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Science Fiction and the Ecological Conscience


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SCIENCE FICTION AND THE ECOLOGICAL CONSCIENCE By ERIC OTTO A DISSERTATION PRESENTED TO THE GRADUATE SCHOOL OF THE UNIVERSITY OF FLOR IDA IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA 2006

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Copyright 2006 by Eric Otto

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This is for Tricia and Beatrice

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iv ACKNOWLEDGMENTS My dissertation chair, Andrew Gordon, has enthusiastically backed my ideas and provided extensive commentary on drafts of this study, and for that I thank him. I also thank Sid Dobrin, Bron Taylor, and Phil Wegne r for the time and effort they put into working on my dissertation committee. I ap preciate the encouraging words of my colleagues at Florida Gulf Coast University and thank them for welcoming me into their family. I thank my mom, Sandy, and my da d, Joe, for their support over the years and also extend this thanks to my sister, Tr acy, and my brothers, Joey, Casey, Ricky, and Chad. Finally, and for so many reasons, I thank my wife, Tricia, and my daughter, Beatrice.

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v TABLE OF CONTENTS page ACKNOWLEDGMENTS.................................................................................................iv ABSTRACT......................................................................................................................v ii CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION........................................................................................................1 2 SCIENCE FICTION AND TH E ECOLOGICAL CONSCIENCE..............................6 The Ecological Conscience...........................................................................................8 Why Science Fiction?.................................................................................................12 Conclusion..................................................................................................................20 3 THE SUBVERSIVE SUBJECT OF ECOLOGY.......................................................23 Subversive Ecology in Early Science Fiction: Some Considerations.......................28 Last and First Men ..............................................................................................30 “Twilight”............................................................................................................34 Earth Abides ........................................................................................................38 Dune ....................................................................................................................47 Conclusion..................................................................................................................56 4 ECOTOPIA, DYS(ECO)TOPIA, AND THE VISIONS OF DEEP ECOLOGY.......58 Deep Ecology, Ecotopia and Woman on the Edge of Time .......................................61 Population and Economy.....................................................................................63 Perception, Community, a nd Ecocentric Living.................................................70 Deep Ecology and the Dys(eco)t opian Visions of John Brunner...............................77 Stand on Zanzibar ................................................................................................79 The Sheep Look Up ..............................................................................................85 Conclusion..................................................................................................................94 5 ECOFEMINIST SCIENCE FICTION.......................................................................96 Negotiating Ecofeminist Territories I: Essentialism and the Ecological Conscience of Woman............................................................................................98 The Wanderground ............................................................................................105

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vi Always Coming Home .......................................................................................110 A Door Into Ocean ............................................................................................118 Negotiating Ecofeminist Territories II: Social Constructionist Ecofeminism and the Limits of Essentialism.....................................................................................123 Conclusion................................................................................................................135 6 TOWARD AN ECOLOGICALLY C ONSCIOUS POLITICAL ECONOMY: ECOSOCIALIST REFLECTIONS..........................................................................137 Ecosocialism.............................................................................................................139 The Space Merchants ................................................................................................145 The Word for World is Forest ...................................................................................152 The Mars Trilogy and the Eco-Economy..................................................................158 Conclusion................................................................................................................167 7 CONCLUSION: FROM FICTION TO ACTION...................................................168 LIST OF REFERENCES.................................................................................................172 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH...........................................................................................182

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vii Abstract of Dissertation Pres ented to the Graduate School of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy SCIENCE FICTION AND THE ECOLOGICAL CONSCIENCE By Eric Otto May 2006 Chair: Andrew Gordon Major Department: English Central to early environmentalist Al do Leopold’s thinking, the ecological conscience leads individuals, institutions, a nd societies to understa nd human existence as a part of ecosystemic integrity—rather than apart from it—and to behave accordingly. An ecocritical literary study, this disserta tion observes multiple expressions of this ecological conscience in several works of sc ience fiction (SF). Various philosophical and theoretical insights into why modern culture lacks an ecological conscience emerged with Twentieth-Century environmentalism, includi ng the science of ecology itself, deep ecology, ecofeminism, and ecosocialism. The chapters of this study locate narrative efforts in SF to perform the ecocritical, c onscience-building work of environmental philosophy and theory. For example, George R. Stewart’s Earth Abides (1949) asserts the essential animality of the human species, challenging the human/nature dichotomy so central to modern ideologies. Marge Piercy’s Woman on the Edge of Time (1976)—a work of ecotopian fiction—speculates on many of the cultural changes advocated by deep ecology, an environmental philosophy cri tical of Western civilization’s human-

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viii centeredness. Joan Slonczewski’s A Door Into Ocean (1986) relates the oppression of nature by humans to the oppression of wome n by men, but turns a critical eye toward ecofeminist understandings that are too e ssentialist. And Kim Stanley Robinson’s Mars trilogy (1993, 1994, 1996) narrates the possibil ity of an eco-economy, an ecologically sustainable economic system that eschews de structive capitalist economic paradigms. Ultimately, this dissertation shows that scien ce fiction is actively engaged in ecological work, in a “transformative politics” that opera tes on the conceptual level to encourage an ecological conscience that in the end will manifest itself in revised human actions.

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1 CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION The science fiction (SF) scholar Carl Freedman writes in his book Critical Theory and Science Fiction “I do believe that both critical theory and science fiction have the potential to play a role in the libera tion of humanity from oppression” (xx). “[U]nswervingly oppositional,” critical theo ry invigorates liberatory consciousness because it challenges in so many ways hege monic intellectual, so cial, and political constructs (8). Marxist th eory opposes capitalist struct ures; psychoanalytic theory counters simplified models of knowledge; pos tstructuralism questi ons the totalizing impulses of theory itself; and feminist theory targets patriarchal social paradigms. To exercise critical theory is thus to interven e in dominant modes of thinking and being and to challenge what is inherently limiting, oppressive, or dangerous in these modes. If theory “constantly shows that things are not what they seem to be and that things need not eternally be as they are,” as Fr eedman observes, then by its generic nature science fiction is the litera ture of critical interrogation (8). As Brooks Landon shows, science fiction resists concrete definitions; bu t, he admits, “we have a pretty good idea of the kinds of territory it cove rs and the kinds of experien ces we can expect in those territories” (32). Science fiction territo ries include considering how science and technology affect humanity, focu sing on affairs more significant than the fate of one individual or community, and speculating on conceptual innovations that challenge traditional constructs of knowledge and being (31-33). Most importantly, science fiction is about problems of the now and encourages critical reflection on these problems. As

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2 such, SF performs in narrative critical theory ’s revisionary and oppos itional speculations, ultimately contemplating the result of potential changes in the ideological status quo for a better human existence on the Earth. This dissertation takes seri ously Freedman’s claim about the liberatory value of science fiction, only its focus is on the eco logical dimensions of SF and the role ecocritical theory can play in freeing ecological systems from current forms of human domination. Ecocritic Cheryll Glotfelty a sserts that the common motivation behind all ecocritical analysis is “the troubling awar eness that we have reached the age of environmental limits, a time when the cons equences of human actions are damaging the planet’s basic life support systems” (xx). An ecocritical study shar ing this awareness, this dissertation finds in a range of science fiction narratives an interest in energizing what Aldo Leopold has called “the ecological conscience,” the intellectual, sp iritual, and practical understanding that humans do not exis t apart from natural systems and that all human actions must ensue accordingly to pr eserve ecosystemic integrity. Chapter 1 defines in more detail the ecological conscience as it also discusses why science fiction is an appropriate genre for ecological thought. In the subsequent four chapters of this study I read a range of science fiction texts as informing and informed by various manife stations of the ecological conscience in ecocritical discourse. Chapter 2, “The Subve rsive Subject of Ecology,” reviews the idea that the conceptual understa ndings of the science of ecol ogy inherently subvert dominant epistemological and ontological paradigms and as a result challenge much of the modern world’s social and political architecture. Early science fiction works—those published prior to the appearance of modern environmen talism in the late 1960s as well as prior to

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3 the expansion of the SF genre around the same time—are unlikely to pose the types of ecocritical questions that more recent narratives have found the philosophical resources to ask. But if not aware of the rich theo retical future of environmentalism, Olaf Stapledon’s Last and First Men (1931), John W. Cambell’s “Twilight” (1934), George R. Stewart’s Earth Abides (1949), and Frank Herbert’s Dune (1965) do demonstrate an ecological literacy that leads to profound questions about the role and actions of humanity in the intercon nected, ecological world. Ecological awareness has, since the 1960s, inspired not one uni vocal expression of the ecological conscience but several pers pectives on ecological crisis. Chapter 3, “Ecotopia, Dys(eco)topia, and the Visions of Deep Ecology,” examines deep ecology— one of these perspectives—and the ways utopi an and dystopian scie nce fiction advocate many of its tenets. Deep ecology argues for the full expression of existence for all species and notes that the modern trend toward human-centeredness, or anthropocentrism, prevents this from o ccurring. Utopian texts such as Ernest Callenbach’s Ecotopia (1975) and Marge Piercy’s Woman on the Edge of Time (1976) envision physical and intellectual spaces wh ere anthropocentric reasoning gives way to ecologically-centered lifestyles. And in contrast, though still deep ecological in their interests, John Brunner’s dystopian Stand on Zanzibar (1968) and The Sheep Look Up (1972) extrapolate a future empty of the ecological conscience that deep ecology promotes. Chapter 4 looks at another philosophical trend in modern environmentalism: ecofeminism. For ecofeminism, an ecological conscience cannot emerge in individuals or cultures without attending to the similarities between the domination of the nonhuman

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4 world by humans and of women by men. The lib eration of the natural world from human (male) dominance is one hope in a web of hopes for ecofeminism, which targets all forms of oppression. There is a tension within ecofeminism, however, between those who view women as innately closer to nature than men, and theorize liberation accordingly, and those who see the woman-nature connection as supporting a patriarc hal construction of gender and overlooking the role of socialization in this construction. Sally Miller Gearhart’s The Wanderground: Stories of the Hill Women (1979), Ursula K. Le Guin’s Always Coming Home (1985), and Joan Slonczewski’s A Door Into Ocean (1986) grapple with this tension in their narratives. And though th eir conclusions do not support the most recent forms of social constructioni st ecofeminist theory, each novel to varying degrees challenges its own essentialist understa ndings, ultimately demonstrating that the feminist ecological conscience is the product of an ongoing dialectic. Of the common threads that run throughout th is dissertation, the most prevalent is an almost universal interrogation of capitalism, in both fiction and theory. Most of the texts referred to find capitalism to be an ecologically illiterate economic system that favors economic growth over the long-term sustainability of ecological systems and the species, including humans, that depend on th ese systems. Chapter 5, “Toward an Ecologically Conscious Economy: Ecosocialist Reflections,” thus necessarily develops this interrogation by examining three works of SF that overtly critique capitalist ideology: Frederik Pohl and C.M. Kornbluth’s The Space Merchants (1952), Le Guin’s The Word for World is Forest (1972), and Kim Stanley Robinson’s Mars trilogy (1993, 1994, 1996). Pohl and Kornbluth’s book examines th e capitalist advertising apparatus, which overwrites environmental and social conditions of production with mythologies of desire

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5 and need. Le Guin’s novella examines cap italist conditions of production on a planet where the natural world and the native populatio n are sacrificed for profit. And finally, Robinson’s trilogy speculates on an eco-economy and its component pol itical processes. Here, sustainable economic methods and open socio-political discourse finally prevail over capitalist explo itation and closure. Glotfelty writes, “An ecologically focused criticism is a worthy enterprise primarily because it directs our attention to matters about which we need to be thinking” (xxiv). But the texts analyzed in this study do not become ecocritical and important for environmental thought as a result of the “ecolo gically focused criticism” to which they are subjected. Rather, they are already ecocriti cal. If Freedman’s analyses show that science fiction is critical theory, then the analyses below show that eco-science fiction is ecocritical theory. In every case, the SF narrati ves cited in this dissertation theorize in different and imperative ways the reasons why modern culture has failed to maintain an ecological conscience and the things we can do to move toward a new era of ecological thinking and being.

