Thursday, November 1, 2007

More Near Future Touring

We recently acquired a book titled Ecofiction (thanks) from 1971 edited by John Stadler, with shorts by Bradbury, Ballard, Poe, Asimov and others. An interesting mix of possible futures from the horrific to the mundane. Standouts includes Poe's account of Earth's end by a comet that ignites the globe through an unexpected chemical reaction, the excruciatingly cramped existence of a family in a world where pharmaceuticals keep people from aging and dying by Vonnegut Jr., and a story of insidious subliminal advertising by Ballard. Interesting how many of these stories from well before the 1970s manage to resurface in new ways today.
In much more utopian terms, we also recommend Ernest Callenbach's 1975 Ecotopia - a vision of a US Northwest that has successfully separated itself from an ever waring and polluting United States. It has its sexist moments, so be warned if you haven't read it already.
However, our favorite tourist excursion into the near future through literature so far has been Octavia Butler's Parable of the Sower. Parable is an extremely powerful tale of a young woman in Southern California during a global social and environmental collapse that creeps up slowly, invading normalcy rather than a sudden Day After Tomorrow catastrophic scenario. A horrific as the scenes Butler creates are, it remains critically hopeful. Told mostly in first person narration, it is a great read for people who like guided tours.
And to close, a more updated near future tour of a mid-climate change London created by art-research collective Platform called And While London Burns. This story takes the form of an operatic audio-tour meant to be experienced in the current space of the future story. We haven't had that experience of the tour, but it's a quite listenable work nonetheless. The great Mute magazine has an interesting critical review of AWLB.

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