12.SFとエコロジー


Many think of science fiction as having little to do with ecology. When the term is mentioned, images such as sterile starship corridors and blinking computer lights are often what come to mind. But science fiction has a long association with ecology. Millennia before the terms “science fiction” or “ecology” were coined, proto-science-fictional tales were displaying an awareness of the importance of the environment, all the way back to the flood in The Epic of Gilgamesh―at roughly four thousand years old, the earliest known written work of literature. Science fiction at its best reflects the current concerns of society, and this is certainly true when it comes to themes of ecology.

 

Below is a short list of books, a recommended starting point for scholars who are interested in exploring science fiction from an ecocritical perspective.

 

Thomas More, Utopia (1516): Stresses the importance of agrarianism and of avoiding overpopulation. Like many utopian societies since, this one is geographically isolated from potentially hostile neighbors and fortunate in its forgiving climate and fertile lands, all of which are crucial to its utopian status.

 

Mary Shelley, Frankenstein (1818): Like many gothic romances, place and nature play important roles. The mountains, the Arctic icebergs, and more loom large in the story, but also we see the unfortunate results of abrogating Nature as the titular mad scientist attempts to overcome death.

 

HG Wells, The War of the Worlds (1898): Features biological warfare on the part of the invading Martians, who attempt to geoengineer the Earth into something more like their homeworld (areoforming rather than terraforming), only to be defeated by Earth’s hardier diseases.

 

Olaf Stapledon, Last and First Men (1930): Tracks humanity’s evolutionary development in response to changing environments on a grand scale of two billion years.

 

HP Lovecraft, At the Mountains of Madness (1931): In addition to beautiful descriptions of the difficulties of Antarctic exploration based on the paintings of Nicholas Roerich, Lovecraft looks at Earth’s environmental changes over billions of years of deep time.

 

Frank Herbert, Dune series (1965-1985): Describes the necessity of engaging closely with the environment for survival on a desert planet, and later novels in the series explore the changes in this desert culture when that desert environment is made more green and fertile.

 

Ursula Le Guin, The Dispossessed (1974): Features an anarchist utopian society that, unlike most utopias, must find a way to exist in a marginal, unforgiving environment. Ecological concerns play a strong role in many of her other novels, and she often comments on GMOs and the dangers of environmental damage.

 

Hayao Miyazaki, Nausicaä in the Valley of the Wind (風の谷のナウシカ, book 1982, film 1984): Like most of his work, a meditation on the dangers of environmental destruction and balancing human needs with the needs of nature.

 

Octavia Butler, Lilith’s Brood trilogy (1987-2000): Examines the question of whether humans are genetically predisposed to destroy their environment, and the meaning of truly living in harmony with nature.

 

Kim Stanley Robinson, Red Mars, Green Mars, Blue Mars, The Martians (1993-1999): Every one of his novels, from the Three Californias trilogy (1984-1990) to Shaman (2013), deals closely with environmental concerns, particularly climate change, terraforming, and overpopulation.

 

Margaret Atwood, The MaddAddam Trilogy (2003-2013): While the author prefers the term “speculative fiction” to “science fiction,” these novels of green neo-Christianity, genetically modified life forms (including humans), and survival in a broken post-apocalypse Eden fit comfortably within the science-fiction genre.

 

Paolo Bacigalupi, The Windup Girl (2009): His novels are so closely associated with the environment, climate change, GMOs, and alternative energy sources that they are sometimes referred to as “biopunk,” a new coinage deriving from the science-fiction subgenres cyberpunk and steampunk.


To be printed as a part of my paper on SF and Ecology in a book to be published by SES-Japan

                               



                                                                          (David Farnell)

 





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