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6 CHAPTER 2 SCIENCE FICTION AND THE ECOLOGICAL CONSCIENCE In his posthumously published and now classic environmentalist text A Sand County Almanac (1949), Aldo Leopold writes about the day he saw a wolf die at the hands of his hunting party. Having chanced upon a “pile of wolves” while pursuing a doe, Leopold and the other hunters carelessly fire their guns (130). He admits, “In those days we had never heard of passing up a chance to kill a wolf. In a second we were pumping lead into the pack, but with more ex citement than accuracy: how to aim a steep downhill shot is always confusing. When our rifles were empty, the old wolf was down, and a pup was dragging a leg into impassable sl ide-rocks” (130). Though a true incident in Leopold’s biography, this ki lling frenzy symbolizes a broader trend with which the science fiction texts and environmental philo sophies examined in this study are also concerned: modern culture’s hasty and compul sory exploitation of th e natural world. In so many ways, modern culture has imp eriled human and nonhuman life and the ecosystems necessary to this life: by belie ving the human species is superior to other species, by poisoning the air and water with industrial chemicals, by hastening unprecedented increases in global temperatur e with the burning of fossil fuels, by consuming ever-higher amounts of resource-in tensive foods such as beef and pork, by invading wilderness to build expanding s uburban communities and the highways that connect them. If Leopold’s hunt implies the thoughtless modern will to dominate nature, then what he learns from his hunt implies the po ssibility that this oppressive will can be

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7 replaced with a respect for the natural worl d and a less exploitive re lationship with it. Leopold continues, We reached the old wolf in time to watch a fierce green fire dying in her eyes. I realized then, and have known ever since, that there was something new to me in those eyes—something known only to her and to the mountain. I was young then, and full of trigger-itch; I t hought that because fewer wolves meant more deer, that no wolves would mean hunters’ paradise. But after seeing the green fire die, I sensed that neither the wolf nor the m ountain agreed with such a view. (130) In this very spiritual moment, Leopold learns two concepts that challenge his previous understanding of na ture and inspire his call for “an intense consciousness of land” (223).1 He realizes that the wolf, and by extension individual species, have meaning and purpose beyond thei r recreational and economic value; they are morally considerable. As the philosopher Karen J. Warren acknowledges, such a view of species “expresses a groundless attitude [. .] [that] can be explaine d but not ultimately proven” and thus requires “a willingness on our part to see nonhuman animals and nature as subjects, as active participants in our worl ds, as not mere things (mere resources, properties, or commodities), as deserving of our care and atten tion” (76). Second, Leopold learns that while species have intrinsic value, they also have ecological meaning that humans often overlook or are untrained to notice. Wolves, for example, do not threaten deer populations, as Leopold once beli eved; rather, because of the ecological principles behind predator-prey relationshi ps, their presence is essential to deer 1 Discussing animal welfare ethics, Bron Taylor notes, “Not a few animal activists recall that their beliefs really began suddenly, or intensified greatly, upon the occasion of eye-to-eye contact with an animal” (“Environmental Ethics”). Though Leopold was not speci fically an animal activist, his experience with the wolf speaks to the connectedness between human and nonhuman species that the ecological conscience recognizes, often an intuitive, spiritual connectedne ss that defines much animal and environmental activism.

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8 populations.2 Leopold lacked an ecological consci ence before his hunting trip, but he finds both spiritual and scientific ecol ogical understanding in his experience. Metaphorically, Leopold argues that only in adopting an ecological conscience can modern culture question its flawed ideas and change to less environmentally exploitive ways. Central to this study is th e idea that many works of sc ience fiction share with Leopold, and with environmentalism in general, th e desire to instigate an intellectual, and often spiritual, movement toward ecol ogical understanding, toward adopting the ecological conscience that Leopold believes is so important for modern culture. Central to this study, too, is the idea th at critical attention to scie nce fiction not only uncovers its desire to inform an individual and cultura l ecological conscience but also has much pedagogical value in actually do ing so. Thus, this chapter has two purposes: to define what exactly the ecological conscience is and to demonstrate why SF is ideally suited to argue in its favor. The Ecological Conscience Defined in the OED as “The internal acknowledgment or recognition of the moral quality of one’s motives and actions,” conscience stems from a number of psychological and social factors that direct what is right and wrong (def. 4a ). But whether inherent in the human unconscious as Freud’s superego or a necessary product of social evolution, the moral supervision of the conscience is driv en most persistently by religious doctrine. However much institutional religious systems encourage moral law within strictly human 2 In Desert Solitaire (1968), the celebrated environmentalist Edward Abbey reiterates Leopold’s ecological observation, coloring the similar point, however, with his characteristically unabashed criticism of modern humanity: “the deer [. .] had become victims of human meddling with the natural scheme of things—not enough coyotes around and the mountain lions close to extinction, the deer have multiplied like rabbits and are eating themselves out of ho use and home” (37).

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9 communities, though, they do little to define ri ght and wrong in ecological terms. JudeoChristian thinking, in fact, draws a line be tween humans and the rest of nature, organizing morality and conscience accord ingly. Thus, the concept of the ecological conscience begs an attention not to the moral principles of any organized religion but instead to the insights of sp irituality, particularly of Ea rth-based spirituality and its ecological politics of interconnectedness. Fundamentally different from and existing prior to religion, which promotes codified law, Earth-based spiritual ity engages the inner self as a component of a grea ter totality. Citing religious studies by the scholars Peter van Ness and Anna King, the religionist and ra dical environmentalism scholar Bron Taylor points to some key terminologies th at define spiritual understanding—“‘cosmic totality,’” “‘wholeness,’” and “‘interdependence,’” to name a few (176). As such, spirituality and ecology go hand-in-hand, the fo rmer giving moral considerability to the latter, making the natural world—an interd ependent, whole tota lity—mean something more to humans than a quantifiable repository of recreational or economic resources. Although Aldo Leopold “rarely alluded to hi s personal religious beliefs,” as the Leopold biographer Curt Meine admits, essent ial to and defining the effect of the ecological conscience is what he term s “the land ethic,” a concept of moral interdependence made possible in part by a perception of the sacrality of ecosystems (“Leopold”). Referring to the Golden Rule a nd democracy as ethical ideals that in the former case “integrate the individual to societ y” and in the latter case “integrate social organization to the individual” (203), Leopold observes that ethi cs “has its origin in the tendency of interdependent indi viduals or groups to evolve m odes of co-operation” (202). Perplexing Leopold, however, is the absence of the land in modern society’s ethical

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10 paradigms. He notices that traditional et hical ideals have only a social basis in emphasizing the obligations humans have towa rd each other, but no ethic looks beyond social relationships to stress human obligations toward the natural world. By definition, then, “The land ethic simply enlarges the bound aries of the community to include soils, waters, plants, and animals, or collectively: the land” (204). Leopold notes that a land ethic “reflects th e existence of an ecological conscience, and this in turn reflects a conviction of i ndividual responsibility fo r the health of the land” (221). The land ethic is thus born fr om an ecological consci ence that understands that as a biological species humans have oblig ations as members of natural ecosystems, that “A thing is right when it tends to preser ve the integrity, stability, and beauty of the biotic community. It is wrong when it te nds otherwise” (224-225). To act on the ecological conscience is to behave in a way that maintains just relationships among people but also extends such moral consider ability “from people to land” (209). This ethical development in conscience cannot be accomplished “without an internal change in our intellectual emphasis, loya lties, affections, and convict ions,” and Leopold points out several of the ideological shifts inherent in a movement toward an intense consciousness of land: one economic, one educat ional, and one historical (210). Leopold criticizes the tendenc y in the modern world to view the land through the lens of economic self-interest. He writes, “The farmer who clears the woods off a 75 per cent slope, turns his cows into the clearing, and dumps its rainfall, rocks, and soil into the community creek, is still (if otherwise decent) a respected member of society” (209). An ideological transformation in social priority from making profit to maintaining a healthy ecology, though, would bankrupt this farmer b ecause the negative environmental effects

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11 of his activities on human and nonhuman sp ecies would take precedence over their positive economic effects. But, Leopold lame nts while also referencing the similar economic logic of American slavery, “Landuse ethics are still governed wholly by economic self-interest, just as social ethics were a century ago” (209). On educational change, Leopold advocates more widespread literacy about the dynamics of the natural world. He notes, “One of the requisites for an ecological comprehension of land is an understanding of ecology, and this is by no means coextensive with ‘education’; in fact, much higher education seems deliberately to avoid ecological concepts” (224). Leopold’s central pedagogical image for a healthy environment is “a tangle of chains so complex as to seem disorderl y, yet the stability of the system proves it to be a highly organized structure. Its fu nctioning depends on the co-operation and competition of its diverse parts” (215). Lacking awareness of this natural complexity and of the fr agility of natural systems that need their diverse parts to function has led modern culture to conduct itself unsustainably. Finally, in addition to its economic and intellectual distance from the natural world, modern culture further manifests its disconnection from place through its historical narratives. Leopold envisions a more ecologically conscious culture as one that understands its history not just in terms of so cial interactions but also in terms of the nonhuman world. As an example of this revise d historical understand ing, he writes of the settlement of the Mississippi valley, In the years following the Re volution, three groups were contending for its control: the native Indian, the French and Englis h traders, and the American settlers. Historians wonder what woul d have happened if the Engl ish at Detroit had thrown a little more weight into the Indian side of those tipsy scales which decided the outcome of the colonial migration into th e cane-lands of Kent ucky. It is time now to ponder the fact that the can e-lands, when subjected to the particular mixture of

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12 forces represented by the cow, plow, fire, a nd axe of the pioneer, became bluegrass. What if the plant succession inherent in this dark and bloody ground had, under the impact of those forces, given us some worthless sedge, shrub, or weed? Would Boone and Kenton have held out? Would th ere have been any overflow into Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, and Missouri? Any L ouisiana Purchase? Any transcontinental union of new states? Any Civil War? (205-206) About Leopold’s ecological historicism, James I. McClintock notes, “History, whether in terms of losses or gains, is understood as humans acting within, not outside or above nature” (30). The ecological conscience thus manifests reworked religio-ethical understandings as well as modified paradigms of economics, ed ucation, and history: the natural world is morally considerable; the natural world is valuable not as commodity but as community; the natural world possesses a complexity that quashes simple intu ition and therefore requires deep levels of critical understandi ng prior to the initiation of any intrusive human project; and the natural world plays a pr ofound part in all histor ical narratives. At the root of this conscience are fundamental in terrogations of “basic paradoxes: man the conqueror versus man the biotic citizen; scien ce the sharpener of his sword versus science the searchlight on his uni verse; land the slave and servant versus land the collective organism” (223). Such interrogati ons figure prominently into the ecological science fiction reviewed in the following chap ters, thus connecting the interests of SF with the interests of Leopold and the host of environmental thinkers that precede and follow him. Why Science Fiction? The ecological conscience pervades texts of many genres and many historical periods. It surfaces in William Wordsworth’s “Nutting” (1799) shortly after the narrator violently strikes down the clusters of a hazel nut tree, deforming the natural integrity of

