It allows us to imagine a way forward, to explore futures that celebrate life in much the same way that technological science fiction has given us such modern conveniences as cell phones, laptop computers, the internet, and space exploration. All of this wonderful technology comes with serious environmental price tags we have kicked down the road for future generations. It calls us to start envisioning ways we will pay off this considerable debt – what will remain and what will be lost.
James Howard Kunstler wrote lots of “peak oil” nonfiction before jumping into his series World Made by Hand, another way to imagine a not-too-shabby near future, one without electricity or petroleum. Joel Caris took up the subject of “deindustrial” fiction and put together a wonderful quarterly magazine, Into the Ruins, which sadly published its last edition a few months ago. Joel has back copies for sale.
Back in the 1970s & 1980s, when feminist sci fi made itself known, a number of authors wrote books I’d call “deindustrial”. Suzy McKee Charnas’ Holdfast series began with two books that are still available on Kindle, Walk to the End of the World, and Motherlines. The last two books, Conquerer’s Child and The Furies, bring the series to a satisfying conclusion, although they are out of print and a bit more pricey. Marge Piercy’s Woman on the Edge of Time calls us to a better future, as does Sally Gearhart’s The Wanderground, at least to my mind. Marion Zimmer Bradley’s Darkover series, set on another planet, so inherently NOT “deindustrial” which must stay on Earth, imagines a gender bending world more in tune with nature and people. Bradley’s Darkover series has been called the “biography of a planet”.
There may be many more of these kinds of sci-fi books. Tell me about your favorites.