New Columnist: Vandana Singh
Posted by Niall Harrison
7 March 2011
An exciting addition to the Strange Horizons lineup this week: Vandana Singh joins our roster of columnists. I'm a great admirer of Vandana's fiction -- including stories published here -- and I'm delighted she'l be writing for us on environmental and scientific topics. A flavour of her first column:
The dream is to rewild the world: to restore barren and impoverished forests, wetlands and other ecosystems through preserving core natural habitats, providing connectivity between core regions by reopening migration corridors, and reintroducing keystone species on whose presence the ecosystem's health depends. The dream is not about going "back to Nature," but about redefining and mending our relationship with her. And it is being dreamed by people around the world, from conservation biologists to impoverished communities threatened by the failure of their ecosystems. This dream, despite its fantastical qualities, is no pipe dream, but is informed by the most practical considerations you can imagine. As a group of young teens from Delhi learned so many decades ago, you cannot begin to achieve something of this scale "from the top." What it needs is a grassroots level involvement of the local people, whose rights and dignity cannot be trampled over in the name of "conservation." Sometimes they initiate change—on other occasions they need economic incentives to begin to be the stewards of their wildlands.
I pull this particular quote out because I'm wondering: how has our genre done at dreaming this dream? Or more precisely: what's the lineage? I could, off the top of my head, make a stab at constructing a history of hard sf, of feminist sf, of alternate history, of Marxist sf; ecological and environmental sf is surely no less important, but the best I could do would be a list of disconnected texts, I don't have a baseline narrative to fit them into.
What, for instance, was the first science fiction novel to tackle man-made, inadvertent, global-scale climate change and its consequences?