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13 the woods. While making him “rich beyond the wealth of kings” ( 51), the narrator’s mutilation of natural order conjures “a sense of pain,” particularly after he witnesses the scene, now calmed, altered from its previous st ate as a result of his intrusion (52). In James Fenimore Cooper’s The Pioneers (1823), Natty Bumpo articu lates the voice of the ecological conscience. Representing th e characteristics of what Leopold calls “a distinctively American tradition of self-reliance, hardihood, woodcraft, and marksmanship,” Natty Bumpo speaks out agains t the villagers’ wasteful hunting customs (179). “‘[I]t’s wicked to be shooting into flocks in this wasty manner,’” Natty says, extending moral judgments to those whose exploitation of nature goes beyond human necessity (236). In other literature, Henry David Thoreau moved to Walden Pond to restore in himself the physical and spiritual connection between humans and nature severed by the industrial age. This restor ation produced in Thoreau a self embedded in the land and educated by natural processes rather than by th e artificial mechanics of civilization. For Walt Whitman, the fundamental interrelationships of nature—the dive rse but intertwined life forms that roll in the tid e in his “Sea-Drift” cluster (1881), for example—symbolize the democratic self he works to create in much of his poetry. And Mary Austin’s The Land of Little Rain (1903) overflows with the names of species that intermingle within the desert ecology about which she writes, representing not only the intricacies of ecological interrelations but also one writer’s understanding that all members of the ecological community have value in themse lves. For Thoreau, Whitman, and Austin—as for Wordsworth and his British Romantic cont emporaries as well as later writers like John Muir and Robinson Jeffers, who like Aus tin carried ecocentric values into the

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14 expanding American west—the natural worl d provided a philosophical model for human civilization and a necessary counterpoin t to the swelling industrial complex.3 Surely, a study of the ecological conscience in literature—that is to say, a study of the ways literature has highlighted the in trinsic significance of the nonhuman world, the fundamental connectedness of human and nonhuman species, and the damage that modern trends have brought to ecological systems and ecocentric ideas—could examine texts from “Nutting” to The Land of Little Rain or, to name some more contemporary texts, from Gary Snyder’s Turtle Island (1974) to Janisse Ray’s Ecology of a Cracker Childhood (1999). Spanning a range of fiction, poe try, and personal narrative, these texts all have in common a sense of the natural world contrary to the ideological thrust of the increasingly anti-ecological modern world. If the ecocritical move ment in contemporary literary theory “Most of all [. .] seeks to evaluate texts and ideas in terms of their coherence and usefulness as responses to en vironmental crisis,” then such texts as Wordsworth’s, Ray’s, Whitman’s, or Austin’s ar e ideally suited for the task (Kerridge 5). But as Ursula K. Heise asserts, ecocritical analysis is not lim ited to “a narrow canon of nature writing,” to the Thoreaus, Le opolds, and Snyders (1096). She writes in a letter in PMLA ’s 1999 Forum on Literatures of the Environment “Ecocriticism analyzes the ways in which literature represents the hum an relation to nature at particular moments of history, what values are assigned to na ture and why, and how perceptions of the 3 For George Sessions, the ecocentrism of Wordsworth, Thoreau, Austin, and others continue a naturecentered cultural trend that extends way back to primal cultures and that finds its philosophical manifestations in Baruch Spinoza’s pantheism, Thoreau’s “philosophy of the wild,” and George Santayana’s critiques of Western ph ilosophy (“Ecocentrism” 165). In fact, Sessions argues that the anthropocentric philosophies of medieval Christianity, Renaissance humanism, and the Enlightenment mark a mere “anthropocentric detour” in the course of history—a detour that, despite its historical brevity, has informed a range of environmen tally destructive cultural attitudes.

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15 natural shape literary tropes a nd genres,” and “no genre is in principle exempt from this kind of analysis” (1097). Heise continues, [O]ne of the contemporary genres in which questions about nature and environmental issues emerge most clearly is science fiction: from the novels and short stories of Brian Aldiss, John Brunner, and Ursula K. Le Guin in the 1960s and 1970s to those of Carl Amery, David Brin, Kim Stanley Robinson, and Scott Russell Sanders in the 1980s and 1990s, scienc e fiction is one of the genres that have most persistently and most dari ngly engaged environmental questions and their challenge to our vision of the future. (1097) Though Heise’s letter only briefly argues th e value of science fi ction for ecocritical inquiry, Patrick D. Murphy fleshes out the po int a bit more. In his study of natureoriented literature, Murphy writes, science fi ction can (1) “provide factual information about nature and human-nat ure interactions” and (2) “provide thematically environmentalist extrapolations of conflict and crisis based on such in formation” (41). I will consider the latter point in a moment, but Murphy’s first point is demonstrated most visibly in subsequent chapters of th is study in novels such as Stewart’s Earth Abides Herbert’s Dune and Slonczewski’s A Door Into Ocean which spend significant time detailing the ecologies of thei r respective imagined spaces as well as the effects of these spaces on the humans who inhabit them. Such a characteristic attention to space, in which, as Fredric Jameson notes, “the collective adventure accordingly becomes le ss that of a character (individual or collective) than that of a planet, a climate, a weather and a system of landscapes,” gives science fiction an ecocritical potential (313). Jameson obs erves in Vonda McIntyre’s The Exile Waiting (1975), and as a generic quality of SF in general, “a significant displacement of our reading interest from narrativ e [. .], with its linear causality, toward spatial experience as such” (312). To point out Jameson’s observation is not to say that causality is not an interest of science fic tion or one of our interests in reading it,

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16 particularly in reading a na ture-oriented SF in which pr essing ecocritical speculations about the past, the present, and the ecologi cal future come to the fore—Murphy’s second point. But Jameson’s underlining of science fi ction’s spatial tendencies demonstrates the special significance of place—of planets, of climates, of weathers, and of landscapes4—in the genre, a magnitude on par w ith the realist novel’s central and detailed attention to character development. As a genre highlig hting the exterior world as the elemental source of interior human meaning—of huma n narrative, so to speak—SF performs precisely the cultural work of green move ments, which against modern inclination underscore the role of the outer world, of ecological space, in human meaning-making. Murphy’s second and related point highli ghts science fiction’s extrapolative tendencies as essential to its crucial position as environmentalist li terature. A defining concept in science fiction studies, extrapol ation in literature is the act of drawing conclusions about the future based on the circumstances of the present. As Murphy notes, “extrapolation emphasizes that the pres ent and the future are interconnected—what we do now will be reflected in the future” (“The Non-Alibi” 263). Extrapolation happens in the near-future se ctions of Stapledon’s Last and First Men when our human generation bankrupts itself of fossil fuels as a result of its maintaining high consumption levels of oil and coal. Extrapolation happens, too, in Pohl and Kornbluth’s The Space Merchants when the authors envision a future dominated by the ubiquitous advertising complex that was starting to emerge in the 1950s and has si nce helped drive the postindustrial world’s excessive consumption habits. In speculat ing on the consequences of present human actions and extending current trends to thei r potential conclusions, extrapolative science 4 Of the Earth, namely, no matter what its fictional manifestation might be in any story.

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17 fiction is perfectly situated to demonstrat e how these actions and trends threaten the future. As such, extrapolative ecological SF can do much in the environmentalist call for an individual and cultural ecological conscience. The ecocritical potential of science fiction does not only emerge from its spatial and futurological tendencies. As the SF schol ar Joseph Marchesani notes, extrapolation “provides science fiction with a quality that Darko Suvin has called ‘cognitive estrangement,’ the recognition that what we are reading is not the world as we know it, but a world whose change forces us to reconsid er our own with an ou tsider’s perspective” (par. 8). About estrangement, the SF th eorist Suvin quotes Bertolt Brecht: “‘A representation which estranges is one which al lows us to recognize it s subject, but at the same time makes it seem unfamiliar’” (60). In this regard, the subjects of science fiction stories—their socio-political settings, thei r technologies, their utopian or dystopian visions, their ecologies, or in short, their sp aces—are more about the now than about the future or an alternative present. But unlike other genres such as myth, fa iry tale, and fantasy, which also deviate from realistic representation in estranging wa ys, science fiction “sees the norms of any age, including emphatically its own, as unique changeable, and ther efore subject to a cognitive glance” (Suvin 61). Suvin argues that myth, fairy tale, and fantasy are not “cognitive” because the intention of their estran gement is to portray absolutes about their represented other worlds rather than changeab le conditions that read ers can recognize as mirroring or germinating from their empirical present. Science fiction often shows that current or future discord or harmony is born from something unique in the now; its narratives are thus cognitive investigations, as SF historia n Edward James remarks, “of

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18 possible social systems or new forms of science”—or broadly, new or different or particular ideas—that create th is discord or harmony (108). Marchesani’s queer readings of science fiction acknowledge the importance of the genre’s tendency toward cognitive estrangeme nt for gender theory and progressive social praxis. But as the literature of cognitive es trangement, SF is also important for ecology because readers understand the unfamiliar spaces a nd ideas it presents as in fact mirroring and commenting critically on their historical moment in addition to seeing or foreseeing an extrapolated future based either on the evidence of this moment or on its speculated alternative. As analyzed in this study, Le Guin’s The Word for World is Forest considers capital’s insatiable desire for resources; Ca llenbach’s and Piercy’s ecotopian novels and Brunner’s dystopian novels deal with the mode rn world’s ecological future given either the continuance of certain trends or the movement of modern culture in a more sustainable direction; John Christopher’s No Blade of Grass (1956) glances at the chemical manipulation of nature so prevalent then and now. In every case, the glance is cognitive, never seeing the presents or futures they speculate on as fixed or inevitable, but as possible given the mutability of human cognition and behavior. Finally, if science fiction’ s spaces, extrapolations, and cognitive estrangements are ecologically revolutionary, they are so becau se, as Jameson has recently noted, SF is totalizing. In Archaeologies of the Future Jameson sets out to rec uperate the concept of totality from its stigmatization in postmodern theory. A “combination of closure and system, in the name of autonomy and self-su fficiency and which is ultimately the source of that otherness or radical, even alien, difference,” totality admits more than an “enclave”—Jameson’s term, too—of revolutio nary hope (5). Rather, its utopian

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19 realization is, as Jameson schol ar Phillip E. Wegner argues, the “transformation of the world, or totality, that alrea dy exists” (“Here”). With their reclamations of totality, Jameson and Wegner are indeed responding to our current historical moment, that of total world dominance by capital and, post-September 11th, by the “Bush Doctrine of unilateralism and preemptive military violence” (“Here”). The nature of this dominance requires a return to the concept of totality in theoretical discourse, an invigoration of “The Desire Called Utopia” (Jameson’s subt itle) that would “produce another world altogether,” as science fi ction hopes to do (“Here”). The all-out production of other worlds, of other totalities, is indeed SF’s most subversive act. How scandalous it is to imagine autonomous and self-sufficient systems that are explicitly not the structure in place—that, for example, do not represent a political economy of “capitalist common sense, ” which perpetuates at every moment and in every space the myth “that the market as the location of capitalist productivity is the only game in town” (Watkins 20).5 Such imagining is also the critical work of environmentalism, particularly of the ecologi cal philosophies examined below: Paul B. Sears’ “subversive science,” deep ecology, eco feminism, and ecosocialism. Each one of these radical ecological movements engages a di scourse that is always and fundamentally attentive to ecology, to “a whole defined by internal relations ” (Kovel 17) that is Jameson’s “closure and system,” and thus to to tal change rather than a piecemeal change amenable to capitalist totality. The ecosoc ialist and former US Green Party senate and 5 Not all of the science fiction texts considered in this study envision new totalities against the hegemony. However, those that do not demonstrate the utopian impulse of socio-political SF— Last and First Men “Twilight,” Stand on Zanzibar The Sheep Look Up The Space Merchants and The Word for World is Forest —do indeed display a related dystopian impulse, which in presenting an ecodestructive hegemony implicitly call for such envisionings, even if some of these texts holler this call from utopian enclaves (Brunner’s “wats” or Pohl and Kornbluth’s “Consie” underground).

