each his own, eh?


      • Regardless of your review, which most potential readers will probably never see, the opening lines are important for a first impression. But I made two points: the opening line not only gives no hint that this might be an SF novel, it’s excruciatingly blah and weak. In other words, there’s nothing there to serve as a hook.


        • Oh look, I really don’t want to engage in insulting this author’s work. Self-evidently, I liked it and found it engaging. You don’t. Ok. Enough said, I think.


  5. […] you will know if you saw the Opening Lines to Alice Robinson’s debut novel Anchor Point, and my enthusiastic review, I am delighted to […]


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