Tom Sykes, Creative Writing lecturer at the University of Portsmouth, has published a chapter in A Global History of Literature and the Environment.
“When I was asked to contribute a chapter to this book I felt like it was a golden opportunity to bring together what some might think of as my very disparate research interests: science fiction, radical politics, environmentalism and urban sociology,” says Tom. “It was also a wonderful excuse to go back and re-read some of my favourite science and utopian fiction from Thomas More to William Morris, Isaac Asimov to Michael Moorcock, HG Wells to Brian Aldiss.”
Read the abstract of the chapter below:
Fantastic Metabolisms: A Materialist Approach to Modern Eco-Speculative Fiction
This chapter combines the epistemological methods Terry Eagleton proposes in Criticism and Ideology with the insights of radical ecologists such as John Bellamy Foster in order to analyse a long-standing trajectory of speculative fiction that, throughout history, has addressed the environmental violence done by particular sets of socio-political conditions. Although such texts date back to The Epic of Gilgamesh, the earliest known written narrative in human civilisation, this essay focuses on the most dramatic phase of the trajectory, when a good number of writers from John Brunner to Michael Moorcock, Kim Stanley Robinson to Brian Aldiss were compelled to engage with the severe ecological ruptures of the industrial and post-industrial periods. In the nineteenth century, the adverse effects of rapid industrialisation upon both the natural world and on human society informed a new social-ecological, material awareness (out of which concepts such as the metabolic rift were born). In the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, such awareness became more pronounced and more urgent, as rampant capitalist productivism began to put the planet at risk of total annihilation.
In addition, Tom has has a story about Ivory Coast published in Travel Africa magazine this month.
Feature Image credited to: UFZ / André Künzelmann (via Science Daily).