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20 presidential candidate Jo el Kovel contributes much to this point: “capital is a whole way of being, and not merely a set of institutions. It is therefore this wa y of being that has to be radically transformed if th e ecological crisis is to be overcome” (9). Green revolution calls for nothing less than wholesale change the realization of an indeed utopian ecological conscience, or “the tr ansition from one totality to a nother” that is, to be sure, the definition of revolution itself (Wegner, “Jameson’s”).6 Conclusion It is important to note that one of the most revolutionary works of environmentalism, Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring (1962), turns to science fiction to set the stage for its groundbreaking investigation into the pesticide industry. The book’s first chapter, “A Fable for Tomorrow,” pictures a bleak, sterile future of Anytown, USA resulting from the indiscriminate use of chemi cals in the country’s fight against insects. Beginning her chapter with “There was once a to wn in the heart of America where all life seemed to live in harmony with its surroundings ,” Carson’s attention to space and literary estrangement is obvious; she hands readers an empirical moment that if they do not really know as their present, then they do at leas t understand to be a present that does or did exist somewhere or at some historical point (1). Carson continues the estrangement by introducing the unfamiliar, in this case “a strange blight,” “Some evil spell” that stills the life of the town, killing everything in its path (2 ). But the apocalyptic blight of the future is not the inescapable final battleground, and the evil spe ll is not the treachery of mythological imps, both narrative situations that would discourage the cognitive glance 6 I play with the term “green revolution” to recontextualize it within an ecologically conscious totality that would oppose what it originally signifies—the US chemical industry’s global “market expansion program”—and give it the critical meaning it deserves (Khor 50).

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21 that buttresses science fiction’s cultural and ecological work. Instead, in Carson’s imagined future, as in most science ficti on, that which threatens humanity and the whole of the Earth’s ecology is huma nity itself. “No witchcraft, no enemy action had silenced the rebirth of new life in this stricken wo rld,” Carson writes. “The people had done it themselves” (3). Science fiction’s success as the literatur e of the ecological conscience comes not simply from scare tactics, from being a lite rature of “apocalyptic ecologism,” as R. J. Ellis deems it. Ellis finds in Silent Spring ’s opening chapter—which he agrees is dystopian SF, though not particularly effec tive—the proposition of “imminent disaster and a dystopic future if no action is forthcomi ng” (115). Too entrench ed in a historical rhetoric of “‘the ravages of the axe,’” Ellis argues, this apocalyptic ecologism fails “to articulate comprehensibly a political programme for such action” (115). Ellis extends the analysis to Herbert’s Dune claiming in the end, and almost derogatorily, that “extensive discursive engagement with ecological issues in fiction are characte ristically encountered not in realist writing, but in the imagined futu res of the science fiction genre” (121). For Ellis, SF simply provides the narrative space for a politically unproductive environmentalism. But Ellis errs when he deems Carson’s and Herbert’s science fictions as apocalyptic rather than extrapolative and cogni tively estranging presentations of plausible spaces. Framing ecological SF as apocalyptic only condemns it to being politically weak and unable to take on the curren t totality by virtue of its pa rticipation again and again and again in the same redundancies of environmen talist soothsayers: If humanity does not change its ways, tragedy will occur. Indee d, there is a whole subgenre of apocalyptic

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22 science fiction; but the challe nges of the modern world’s ecological future demands new readings that understand SF not as a literature to promote green revolution through fear but through deeper understandings of the natural world, of humanity’s essential connectedness to the natural world, of the philosophies, spiritualities, and social movements that embrace the ecological cons cience, and of systems and actions that jeopardize the future of ecology. Such is the focus of the following chapters.

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23 CHAPTER 3 THE SUBVERSIVE SU BJECT OF ECOLOGY This chapter begins the close readings of science fiction that comprise the majority of this study. Later chapte rs explore the parallels betw een more contemporary SF and specific trends in modern eco critical thought, but this chapte r examines several works of early science fiction that engaged in ecological critique before the full-scale emergence and diversification of environmentali sm in the years following the 1960s.1 Science fiction narratives such as Olaf Stapledon’s Last and First Men (1931), John W. Campbell’s “Twilight” (1934), and especially George R. Stewart’s Earth Abides (1949) and Frank Herbert’s Dune (1965) are not only foundational pieces in science fiction but also key works in the broader evolution of modern culture’s critical awareness of the effects of human ideas and pr actices on ecological systems. In “Ecology—A Subversive Subject” the eco logist Paul B. Sears asks, “Is ecology a phase of science of limited interest and utility ? Or, if taken seriously as an instrument for the long-run welfare of mankind, would it endanger the assumptions and practices accepted by modern societies, whatever thei r doctrinal commitments?” (11). Responding to the question, Sears concl udes that ecology does jeopardiz e modern assumptions and practices. Whereas findings in other sciences can and often do remain unseen by the general public, ecological findings “must beco me a matter of wide public understanding 1 Most scholars agree that while environmentalism has roots in various philosophies and movements predating Rachel Carson’s 1962 text Silent Spring as well as the first Earth Day in 1970, the institutionalization of modern environmentalism in the United States occurred in the late 1960s and early 1970s. See Sale, and Dunlap and Mertig.

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24 to be effective” (12). Sears believes th at ecology’s “continui ng critique of man’s operations within the ecosystem” is important on a broad scale, “as an instrument for the long-run welfare of mankind” (12). Per ceiving ecological interc onnections challenges modern, ecologically unsustaina ble lifeways. To be ecologi cally literate is to question the profit motive of free-market economics, to doubt the viability of monoculture agriculture—essentially, to que stion many of mode rn society’s founda tional values and methods, as Sears does in his postscript.2 Academically, the science of ecology subverts disciplinary compartmentalization. Traditional academic efforts “to intensify teachi ng of the individual sciences [rather] than to integrate them” deny scholars the “unifyi ng philosophical point of view” that ecology offers (12). And while the study of ecology shifts the academic convention of disciplinary specializatio n to more interdisciplinary bread th and an avant-garde pedagogy of integration, it also undermines the mind/ matter dualism so fundamental to modern scientific study. Referencing F. Fraser Darl ing, Sears notes, “ecology [. .] is a study of the entire ecosystem. Of this system, ma n is not just an observer and irresponsible exploiter but an integral part, now the world’ s dominant organism” (12). Speaking with a Leopoldian ecological conscience, Sears here insists that humans ar e always a part of ecological systems, not apart from them, a nd that the modern academy must take note. Expanding on Sears in his seminal essay “Ecology and Man—A Viewpoint,” the ecologist Paul Shepard writes, “The ideological status of ecology is that of a resistance 2 Such questions include, “What conclusion would you draw if you observed a population curve, similar to that of man, in any other organism?” “What are the effects upon the ecosy stem where profit to the developer is the sole check upon urban expansion?” and “What is known of the long-range effects of monoculture and heavy machinery upon fertile agricultural land?” (13).

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25 movement. Its Rachel Carsons and Aldo Le opolds are subversive (as Sears recently called ecology itself)” (9). Shepard deta ils a range of ecocritical concerns: [The Carsons and Leopolds] challenge the public or private right to pollute the environment, to systematically destroy predatory animals, to spread chemical pesticides indiscriminately, to meddle chemically with food and water, to appropriate without hindrance space and surface for technological and military ends; they oppose the uni nhibited growth of human populations, some forms of “aid” to “underdeveloped” peoples, the n eedless addition of radioactivity to the landscape, the extinction of species of plan ts and animals, the domestication of all wild places, large-scale mani pulation of the atmosphere or the sea, and most other purely engineering solutions to problems of and intrusions into the organic world. (9) Ecology enables this compendium of di sputes, highlighting for example the importance of all species within an ecosys tem, or the facts that—as Barry Commoner suggests—everything is connect ed to everything else, ever ything must go somewhere, nature knows best, and there is no su ch thing as a free lunch (33-48). Aldo Leopold’s resistance to well-establishe d values was reviewed in the previous chapter, but as A.L. Herman reminds us, Le opold’s most developed ec ological stance was a subversion of the utilitarian principles th at the science of ecology was adopting as the nineteenth century turned into the twentieth. Leopold began his fore stry career in the first decade of the twentieth century as an ecosystemist, one who views “the whole of nature as an ecosystem composed of physical, isolatable, mechanical parts, all reducible to talk about atoms, energy, and economics expressed as quantifia ble and measurable units” (Herman 47-48). Such a model of ecolo gical thinking differs greatly from the radical models discussed throughout this st udy, and from the model Leopold would later embrace, but it is a legitima te model with which subvers ive ecology has traditionally

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26 competed.3 It was an act of the ecosystemis t, game-managing Leopold—the spiritual incident with the dying wolf—that transforme d him from an ecologi cal manager to what Herman calls an “ecoholist” and invigorated in his conscience the ecological worldviews of Thoreau, John Muir, and othe r foundational voices (56). In fact, Donald Worster sees Leopold’s land ethic as “the si ngle most concise expression of the new environmental philosophy,” “a biocentric, communitarian ethi c that challenged the dominant economic attitude toward land use” (284). While Leopold’s A Sand County Almanac marked the bolstering of an ecological worldview that worked more to halt modern hum anity’s intrusions into wilderness than to make those intrusions more seamless, the subversive stance of Carson’s Silent Spring stimulated the critical developments that since 1962 have collectively been deemed the environmental movement. In his in troduction to a curr ent edition of Silent Spring Al Gore develops a useful framework for discus sing Carson’s study of the pesticide industry as broadly subversive ecology, noting the ways the book worked “against the grain” of several well-established ort hodoxies (xvi). First, Gore writes, “both the book and its author [. .] met with considerable resi stance from those who were profiting from pollution” (xv). As a text that called for tough regulations on the pesticide industry and for eliminating several of th at industry’s staple products, Silent Spring dealt a controversial blow to the bar ons of industry and to the anti -regulatory atmosphere they were creating. 3 In perhaps the most well-documented case of th e competition between the ecosystemist point-of-view and the point-of-view of a more critical, conscientious ecology, in 1913 Woodrow Wilson approved the damming of Hetch Hetchy Valley in the Sierra Nevada Mountains, the culmination of a long battle between Gifford Pinchot and other advocates of the utilitarian, managerial ecology that informed the reservoir plan and John Muir, a fervent defender of the spiritual and aesthetic value of the Hetch Hetchy wilderness.

