This is a guest post from Amanu Kaiju on the environmental messages in the work of African American science fiction writer Octavia Butler.
Octavia Butler was a prophet. Look around, the evidence is evident and growing everyday. Only the extremely foolish, extremely uniformed, or the extremely corrupt can doubt climate change and the rise of fascist politics. In her books Parable of the Sower and Parable of the Talents Butler paints a disturbing and quite possible picture of the near future.
Taking place in 2024, the world is on the brink of collapse, the environment is nearly shot, and government is a totalitarian decentralized beast. To survive people form bands of marauders, attempt to form makeshift tribes for protection, or become part of corporate ruled company towns. Resources are limited, only the wealthy have luxuries like electricity and refrigerators.
With the Earth on the cusp of failure, Lauren, the main character develops a means for humans to survive, a quasi- religion she calls Earthseed. She believes since the Earth will soon be uninhabitable and that Mankind’s destiny is in the stars. We are to seed the galaxy with humanity. Earthseed’s central philosophy can be summed up with:
All that you Change
The only lasting truth
Many societal issues in these two books reflect current trends taken a little further. Such as, education (for the under-classes) is indulged only to the point where you can work in a factory. Christianity is the one true religion; anyone professing otherwise is viewed and treated as subhuman. Sound familiar? Keep in mind these works were published in the early 90’s.
In ten years will Butler’s fiction become reality? Will the Tea Party rise to power? The only way to stop or slow climate change is with government mandated policies that curb the excesses of the multinational corporations devouring our limited natural resources, but that does not look like it’s going to happen. Have we done all we can on Earth? Is it time to look to the Stars?
Thanks for your contribution Amanu Kaiju
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