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Ecological Science Fiction
What is Ecological Science Fiction?
>What is Ecological Science Fiction?
Also known as Enviromental Science Fiction.
Science fiction with an emphasis on nature and the environment, either on Earth or somewhere amongst the stars. The story is developed around a change in the environment—climate change, flooding, impact winter—that is usually seen as a threat to humans and our way of life.
These stories are often built around humanity's relationship with nature and so the setting of these stories is incredibly well developed. While writers will often take liberties there is usually some truth at the core of the story.
Other Features of Ecological Science Fiction
- Level of Real Science
Low. This is a serious topic and science and technology certainly have environmental impacts (both positive and negative), but the stories of this sub-genre tend to create science and technology that is more flashy than real.
- Level of Grand Ideas/Social Implications
High. Ecological/Environmental Sci Fi almost always deals with a change in the environment. Sci Fi explores issues surrounding how humanity deals with change. Environmental change affects humanity in a very real and potentially radical way, which has powerful social implications.
While the sub-genre is idea driven, which makes for a stimulating story, it's not uncommon for stories to be overly didactic with their message or lesson.
- Level of Characterization
Moderate. In the face of environmental collapse, or some other significant ecological disaster, humans are forced to confront their relationship with the world—this kind of reflection can be quite enlightening for readers. However, character development can get lost in the thrill of the moment and in the message.
- Level of Plot Complexity
Moderate-High. Ecological/Environmental Sci Fi often have a thriller type of plot—full of movement, discovery, and action. This trait makes the plot engaging, though not necessarily complex.
- Level of Violence
Variable. Ecological/Environmental Sci Fi is sometimes a thriller and thus has potential for violence. Indeed, nature itself can turn violent. Or violence may appear as environmental extremists blowing up a dam. When the state of the world is at stake, what lengths wouldn't you go to? Alternatively, the sub-genre can be more contemplative and favor the exploration of ideas.
Related Science Fiction subgenres
Speculative Fiction. Speculating on how the environment will change in the future and what impacts these changes may have.
Apocalyptic Science Fiction. Nature is a powerful force, powerful enough to be the harbinger of the apocalypse
Utopian Science Fiction. In many fictitious utopian societies balance with nature has been achieved.
Ecological Science Fiction isn't for you if...
If you believe humanity's relationship with nature is insignificant. Or, if you don't like treehuggers (note: not all stories champion the treehugger).
- 1 The Coming of the Global Superstorm
- 2 Fallen Angels
- 3 Ecotopia
By Ernest Callenbach. Northern California, Oregon, and Washington have seceded from the United States to become an environmentally sustainable nation.
- 4 The Color of Distance
By Amy Thomson. A look at a world where the inhabitants live in balance with their environment—with a bit of darkness and complexity as you delve deeper.
- 5 Watermind
By M.M. Buckner. An artificial intelligence emerges from a river polluted with high-tech trash. The AI figure out how to purify its home, but some corporate types want to destroy it.
- 6 The Year of the Flood
By Margaret Atwood. A vision of the future that is environmentally blighted, plague ridden, and full of genetic manipulation. This is sort of a shadow book to Oryx and Crake, retelling the same central events.
- 7 Ship Breaker
By Paolo Bacigalupi The first in a YA dystopian series, this novel depicts an Earth where natural resources are exhausted, cities are drowning, and Antarctica is gone, global warming.
- 8 Alien Species Intervention
By J.K. Accinni. In this series the wildlife and environment are victims of political injustices and the destructive path of humanity.
- 9 Science in the Capital
By Kim Stanley Robinson. This series takes place in the near-future and focuses on the ramifications of global warming in the nation's capital and in day-to-day life.
- 10 Nature's Confession
By J.L. Morin. This is an adventure story, with a bit of humor, about two teens who try to save the world from ecological disaster.