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27 Second, Gore notes that much of the pr opaganda produced to discredit Carson and her work “played on stereotypes of her sex”: she was “hysterical” and used “emotionfanning words” (xvi). Given the cultural climate of a United States only recently emerged from the patriarchal 1950s and still a few years from the feminist fervor of the late 1960s, Carson had to write against a soci al paradigm that considered female thought, especially in the male-dominated sciences, as inferior. Third, Carson “was also writing against the grain of an orthodoxy rooted in the earliest days of the scientific revolution: that man (and of course this meant the male of our species) was properly the cen ter and the master of all things, and that scientific history was primarily the story of his domini on” (Gore xvi-xvii). As with many previous figures in subversive ecology, Ca rson did not accept a worldv iew that promoted a strict hierarchy of humans over other species. In fact, as Rachel Carson scholar Mary A. McCay notes, Carson’s 1951 book The Sea Around Us directly challenges hierarchical and anthropocentric conceptions of the pl ace of humans and nonhumans in the world, promoting “a religious reverence for the sea” and asserting that “The life of the sea controls the life of the la nd and thus human life” (“Cars on”). Carson’s ecocentric assertions in Silent Spring and in her other works undermin ed the Enlightenment will-todominate, and though Gore does not admit it—pe rhaps because of his position as a public figure in a heavily Christianized America—Carson’s texts implicitly challenged claims of human dominion common among most devotees of Abrahamic religion. Ultimately, the holistic logic of ecology oppos es the narrow logic of the modern world: against human-centered dogma, ecol ogy recognizes the necessity of all plants, animals, and natural processes; against indus trialist assertions to the contrary, ecology

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28 recognizes the hazards of agricultural chemi cals; against the capita list lust for economic growth, ecology recognizes the limits of the systems needed to sustain such growth; against the pressures of suburban development, ecology recognizes th e intrinsic value of wild spaces. Indeed, ecology is subversive b ecause it finds the principles of the modern world to be incompatible with the ground ru les of biospherical life, and it seeks to overturn those principles a nd their related practices. Subversive Ecology in Early Science Fi ction: Some Considerations The alien pod people of Jack Finney’s Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1954) justify their creeping attack on the huma n race using humanity’s own history of ecological domination: “what has the human race done except spread over this planet till it swarms the globe several billion strong? What have you done with this very continent but expand till you fill it? And where are the buffalo who roamed this land before you? Gone. Where is the passenger pigeon, which literally darkened the skies of America in flocks of billions? The last one died in a Philadelphia zoo in 1913. Doctor, the function of life is to live if it can, and no other motive can ever be allowed to interfere with that. Ther e is no malice involved; did you hate the buffalo? We must continue because we mus t; can’t you understand that ? [. .] It’s the nature of the beast.” (185) Here, Bernard Budlong of the alien race reasons to Doctor Miles Bennell, the narrator of the novel, that th e spread of his extraterrest rial species on the Earth only parallels the historical tende ncies of modern, exploitive humanity. Certainly, Budlong’s reasoning is tautological—“‘We must continue because we must’”—but so is much of the logic that guides the ideas and practices that threaten ecological systems. As Sears and Shepard maintain, subversive ecology questions many of the logics of modern society, such as capitalism and anthropocentrism. Thes e logics perpetuate th emselves using their own inside reasoning to circumvent any thre atening interrogations, but they do not stand up to the critical probing of ecology. In a way, Budlong’s reasoning is a version of

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29 ecocritical probing, a rhetorical tactic—available to Finney as a writer of speculative narrative—to provoke the type of critical questioning-of-the -unquestionable that ecology performs. It is a move that asks readers to think about their own resemblance to a selfinterested, colonizing speci es, and to ascertain from this thought a sort of environmentalist version of Pogo’s “We have met the enemy, and he is us.” Broadly speaking, the enemy of nature in Finney’s novel and in another midcentury work of science fiction, John Christopher’s No Blade of Grass (1956)—indeed, in all of the environmentalis t SF analyzed in this study—i s ecological illiteracy, the absence of ecological knowledge and of an eco logical conscience in modern worldviews. Prescient of Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring Christopher’s novel highlights the limits of a science uninformed about the dynamics of ecol ogical systems. With rice crops in China threatened by a virus, authorities in No Blade of Grass forego developing sustainable means to control the virus and instead rush into action a chemical to kill it. This chemical, however, strengthens a particular pha se of the virus that not only attacks rice but also devastates all grasses—wheat, oats, barley, and rye included. Four of its phases keep its ruinous fifth phase inactive; but the chemical, called Isotope 717, effectively eradicates those four phases, leaving the worst to thrive. The lack of foresight, of ecological literacy, on the part of the inventors and user s of Isotope 717 sets up the conflict that drives Christopher’s narrat ive—a frightening story of hunger, human displacement, and the resulting violence. I reference these two novels briefly as instances of the idea, discussed in my first chapter, that the genre of science fict ion has within it ecocritical tendencies.4 What 4 In addition to Invasion of the Body Snatchers No Blade of Grass Last and First Men “Twilight ,” Earth Abides and Dune —the latter four being texts I discuss below—other examples of early environmentalist

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30 follows are more extensive readings of early SF stories intended to demonstrate the ecological illiteracies that the ge nre perceives in modern cultur e. These elucidations span a range of criticisms and ideas including Stapledon’s questio ning of religion and science, Campbell’s speculations on the e nd of nature as the end of humanity, Stewart’s argument for humanity’s essential animality, and Herber t’s critique of a political power structure too dependent on subduing ecologi cally sustainable cultures. Last and First Men A future history, Olaf Stapledon’s Last and First Men is narrated by one of the Last Men, a member of a civilization existing two bi llion years in the future. This narrator traces the rise and fall of each evolutiona ry stage of humanity, from the First Men— “[our] epoch of history”—through the telepa thic Fifth Men and the Ninth Men of Neptune, and ultimately to the Eighteenth Men, doomed to be the Last Men when a nearby star threatens to destroy their planet (17). In his fore word to the American edition of Last and First Men Stapledon outlines the motivation behind his novel: Man seems to be entering one of the major crises of his career. His whole future, nay the possibility of his having any future at all, depends on the turn which events may take in the next half-century. It is a commonplace that he is coming into possession of new and dangerous instrume nts for controlling his environment and his own nature. [. .] Nothing can sa ve him but a new vision, and a consequent new order of sanity, or common sense. (3) SF include Karel Capek’s War With the Newts (1936) and J.G. Ballard’s The Drowned World (1962). In The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction Brian Stableford’s entry on ecology lists several other titles as early ecological science fiction, including J.D. Beresfor d’s “The Man who Hated Flies” (1929), William Tenn’s “The Ionian Cycle” (1948), Clifford Simak’s “You’ll Never Go Home Again” (1951), and Brian Aldiss’s PEST series (1958-1962) (365). Also, Stableford’s “Science Fiction and Ecology” in David Seed’s A Companion to Science Fiction comprehensively explores ecological themes in SF’s history. Admittedly, I am limiting my scope, largely as a result of my focus on the ecological conscience.

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31 Stapledon’s science fictional project shares with subversive ecology both the understanding that modern humanity has moved in hazardous directions and the desire to find new modes of being that will mitigate th e damage humans have brought about and that will reduce future human impact, assuri ng Sears’ “long-run welfare of mankind.” The most compelling expressi ons of subversive ecology in Last and First Men are in its future history of the fall of the First Me n, the speculative fall of our civilization. In this history, Stapledon effectiv ely challenges ideological hi erarchies that declare human biological and intellectual supremacy over the na tural world. The civilization of the First Men begins its collapse as a result of th e exhaustion of coal brought about by “the extravagances of their culture,” the main ex travagance being a religi ous devotion to coalintensive flying machines in the global World State (71). As the narrator notes, “The sane policy would have been to abolish the huge expense of power on ritual flying, which used more of the community’s resources th an the whole of produc tive industry” (70). But the First Men are unwilling to question th eir “deeply rooted” ri tuals, despite the raggedness and starvation affecting people worl dwide (71). When those in authority do suggest a reduction in ritual flying, war breaks out and the lingering population is left to “scrape a living from the soil” in wh atever fertile land is left (73). Later in the chronicle of the First Me n’s fall, a new Patagonian civilization modernizes in a direction just as unsustainable. Had th ey sacrificed developing an energy-intensive luxury culture like that of the recently decimated World State and instead pursued wind and water power, which th e narrator of Staple don’s history admits they could have done, the Patagonians “might well have achieved something like Utopia” (86). But trusting their “superi or sanity,” this civilization opts to acquire atomic power

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32 (86). Even with the possibilities of using su ch a “limitless source of energy” in relatively harmless ways, the Patagonians use it as an extractive tool for mining materials previously exhausted by earlier cultures and as a weapon fo r policing the working class (89). Proletariat anger leads to the seizing of a “power un it” and ultimately to global atomic destruction (89). In blaming the devastation on working-cl ass “mischief-makers,” Stapledon is no Marxist; however, his ecological conscience remains relatively sturdy (89). When the World State crashes, its few su rvivors struggle on with di sease while nature takes hold and “the jungle [comes] back into its own” ( 73). Similarly, after th e Patagonians’ atomic ruin, the natural world rec overs, though many species of mammals become extinct: [. .] vegetation had soon revived, from r oots and seeds, buried or wind-borne. The countryside was now green with those pl ants that had been able to adjust themselves to the new climate. Animals had suffered far more seriously. Save for the Arctic fox, a few small rodents, and one herd of reindeer, none were left but the dwellers in the actual Arctic seas, the Polar bear, various cetaceans, and seals. Of fish there were plenty. Birds in great numbers had crowded out of the south, and had died off in thousands through lack of food, but certain sp ecies were already adjusting themselves to the new environment. (92) This passage and its surrounding contexts serve several criti cal purposes, all of which revolve around the novel’s cr itique of human-centeredness. First, because much of the nonhuman biological life reemerges in a ha rsh, post-holocaust envi ronment, this life is bestowed with a number of positive, value-laden terminol ogies: it is persistent and determined to carry on, it is healthy and st rong, it “forge[s] ahead” despite obstacles, and it readjusts itself to shifting circumstances (92). Second, desp ite nature’s pe rsistence and health, many of its component species do die ou t; but more than just signifying weakness in these species, these deaths indicate the scope of violence done to the enduring natural world by humans. Finally, the global environmen tal change to which other species adjust

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33 is one that humans cannot tolerate, even though they caused it: “the atmosphere had become seriously impure, and the human or ganism had not yet succeeded in adapting itself” (92). Unlike the natural world, humans are feeble and irreso lute, unwell and weak, and unable to make necessary changes for basic survival. With the situations of the World State and Patagonia, Stapledon challenges the culturally ingrained myth of th e centrality of the human in th e world. He participates in ecology’s “continuing critique of man’s operations within the ecosystem,” as Sears puts it, by dismantling the idea that because of human biological and intellectual supremacy the interests of humankind are separate from and of greater importance than the welfare of flora, fauna, and ecological systems. Stapledon’s attention to humanity’s physical limitations renders erroneous the anthropocen tric worldview, at least in terms of biological fitness. Humans are weak and na ture is strong. But other species besides humans die out in the Patagonian disaster of Last and First Men Does this mean they are weak, too? Or is Stapledon perhaps arguing so mething more critical, more subversive? Viewed ecocritically, th e species extinctions following th e Patagonian incident not only suggest the misfortunes of ill-advised human pr ojects but also imply a biological equality between humans and so-called weaker species. Like the extinct species, the “human organism” cannot adjust to dr astic ecological cha nge. Thus, humans are no higher on a biological ladder than the species they subordinate. That the First Men continue to operate thei r civilizations based on ways of life that are historically proven to set in motion social and ecological collapse attests also to their intellectual frailty. The Worl d State unlocked the secrets of flight and the Patagonian civilization unlocked the s ecrets of the atom; but de spite these intellectual

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34 accomplishments, neither civilization managed it self in a sustainable manner. Each, in fact, ended violently. What Last and First Men seems to argue, then, parallels the implicit critical argument that ecologists like Leopold and Carson stressed and that ecological thinkers continue to stress t oday: modern humanity must rethink the ideologies that guide its tr ajectories. Stapledon’s account of the First Men challenges blinding religious dogma (the World State’s devotion to resource-in tensive flight) and undisciplined scientific progress (the Pata gonian’s atomic energy initiative), marking them as fallible human achievements. Last and First Men does not overtly call for a culture of ecological literacy and conscience; however, its contemplation of future histories that emerge from unquestioned ideolo gies and practices aligns the book strongly with the subversive, critical motives of ecological thinking. “Twilight” As Last and First Men suggests, the reluctance of m odern humans to adjust their religious and scientific convictions to bette r accommodate their status as a biological species living within an ecological web has serious consequences for humanity and for the biosphere as a whole. This reluctance emerges out of the mythology that humans are biologically and intellect ually superior to animals and t hus have the capacity to live against the pressures of the natural world, a mythology Stapledon challenges. John W. Campbell’s “Twilight” offers another future history in which such a mythology has led humanity to adapt the natural world to human initiative—to sterilize it, to neutralize it, and to erase its tendencies—ultimately resulting in the loss of humanity itself. A Science Fiction Hall of Fame story published in 1934, “Twilight” narrates the experiences of a time traveler named Ares Sen Kenlin who has seen a distant future where millions of years of technological pr ogress have culminated in a world so

