I am doing a series of articles about trends in modern Science Fiction that I hope you will find interesting. I will try to describe the trend and then use examples from books and tv series as ‘evidence’.
2. Environmental Disaster Earth
With all talks about global warming it’s not surprising that many current science fiction writers have taken that idea and run with it all the way to disasters that threatens life as we know it. This is a contrast to the world spanning cities of technological marvels or interstellar empires of old.
Some goes the way of the ultimate disaster that wipes out all life on earth. Ben Eaton might be a Comedian but his novel Stark is an excellent example of such a book. Most writers stop short of killing off the human race though, it makes for a better story if there is a few left to tell it.
Karen Travis has a different twist in her Wess’har Wars Series (City of Pearl, Crossing the Line, The World Before, Matriarch, Ally, Judge) . Here we meet aliens that are making a eco-jihad on the universe. It is interesting how they approach the restoration of earth.
The Windup Girl is another resent novel that has environmental disasters, this time its caused by calorie companies that releases plagues to destroy non patented seeds and to achieve monopoly on food. It doesn’t work out as intended instead it plunges the world into an even worse recession when the diseases mutate and start to affect animals and humans.
In many stories it is just a convenient backdrop to the story telling like in Elizabeth Bears Hammered or David J. Williams’ Mirrored Heaven and in others it’s a major part of the plot as in The Quiet War by Paul McAuley. Allen Steele’s Coyote Series also comes to mind somewhere in between.
There are fewer examples from television here, and usually the disasters portrayed here are more direct a nuclear strike, a virus or poison that kills off most of the human race and we get to follow the Survivors like in the tv series with the same name.
Blade Runner with its acid rain is maybe one of the lighter ones in this genre, Waterworld and the Mad Max Trilogy are other examples of earth after an environmental disaster, in the movie about the cute little robot Wall-E, earth is covered in garbage. The road is another example where an unexplained disaster kills most of the humans and plants don’t grow any more.
What do you think? There are many more examples out there, why don’t you add yours as a comment?