Green Planets: Ecology and Science Fiction, Gerry Canavan, Kim Stanley Robinson
Contemporary visions of the future have been shaped by hopes and fears about the effects of human technology and global capitalism on the natural world. In an era of climate change, mass extinction, and oil shortage, such visions have become increasingly catastrophic, even apocalyptic. Exploring the close relationship between science fiction, ecology, and environmentalism, the essays in Green Planets consider how science fiction writers have been working through this crisis. Beginning with H. G. Wells and passing through major twentieth-century writers like Ursula K. Le Guin, Stanislaw Lem, and Thomas Disch to contemporary authors like Margaret Atwood, China Mieville, and Paolo Bacigalupi as well as recent blockbuster films like Avatar and District 9, the essays in Green Planets consider the important place for science fiction in a culture that now seems to have a very uncertain future.
Among other things, Green Planets considers some of the ways in which SF narratives can variously reflect, resist, and imaginatively transform real-world situations through the estranged perspectives that are a particular strength of this future-oriented genre. Equally usefully, many of these essays examine how real-world socio-politics have drawn upon science fiction to support a wide variety of different responses to environmental questions, from the disaster scenario that opens Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring (1962) to anxious figurations of the planet’s limits as “Spaceship Earth” to the “science faction” of documentaries such as the History Channel’s series “Life After People” (2008–’10).
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