Green Planets: Ecology and Science Fiction

Green Planets: Ecology and Science Fiction



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 Miéville, 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. The book includes an extended interview with Kim Stanley Robinson and an annotated list for further exploration of “ecological SF” and related works of fiction, nonfiction, films, television, comics, children’s cartoons, anime, video games, music, and more.



Publication Date



Wesleyan University Press


Middletown, CT


English Language and Literature


Table of Contents


Introduction: If This Goes On — Gerry Canavan

PART 1 — Arcadias and New Jerusalems

1. Extinction, Extermination, and the Ecological Optimism of H.G. Wells —Christina Alt

2. Evolution and Apocalypse in the Golden Age — Michael page

3. Daoism, Ecology, and World Reduction in Le Guin’s Utopian Fictions — Gib Prettyman

4. Biotic Invasions: Ecological Imperialism in New Wave Science Fiction — Rob Latham

PART 2 — Brave New Worlds and Lands of the Flies

5. “The Real Problem of a Spaceship Is Its People”: Spaceship Earth as Ecological Science Fiction — Sabine Höhler

6. The Sea and Eternal Summer: An Australian Apocalypse — Andrew Milner

7. Care, Gender, and the Climate-Changed Future: Maggie Gee’s The Ice People — Adeline Johns-Putra

8. Future Ecologies, Current Crisis: Ecological Concern in South African Speculative Fiction — Elzette Steenkamp

9. Ordinary Catastrophes: Paradoxes and Problems in Some Recent Post-Apocalypse Fictions — Christopher Palmer

PART 3 — Quiet Earths, Junk Cities, and the Cultures of the Afternoon

10. “The Rain Feels New”: Ecotopian Strategies in the Short Fiction of Paolo Bacigalupi — Eric C. Otto

11. Life after People: Science Faction and Ecological Futures — Brent Bellamy and Imre Szeman

12. Pandora’s Box: Avatar, Ecology, Thought — Timothy Morton

13. Churning Up the Depths: Nonhuman Ecologies of Metaphor in Solaris and “Oceanic”: — Melody Jue

Afterword: Still, I’m Reluctant to Call This Pessimism — Gerry Canavan and Kim Stanley Robinson

Of Further Interest

About the Contributors


Green Planets: Ecology and Science Fiction