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35 mechanized that humans are intellectually dyi ng. As the hero of a story in a Golden Age SF genre which is generally technocentric, Kenlin responds to humanity’s resulting intellectual blight by programming a machine to build a “curious machine” that will replace human intellect, just as other machines in the future world have replaced human labor (76). Brooks Landon sees in this plot a faith that in the future machines will continue “the upward spiral of progress” when humans can no longer do so (23). Similarly, John Huntington sees the story’s tech nological optimism: despite the fact that technology has caused the future decline of the human race, Huntington notes, “Campbell’s story never questions its faith in technology” (161). Both Landon and Huntington read Campbell’s ta le through the lens of tec hnological optimism that most works of Golden Age science fiction encour age. Interpreted th is way, “Twilight” does celebrate the machines that will persevere long after humans are extinct, machines whose continuing existence ultimately attests to the triumph of the human intellect that created the machines in the first place. However, an ecocritical analysis of Campbe ll’s story looks not at its technological optimism but at the reasons future humans are in their twilight. Read this way, “Twilight” no longer champions humanity’s technologica l efforts but rather reflects on the role of modern culture’s mythological fait h in human supremacy in the ultimate death of the species. In The End of Nature Bill McKibben argues that “we live in a postnatural world,” a world once governed by wild processes to which humans—indeed, all species— adjusted but that humans now adjust to their demands (60). “Twilight” is a story of such a world. “[A]s man strode toward maturity,” Kenlin recalls of the future world, “he

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36 destroyed all forms of life that menaced him. Disease. Insects. Then the last of the insects, and finally the last of the man-eating animals” (67). This initial destruction of so-called menace species instigates a neverend ing trend of further destructions: “The balance of nature was destroyed then, so they had to go on. [. .] They started destroying life—and now it wouldn’t stop. So they had to destroy weeds of all sorts. Then many formerly harmless plants. Then the herbivor a, too, the deer and the antelope and the rabbit and the horse. They were a menace, they attacked man’s machine-tended crops” (67-68). And in its final acts of securing the illusory comfort of the postnatural, humanity “killed off the denizens of the sea [. .] in self-defense” and by purifying the ocean of its microscopic life initiated the death of the sea (68). Beyond being a story about humanity s ubjugating the wild and creating a postnatural world, “Twilight” is also about the effect that this end of nature has on the human species. The end of nature for McKi bben is tantamount to the beginning, rise, and dominance of physical and ideological te chnologies that permit humanity, however falsely, to evade its responsibilities as members of the biosphere. So if it is mechanized society that has prompted the twilight of the human race in Campbell’s story, then humanity’s death is likewise the effect of the loss of the nonhuman world permitted by this mechanization. This concept is noth ing less than what has since become a key philosophical underpinning of deep ecology, eco feminism, and other critical ecological worldviews: the vitality of the human self, indeed of huma nity’s collective self, is a function of the vitality of the biospherical whole. An influential voice in much contemporary environmentali st thought, Edward Abbey speaks to this point in Desert Solitaire : “If industrial man continues to [. .] expand his operations he will succeed in

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37 his apparent intention, to seal himself off from the natural and isolate himself within a synthetic prison of his own making. He will make himself an exile from the earth and then will know at last, if he is still capable of feeling anyt hing, the pain and agony of final loss” (211). Long before McKibben and Abbey, though, Campbell makes this ecologically conscious argument in his narrativ e. In “Twilight,” Kenlin says of the future, “The human race was growing ster ile [. .] Their loneliness was beyond hope” (67). Certainly, sterility and loneliness do not have to result from the end of nature, but in the story they do. Kenlin s uggests the direct connection: “ For, you see as man strode toward maturity, he destroyed all forms of lif e that menaced him” (emphasis added) (67). The account of the extermination of nonhuman species and purification of the sea is connected to humanity’s lone liness and sterility as a cau se-and-effect relationship. While Campbell associates th e death of the human race with anthropogenic, or human-caused, deterioration of ecological systems, his attentions go further. In particular, the author seems to know ecology, to know that the world is in a constant state of change; and with this knowledge he make s a claim similar to Stapledon’s charge against human intellectual progress. Kenlin states, “When Earth is cold, and the Sun has died out, those machines will go on. When Earth begins to crack and break; those perfect, ceaseless machines will try to repair her—” (55). Like the story itself, this passage invites differing interpretations. Kenlin may well be cel ebrating the “ceaseless machines,” but such an interpretation does not explain the ecocritical stance of the text— particularly the relationship between ecol ogical decline and hu man extinction that “Twilight” acknowledges. Instead, this passa ge shows the culmination of the modern vision to impose a particular order on a natura l world that is constantly changing and thus

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38 inherently resists such order. The human r ace is in its twilight because it moved toward constructing a simplified, sanitized, and mechanic al order rather than toward developing an understanding of natural complexity and the necessity to adapt to natural change. Finally, contrary to Huntington’s claim th at “Campbell’s story never questions its faith in technology,” “Twilight” does displa y an uncertainty toward technology, an uncertainty that emerges when Kenlin reflects on the contrast between machines and nature. He states, “Seven or even seventy million years don’t mean much to old Mother Earth. She may even succeed in wearing down those marvelous machine cities. She can wait a hundred million or a thousand million years before she is beaten” (59). At least, this passage injects ambiguity into Campbell’s story: Does “Twilight” pay tribute to human technological triumph, or mock this triumph as fu tile when compared to the magnitude of “old Mother Earth”? At mo st, this passage disables the claim that Campbell’s story is a celebration of the m echanized world that human ingenuity has allowed. In it, Kenlin observes the perman ence of Mother Earth against fleeting human initiative, the initiativ e to mechanize that, in ending na ture, has brought about humanity’s twilight. Earth Abides George R. Stewart’s ecological focus in his novel Earth Abides has prompted the horror writer Stephen King to call the s econd half of the novel “an uphill push—too much ecology, not enough story” (398). John Caldwell has noticed something similar, though not as a fault: “The relationship of me n to the land—i.e., the effect of the land upon the people that live on it—is the theme of much of [Stewart’s] writing” (5). Earth Abides is a post-apocalyptic tale set into mo tion when “a kind of super-measles” wipes out a majority of the world’s human populati on (13). This event triggers the ensuing

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39 narrative, but although the spread of the virus is “aided by airplane travel,” Stewart’s novel is not a warning against transcontinental flight (13). Instead, the calamity in Earth Abides allows Stewart to expl ore ecological dynamics. Stewart’s main character is Isherwood Willia ms, a survivor of the virus and former graduate student whose thesis, “ The Ecology of the Black Creek Area ,” explores “the relationships, past and present, of men and plants and animals” in a region near San Francisco (4-5). For a stude nt of ecology, a world without humans as the dominant species provides an interesting opportunity for research, and Stewart’s omniscient narrator realizes this: Even though the curtain had been rung down on man, here was the opening of the greatest of all dramas for a student such as he. During thousands of years man had impressed himself upon the world. Now man was gone, certainly for a while, perhaps forever. Even if some survivors were left, they would be a long time in again obtaining supremacy. What would ha ppen to the world and its creatures? That he was left to see! (24-25) While Earth Abides is also about Ish’s project to survive his existential dilemma and, as critic David G. Byrd notes, “to keep the light of civilizati on burning,” Stewart’s ecological literacy furnishes th e book with its subversive, ecocr itical perspective (par. 5). This perspective emerges as the novel promotes the realization, also present to a lesser degree in Last and First Men and “Twilight,” that humans and animals are subject to the same biological laws and that in their most sustainable state huma ns do not live outside of natural dictates. And similar to Last and First Men Earth Abides prefigures recent radical environmentalist positions by staging the regeneration of the nonhuman world as dependent upon a reduction in human population. A central idea of Paul Shep ard and Daniel McKinley’s The Subversive Science is that humans are animals and understanding this is a first step in reversing modern, anti-

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40 ecological trends. For example, Charles F. Hockett and Robert As cher’s essay in the volume asserts not only that humans are descen dents of apes but th at we evolved from the weakest apes who could not compete in th e trees with “the more powerful” (24). “Our own ancestors,” they wr ite, “were the failures. We did not abandon the trees because we wanted to, but because we were pushed out” (24). The authors deny humans intellectual agency in our own biological development and instead credit competitive biology—the course toward spec ies differentiation in all anim als—for that development. In a case of “Nature knows best,” which “co ntradict[s] a deeply held idea about the unique competence of human beings,” Hockett and Ascher’s claim recognizes Darwinian ecological dynamics—not something unique to humans, but the dynamics that apply to all life—for enabling hu man life (Commoner 41). Paul L. Errington’s entry in The Subversive Science also helps set up a context for reading Stewart’s ecological literacy in Earth Abides In “Of Man and the Lower Animals,” Errington argues the pedagogical value of understanding animal populations for humanity’s continued survival. Arguing against any notion that humans are “exempt from natural laws or well on the way towa rd becoming so,” he notes, “If twentiethcentury society really values the things th at it proclaims essential—peace, human dignity, intellectual activity, a reasonable degree of freedom and security, and a reasonable standard of living—it cannot afford to ignore the natural laws by which life continues to be bound” (180). Like many of the essays in Shepard and McKinley’s book, Errington’s focuses on overpopulation, specifically high lighting the trend of bobwhite quail and muskrats to develop “social evils” as thei r populations skyrocket (188). For Errington,

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41 these animal communities are not simply metaphors for human communities. Instead, they provide us with a mirror image of the dynamics of our human society. In Earth Abides speculating on the fate of human ity given the biological law “ that the number of individuals in a species never remains constant, but always rises and falls ,” Stewart’s narrat or concludes, there is little reason to think that [man] c an in the long run escape the fate of other creatures, and if there is a biological law of flux and reflu x, his situation is now a highly perilous one. During ten thou sand years his numbers have been on the upgrade in spite of wars, pestilences, and fa mines. This increase in population has become more and more rapid. Biologic ally, man has for t oo long a time been rolling an uninterrupted run of sevens. (8) Here, Stewart anticipates Hockett, Ascher, and Errington by connecting “ man ” to “ other creatures ” and by drawing on this connecti on to make a point about human population dynamics. With the connection between animals and humans made early in the narrative, throughout the novel Stewart continues to draw such informative parallels, making the point a central argument of his book. He refe rences Captain Maclear’s rat of Christmas Island, a species whose universa l susceptibility to disease developed as a result of the ease with which it lived and its high populat ion. When disease came to the island, the rats became extinct. In parallel, Stewart’ s narrative of Ish’s emerging Californian community is largely an exploration of the ease with which humans lived prior to the super-measles outbreak and the difficulty the survivors have adjusting to life without electricity, plumbing, and the like. The comm unity’s disconnection from their essential animality, in fact, manifests itself when la ter one character asks, “‘Where did all this water come from anyway?’” about the Sa n Francisco water supply, prompting the narrator to reflect,

