21 December 2007

Relevant and riveting anthology of "green" science fiction

Dreams Edge: Science Fiction Stories
Terry Carr
Sierra Club Books

"So here are twenty stories about energy depletion, endangered species, pollution, our vanishing wilderness, overpopulation, and alternative energy sources--problems of the immediate future. Science fiction still tells of wondrous futures far away and a long time from now...but these are stories of the boundaries that lie immediaely before us. We're coming to the edge of something---is it to be the death of our world, or an endless future? Before we think about next week, we need to know that there'll be a tomorrow." (p.4)
Indeed. While amazing stories of space colonization and alien invasion are still great fun, I currently find myself needing a science fiction that addresses my pressing "green" concerns. Science fiction has always been the literary form which demands that the writer and reader think through the unthinkable, and, as anthologist/contributor Terry Carr reminds the reader, previous impossiblities like space flight found their initial inspirations in the fancies of science fiction writers. Now that the unthinkable includes the prospect of the collapse of civlization, or even of life itself, we urgently need science fiction speculation to help us find our way. I, along with Carr, hope that this anthology will inspire its readers to "devote their working lives to solving environmental problems," so that science fiction may "make an even more important contribution to the world."

To this end, Terry Carr has collected twenty wide-ranging masterpieces to address these environmental concerns, and not one of the stories is disappointing. Some of my favorites include: "Occam's Scalpel," in which the old trope of extraterrestrial colonization of the Earth meets the new call for ecological awareness; "Young Love," a chilling love story set in a future where everyone abides in government-sanctioned idiocy; the metafictional "How Can We Sink When We Can Fly?"; John Shirley's chilling "Under the Generator," in which death itself is exploited as a source of energy; and Carr's own "Virra," a sad yet hopeful finish to the anthology. Each story is a gem; collected, they are a masterpiece.

(This review was originally written on March 2, 2007.)

No comments: