Monday, November 27, 2006

now wait a doggone second!

James Kunstler, May 2005:
question What advice would you give to parents -- should they be teaching their kids survival skills aside from how to cooperate and live in a small-scale community?

answer Teach them how to be polite and fair, and teach them how to play a musical instrument -- we're going to have to keep our spirits up. Make yourself a part of a cohesive community. Be prepared to carry your weight and deal with a hands-on vocation. There will be far fewer public-relations executives and far more milkmaids.

question This sounds a bit like science fiction for back-to-the-landers. Are you a sci-fi junkie?

answer I read next to zero science fiction. And I don't write it.\\

More recently:
DM: What are you currently working on? Your blog is amazingly busy, so I gather that takes up a lot of time. Are you writing, or planning to write, another book?

JHK: I am in the middle of a post-oil novel -- since that is a world that can only be imagined, not reported upon directly. I think people will be interested to receive a detailed, imagined picture of this future. The job of fiction is to create a plausible world. My blog connects me to my readership, but it, too, has diminishing returns. My email load as become a tremendous burden and an obstacle to getting things done. For the moment, I have accepted these consequences, but I can imagine a time ahead when I just "go tune my fiddle".

This post is not meant to poke fun at James Kunstler. I just can't help but notice that he is seemingly writing science fiction, even though he likely does not wish his futuristic novel framed as such.

Should be a good read. The gift of science fiction is that while it often gets the future exactly wrong, it maintains the power to prefigure events in unpredictable ways.

Like Blowups Happen, Heinlein's 1940 short story of hair-trigger tensions amongst the staff of a nuclear power plant. Things didn't turn out that way exactly -- yet an echo of this imagined tension manifested in the psychotic nuclear weapons period of the cold war and exists to this day. An itch that has never been scratched, nuclear war.

And they call peak oil types apocalyptic.


At 1:15 AM, November 28, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Predicting the near term future is a regular occupation of the dystopian Science Fiction writers. Usually the events that precipitate the crash are things like political breakdown, nuclear war, disease, some technical snaffu, asteroids, or some extra-terrestrial influence. I haven't seen one yet that specifically deals with post-oil issues but I would really like to. Kunstler sounds like a good candidate to me. I have read a lot of Science Fiction through the years and it occurs to me that most of the predictions they make in their stories won't ever happen. There is not enough surplus energy left in our world now to push a significant number of people and resources off the planet. And if we can't get off the planet we are stuck with the energy supply we have now. I guess space fiction needs to be moved into the fantasy classification.

At 10:27 PM, November 28, 2006, Blogger bunnygirl said...

Post-peak novels and short stories seem to be a growing trend. I've run across several in the blogsphere just in the last couple of months.

I have two complete drafts of a post-peak trilogy dealing with peak oil/resource wars, civil war, and water/climate issues. I also have a post-peak fictional blog just for fun. I was shopping the first of my novels last summer, but seeking representation can be just as time-consuming as writing, and I'd rather write.

Yeah, I'm no businesswoman. That's why I work for the public sector, I guess.

As of last summer, there seemed to be little perception in the publishing biz that there could be a market for a post-peak novel. But Kunstler already has an agent and a market, so I have a feeling he'll be the first to get a post-peak novel out on the store shelves. I'll buy it, and I'll probably buy extras for my friends.

The scenario of a dystopian novel doesn't have to be predictive. It merely needs to show a possible outcome should we not make an effort to change our course.

Not everyone is going to sit down with a non-fiction analysis of the state of the world's energy resources, so if we can reach these people via fiction, so much the better. It's kind of like the spoonful of sugar Mary Poppins sang about. If it gets people to take their medicine...

At 12:57 AM, November 29, 2006, Blogger monkeygrinder said...

Thanks Bill. Sometimes it seems to me that Kunstler is writing science fiction about the present:

"I was riding in a car at sundown between St. Cloud and Minneapolis on I-94 through a fifty-mile-plus corridor of bargain shopping infrastructure on each side of the highway. The largest automobile dealerships I have ever seen lay across the edge of the prairie like so many UFO landing strips, with eerie forests of sodium-vapor lamps shining down on the inventory."

Good stuff.

bunnygirl, I think you are on the right track and you might take a look at submitting something (like a short story) to:

Thanks for stopping by.


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