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42 It was curious. Here they had been for twenty-one years merely using water that continued to flow, and yet they had never given any real consideration to where the water came from. It had been a gift from the past, as free as air, like the cans of beans and bottles of catsup that could be had just by walking into a store and taking them from the shelves. (171) For Stewart, modern convenience has inst igated a kind of ps ychosocial end of nature, to borrow again from McKibben, wh ere the faucet and grocery store have cancelled out the imperative to know the biosphere, to be ecologically literate. Stewart works to reestablish this imperati ve, though, as he con tinues to challenge the idea that humans exist above the animal world. Ish theorizes w hy ants have nearly disappeared in the desolate San Francisco area after a brief population boom: “When any creature reached such climactic numbers and attained such high concentration, a nemesis was likely to fall upon it. Possibly the ants had exhausted the supplies of food which had led to this tremendous increas e of numbers. More likely, some disease had fallen upon them, and wiped them out” (88). And to ma ke the correspondence between animals and humans more obvious for readers, Stewar t has Ish say, “‘When anything gets too numerous it’s likely to get hit by some pl ague,’” and adds “(Something had suddenly exploded in [Ish’s] mind at the word.) He coughed to cover up his hesitation, and then went on, without making a point of it. ‘Yes, so me plague is likely to hit them’” (114). Ish’s hesitation is his, and the reader’s, moment of insight: as the ants became extinct, so did the humans—nearly. Stewart’s apocalyptic fear for humanity’s fate seems less a Malthusian fear of the inability to reconcile geometric growth ra tes in population with much smaller linear growth rates in food supply and more a fear of what disease might do to an overpopulated, unprepared human society. What is most important and subversive about his thinking is that it realizes that humans are subject to th e same determining influences

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43 that direct all life and that breaking the rules of these influences leads to fates similar to those of the rats or the ants. Ecological l iteracy would indeed deflect humans from these fates, as Stewart ultimately argues as his book provides an after-the-f act analysis of the errors humans made while populous. The comfor ts we enjoy as modern humans weaken us as a species, and the high populations we ge nerate for ideological, social, or economic purposes threaten catastrophe. As Errington would argue thirteen years after Stewart implicitly argued in his fiction, humans “coul d learn from consideration of the basic biology and sociology of animal populations,” deconstructing the artif icial human/nature binary and learning from other species how to live in ways that are not so threatening to the ecological interactio ns of which we are a part (180). If humans are animals, subject to the sa me laws of ecology that dictate species population, then what about our rhetorical cate gories and our symbolic meanings? Some argue that the human capacity for symbolic thought dist inguishes us from “lower” species. In Earth Abides Stewart does not attempt to refute this notion; however, he does suggest that the ecological dynamics that sh ape humans socially and physically also shape the direction of our abstract meanings attributing what is human to the natural world—again, making us animals. The argumen ts made in his narrative anticipate recent theories linking biosphere and discourse. As the ecocompositionists Sidney I. Dobrin and Christian R. Weisser note, “While discourse does indeed shape our human conceptions of the world around us, discourse itself arises from a biosphere that sustains life. That is, while discourse ‘creates’ the world in the human mind, the biospheric physical environment is the origin of life (and consequently, the human mind) itself” (12). Ecological literacy is not only knowledge of how the biological trends of the material

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44 world shape human beings but also unders tanding the connections between ecology, or physical place, and symbolic meaning. Dobrin and Weisser illustra te their contention that “L anguage reflects place” by citing the numerous terms for rainbow in the Hawaiian language and for snow in the Inuit language (13). Stewart performs a similar m ove in his novel, not sp ecifically addressing the biospherical origins of words but instead of concepts and ideas, the partners to language. In several of his italicized commentaries, Stew art draws attention to the collapse of certain human symbolic construc ts initiated by the reemerging primacy of wilderness. Regarding domesticated dogs, in the post-apocalyptic world “ no longer would Best-of-Breed go for stance, and shape of head, and markings ,” all arbitrary conditions for enforcing hierarchies of aesthet ics and vitality upon animals (27). Instead, “ The prize, which was life itself, would go to the one of keenest brain, staunchest limb, and strongest jaw, who could best shape himse lf to meet the new ways and who in the old competition of the wilderness could win the means of life ” (27). Further, those species of flora previously known as weeds for their undesirable presence in cultivated lawns and gardens “ pressed in to destroy the pampered nurslings of man ” in both a very real and symbolic undermining of artificially cons tructed meanings (43). And finally, automobiles—“ the pride and symbol of civilization ”—deteriorate as natural entropic processes break down their ba tteries and tires while they sit neglected (107). In Earth Abides as pre-modern conditions of wi lderness end modern conceptual usages, which embody the human/nature disconn ect characteristic of modern humanity, so too do they bring about th e return of nature-based, ecology-centered symbols and meanings. In her discussion of ritual, e nvironmental philosopher Dolores LaChapelle

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45 notes, “Most native societies around the worl d [. .] had an intimate, conscious relationship with their place,” a relationship out of which their symbolisms grew (247). Ish’s new native society regain s this relationship as wilder ness returns as the governing force. For example, with the four-figured da ting system deemed ill ogical for their current situation, Ish and his female partner, Em, star t over with a new dating system that better reflects the conditions of thei r newly primitive world. As in Christian mythology, Year One in their society is marked by the birth of a baby; however, the parallels end there. Ish’s community perceives its dependence on th e land and essential obedience to natural forces, thus its symbolic tendencies develop aw ay from the type of human/nature binaries that Christianity encourages. Instead, one year becomes “Year of the Fires,” another becomes “Year of the Bulls,” another become s “Year of the Lions,” and still another becomes “Year of the Earthquake” (129, 132, 134, 143). In these cases and in several others, Ish and Em’s emerging society names its social history for events in natural history, using its symbolic capacities to recogn ize the role of the natural world in human social existence. This recognition also appears in the new society’s holidays. As LaChapelle comments, “ all traditional cultures, even our own long-ago Western European cultural ancestors, had seasonal festivals and rituals. Th e true origin of most of our modern major holidays dates back to these seasonal festival s” (248). Ish’s society abandons patriotic holidays like the Fourth of July, as well as other holidays not or iginating in seasonal festivities, but continues those holidays with roots in natural cycles: “Curiously,” the narrator writes, “or perhaps rather it was natural enough, the old folk-holidays survived better than those established by law” (295) So April Fool’s Day and Halloween—

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46 celebrations of the vernal equinox and autumnal cross-qu arter day, respectively—are carried on. Continued, too, is the celebra tion of winter’s cr oss-quarter day, Groundhog Day, modified to Ground-squi rrel day in an area with no groundhogs. And the “great holiday” for the group is what was “Christmas and New Years of the Old Times”: the winter solstice (295). On this day, when for those in the northern hemisphere the sun is the furthest south, Ish’s community gets toge ther to name the passing year and to begin anew. Quoting from Richard B. Lee and Irven DeVore’s Man the Hunter Wayland Drew speculates that if humans do meet an apocalyptic end, “interplanetary archeologists of the future will classify our planet as one in which a very long and stable period of small-s cale hunting and gathering was followed by an apparently instantaneous efflorescence of technology and society leading rapidly to extinction. ‘Stratigraph ically,’ the origin of ag riculture and thermonuclear destruction will appear as esse ntially simultaneous.” (118) Though not a story of nuclear catastrophe nor one of total human extinction, Earth Abides does much to stage Lee and DeVore’s and Drew’s speculation. The extended period of cultural stability referenced here is one made possible by pre-modern societies that lived with nature, both physically and symb olically, and that like animals did little to spoil their place. Ish’s new San Francisco repr esents this stability reemerging after what deep ecologist George Sessions optimistical ly calls human culture’s “anthropocentric detour,” the ten-thousand years out of nearly four million that humanity has strayed from its traditionally sustainable course, inventing monoculture agriculture, anti-ecological spiritualities, growth-centered economies, and other constructs that require and encourage a human/nature disconnect (156). Stewart’s book puts humanity back on track, so to speak—the ecocentric track. In its conclusion, Stewart writes, “In the times of civilization men had really felt themselves

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47 as the masters of creation. Everything had b een good or bad in relation to man. So you killed rattlesnakes. But now nature had become so overw helming that any attempt at its control was merely outside anyone’s circle of thought. You live d as part of it, not as its dominating power” (281). With regard to human material and symbolic lifeways, Stewart demonstrates the crucial differen ces between a modern human society that behaves according to an ideo logy of human-centeredness and an ecologically literate premodern society. The former is out of touch w ith its fundamental animality and lives as if it can overcome natural, ecological pressures, despite evidence to the contrary. The latter—the society to which Ish’s has return ed—is one with an ecol ogical conscience, one that sees its connection to the biosphere and lives not to subdue natural processes but to integrate itself physically and sy mbolically into the landscape. Dune Physical and symbolic sense of place is also a central issue in Frank Herbert’s Dune a novel that stages the collision of two cu ltural paradigms: one ecocentric and one ecologically and politically exploitive. Lame nting that modern culture has not preserved native ecological wisdom, the environmental education theorist C.A. Bowers writes, “Native American cultures [. .] had evol ved in ecologically res ponsive ways; but what could have been learned from their thousands of years of experience in adapting to the unique characteristics of their habitat was ignored because they were perceived as unenlightened and pre-modern” (10-11). Bo wers supports Native American indigenous knowledge in his effort to invigorate a peda gogical shift toward eco logical literacy. Looking back on Dune we see Herbert’s similar effort to revalue indigenous ways of life. Interestingly, scholars have compared the aboriginal culture of Dune the Fremen, to the Apache and to other natives of the North American Southwest. The Fremen

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48 possess a “superb knowledge of their environm ent” (O’Reilly 41) and “a kind of earthwisdom” that allows them to live with th e dry climate and carnivorous sandworms of their planet Arrakis, or Dune (O’Reilly 42). As ecologically aware inhabitants of an arid ecosystem, the Fremen have developed “the ability to sense even the slightest change in the air’s moisture” (Herbert, Dune 301). In school, Fremen children chant the names of plant and animal species as well as geological and seasonal concepts such as “‘erosion’” and “‘summer,’” demonstrating their burgeoni ng ecological conscience (336). Indeed, the Fremen are “dwellers”; they live well in th eir place. Unlike the transient regimes that the Emperor places as colonial administrators of Arrakis and that merely need to know how to mine the spice produced by the sandw orms, the Fremen inhabit Arrakis. Environmental thinkers distinguish dwelle rs, or inhabitants, from “residents,” providing an ideal framework for discussing the disparity between Dune ’s Fremen and its politically and economically powerful ent ities. Another environmental education specialist, David W. Orr, notes, “The inha bitant and a particul ar habitat cannot be separated without doing violence to both. [. .] The inhabi tant and place mutually shape each other” (102). To dwell, as Ivan Illich defines it, is “to inha bit one’s own traces, to let daily life write the webs and knots of one’s biography into the landscape” (22). By contrast, “the resident is a temporary and rootless occ upant who mostly needs to know where the banks and stores are in order to plug in. [. .] To reside is to live as a transient and as a stranger to one’s place” (Orr 102). Resembling Ish’s new society in Earth Abides the Fremen are dwellers. Arrakis’s desertscape has shaped their symbo lisms and technologies. To make the point clear, Herbert contrasts the cultural assump tions of Arrakis’s most recently appointed

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49 administrators—the Atreides regime that has moved from the water-rich Caladan—with those of the Fremen. In one tense scene, St ilgar, a Fremen leader, spits on Duke Leto Atreides’ table: The Fremen stared at the Duke, then sl owly pulled aside his veil, revealing a thin nose and full-lipped mouth in a glistening black beard. Deliber ately he bent over the end of the table, sp at on its polished surface. As the men around the table started to surge to their feet, Idaho’s voice boomed across the room: “Hold!” Into the sudden charged stillness, Idaho said: “We thank you, Stilgar, for the gift of your body’s moisture. We accept it in th e spirit with which it is given.” And Idaho spat on the table in front of the Duke. (92) Duncan Idaho, one of the Duke’s men, must then remind the Duke of the value of water, and thus of saliva, on Arrakis: “‘Re member how precious water is here, Sire. That was a token of respect’” (92). The Fr emen also see crying differently than the foreign Atreides, so when the Duke’s son and he ir to the Atreides th rone, Paul, cries over the death of a Fremen man he killed in a ritu al battle, the Fremen appreciate his gift of “moisture to the dead” rather than despise him in his victory (306). Technologically, the Fremen also possess a consciousness of place, a consciousness exhibited in the suits they wear to conserve water. Explaining these “stillsuits,” LietKynes, Dune ’s important planetary ec ologist, states, “‘It’s basically a micro-sandwich—a high-efficiency filter and heat-exchange system. [. .] The skin-contact layer’s porous. Perspiration passes through it, having cool ed the body . near-normal evaporation process. The next two layers [. .] include heat exchange filaments and salt precipitators. Salt’s reclaimed’” (109). The stillsuits pro cess urine and feces and reclaim most of the body’s water for its Fremen wearer to drink again, all with the energy provided by body movement. “‘With a Fremen suit in good working order,’” Kynes insists, “‘you won’t

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50 lose more than a thimbleful of moisture a da y’” (109). Viewed from the perspective of a modern culture whose technological conven tions flaunt human supremacy, Fremen stillsuits “emphasize appropriate and environmentally sensiti ve technology rather than high-tech gadgetry for its own sake” (Gough 409). As such, stillsuits threaten a status quo, supported in modern ecocolonial trajecto ries, in which cultural and technological progress is measured in terms of the degr ee to which human supremacy is accentuated. The antipathy toward dwelling that emerges out of the hegemony’s fear of contrary ideologies is represented in Dune by the opposition toward the Fremen shown by those in power. The colonial powers demonstrate such contempt for Fremen, in fact, that we can discern Herbert’s subtext: to live well in a place—to be indigenous—disrupts the mechanisms of the residing powerful who s ee place through an economic lens, in this case, through the promise of spice profits. The Fremen are “marked down on no census of the Imperial Regate”; the Imperium doe s not recognize their existence (Herbert, Dune 5). In fact, the Emperor’s thought about the Fr emen demonstrates this erasure of identity and being, while it also shows how the hege mony views place not in terms of natural ecology but of economic class: “‘but what else is one to expect of barbarians whose dearest dream is to live outside the ordered security of the faufreluches?’” (the Imperial system of place based on cl ass distinctions) (78). Paul Atreides takes an early interest in Arrakis as a place and in the Fremen as the planet’s dwelling culture, but the resident attit udes of the power structure prevent him from forming such a divergent consciousness. Before the Atreides leave for Arrakis one of Paul’s mentors, Thufir Hawat, insists to Pa ul, “‘A place is only a place. [. .] And Arrakis is just another place,’” thereby instilli ng in him the values of a transient resident

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51 (28). When Paul admits he has been studyi ng the great storms of Arrakis, Hawat again prevents him from developing an ecological connection to the planet, this time scaring him: “Those storms build up across six or seven thousand kilometers of flatlands, feed on anything that can give them a push—corio lis force, other storms, anything that has an ounce of energy in it. They can blow up to seven hundred kilometers an hour, loaded with everything loose that’s in their way—sand, dust, everything. They can eat flesh off bones and etch the bones to slivers.” (28) And like the Emperor, Hawat scorns Arraki s’s Fremen, stating, “‘There’s little to tell them from the folk of the graben and si nk. They all wear those great flowing robes. And they stink to heaven in any closed space. It’s from those suits they wear—call them ‘stillsuits’—that reclaim the body’s own wate r’” (29). Hawat discourages Paul from acquiring a bond with Arrakis as a place to dw ell and with the planet’s ecologically literate people. He teaches Paul to fear the planet, and he admits to himself the reason for doing so: “ Perhaps I’m doing it, getting across to him the importance of this planet as an enemy. It’s madness to go in ther e without that caution in our minds ” (29). While Hawat instills in Paul the resident posture necessary for a future colonial leader, the Reverend Mother of the Bene Gesserit—a religious group that has its own political motives—makes Paul very aware of Arrakis’s natural ecology in order to make him a good ruler who, presumably, can feign dw elling while exploiting the Fremen (30). She tells him “‘a good ruler has to learn his wo rld’s language, [. .] the language of the rocks and growing things, the language you don’t ju st hear with your ears’” (30). As the critic Susan Stratton notes, Paul “solve[s] the mysteries of Arrakis ecology and learn[s] to fit into the corresponding cultu re of its indigenous people,” though he does so not to become an inhabitant of the planet but to “accomplish his goal, which is to reclaim the planet for the Atreides ” after the rival House Harkonnen wrests power from Paul’s father

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52 (307). Paul’s teachers, Hawat and the Reve rend Mother, thus condition him to be a resident before he even steps onto Arrakis. That the Fremen are dwellers and the Empe ror, House Atreides, the Bene Gesserit, and all others involved in the exploitation of Arrakis are residents is an important distinction to make, for it gives more credence to Dune as “an important first step for a generation of SF readers who needed to le arn the fundamentals of ecology” (Stratton 313). But contrary to Stratton’s observation that “ Dune does nothing to show us a way out of the environmental crisis we face,” Herbert’s novel does take an active role in examining alternatives to the anti-ecological st atus quo (314). In particular, if we look at Dune within the context of the i nhabitant/resident dichotomy that it sets up with its contrasting cultures, we find that the nove l subversively favors the sense of place and community maintained by the indigenous Fremen while it criticizes th e resident attitudes of power held by those involved in Arraki s’s exploitation, attitudes that ultimately infiltrate even the Fremen ways. One of the ironies of the Fremen’s ex istence as an ecologically conscious civilization is that their ques t for political independence involves major intervention in Arrakis’s desert ecology, creating seas and thereby exterminating the sandworms, ending economic interest in the planet. Indeed, the anthropocentric desire to reshape Arrakis to “fit it to man’s needs” is a cas e of adapting the place to the pe ople rather than the people to the place—a direct contradi ction of subversive ecology’s motives (477). While this irony complicates Dune ’s position as an ecocritical scie nce fiction text, it becomes less of a problem if we consider that the terraforming effort involves three to five centuries of collecting water and educating generations of Fremen about the ecological system being

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53 created. Describing the effort, Stilgar says, “‘We change [Arrakis] . slowly but with certainty . to make it fit for human life. Our generation will not see it, nor our children nor our children’s children nor the grandchildren of their children . but it will come’” (283). Besides being deliberate in its goals, the Fremen terraforming project is ecologically conscious and constructive, offe ring instruction for Fremen children on the dynamics of a healthy ecosystem and in effect acting as a lesson in ecology for readers of Herbert’s novel. “Ephemerals [. .], then scot ch broom, low lupine, vine eucalyptus [. .], dwarf tamarisk, shore pine” all work toge ther in the new Dune ecosystem, as do “candelilla, saguaro, and bis-naga the barrel cactus [. .] camel sage, onion grass, gobi feather grass, wild alfalfa, burrow bush, sa nd verbena, evening primrose, incense bush, smoke tree, creosote bush” (482). The animal s needed in the system include “burrowing creatures to open the soil and aerate it,” “predato rs to keep them in check,” “insects to fill the niches these couldn’t r each,” and “the desert bat to keep watch on these” (482). While the human-centered “specter of terra (terror)forming,” as the SF scholar Ernest J. Yanarella calls it, may still haunt Dune the Fremen’s managerial ecology—their ecosystemist stance—can be read less as a narrative of the Enlightenment will-to-dominate nature and more as a way of setting up the Fr emen as an intentional, ecologically aware society whose respect for the dynamics of pl ace works hand-in-hand wi th their political needs as a colonized people (225). Unfortunately, Fremen ecological liter acy succumbs to political expediency, marking the defeat of ecocentric lifeways and the spread of the less sustainable modes of being necessitated by coloni alist pressures and supported by newfound power. Paul

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54 Atreides plays in to the legend of the “Mahdi”—the messiah who will lead the Fremen to paradise—instilled in the Fremen culture by the Bene Gesserit’s Missionaria Protectiva, “the arm of the Bene Gesserit order charge d with sowing infectious superstitions on primitive worlds, thus opening those regions to exploitation by the Bene Gesserit” (507). He promises the Fremen a more rapid path to independence, looking past their deliberate terraforming effort and instead instigating a jihad. As Paul’s mother, Jessica, reflects, “ Gathering water, planting the dunes, changing their world slowly but surely—these are no longer enough [. .] The little raids, the certain raids—these are no longer enough now that Paul and I have trained them. Th ey feel their power. They want to fight ” (388). But the fight is less political revolution by th e Fremen than it is social and religious manipulation by the Atreides. Earlie r in the novel, Je ssica thinks, “ These Fremen are beautifully prepared to believe in us ,” crediting the Missionaria Protectiva’s “sowing” (277). The Fremen “could be wielded like a sword to win back Paul’s place for him” after the Atreides’ rival house has taken over (311). Central to Paul’s politically revolutionary rhetoric is his instigation of faith in an accelerated Fremen terraforming project. As Leonard M. Scigaj observes of Dune Messiah the second book in the Dune series, the Fremen Farok’s “only personal motive for enlisting in the war [. .] is to realize hi s fantasy of immersing himself in a real sea” (342). Perhaps the reason Farok believes he wi ll see Arrakian seas in his lifetime, as opposed to expecting the change to come in th ree to five generations is Paul’s rousing speech in Dune : “‘What’s our goal’ Paul aske d. ‘To unseat Rabban, the Harkonnen beast, and remake our world into a place where we may raise our families in happiness amidst an abundance of water’” (414). Th at Paul convinces the living Fremen—“we”

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55 rather than “our future generations”—that they will raise their families in such a paradise demonstrates the power of the ideology of e xpediency that Herbert makes a key issue in his novel. In fact, when historic izing the terraforming scheme in Dune ’s appendix, Dune ’s narrator writes of the original pla n, “the Ecological-Fremen were aimed along their way. Liet-Kynes had only to watch a nd nudge and spy upon the Harkonnens . until the day his planet was afflicted by a Hero” (483). In the end, Paul Atreides is an affliction, both politically and ecologically. He pulls the Fremen from their dwelling roots, from th eir deliberate ways as an indigenous culture fighting political oppression in a way compatib le with their long-established, sustainable ways of life. Paul’s jihad does not free the Fremen from colonial subjugation. Instead, it places them under the power of another hegemony, denying them the total independence that the terraforming plan would have permitted and forcing them into the hands of the ruling class. In Dune Messiah Paul’s complete control ov er the terraforming effort provokes some resistance. Fremen resent the jihad, which Farok admits in retrospect was fueled by a desire for “‘experiences, adventure, wealth,’” and indeed the seas (58). And as Paul observes, the Fremen had “become a ci vilization of [. .] people who solved all problems with power . and more power . and still more power” (225). Paul’s revolution acts as a social trap for the Fremen, where “players,” in this case the Fremen, “are lured into behavior that eventually undermines the health and stability of the system” (Orr 5). The Fremen followed Paul into a jihad that only freed them from being overpowered rather than from power itsel f, a power that finally undermines their sustainable existence.

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56 The critique of the dynamics of power in Dune is, in the end, its subversive act. The power Paul brings to the Fremen is a misf ortune because it only inserts them into an already established and viol ent system of power exchange without permitting them a space for independence outside this system, i ndependence they were attempting to gain with their terraforming project. As a dwelli ng culture, the Fremen can exist outside this system of globalized, or rather universalize d, hegemony, just as native cultures of the North American continent exis ted independently of European power before colonization. But to exist as a sovereign social body—som ething dependent upon a culture’s ecological self-sustainability—endangers the political sy stems of empire, which needs the resources of those independent entities. Thus, the Fremen must be in tegrated and made compatible with the residing powerful. To suggest that such integration can only result in more struggle, as Herbert does, is indeed a pol itically subversive pr oclamation against the viability of empire. Further, to call out imperial processes as traps against the cultures that these processes subjugate is also a subversive move. Herb ert’s critical ecology emerges when the removal of Fremen eco logical lifeways becomes the means of integrating them into the hegemony. Getting th e dwellers to reside is the method of the empire, and this is the method of which Herbert is most critical. Conclusion Kynes’ father, the designer of the Frem en terraforming project, insists, “‘the highest function of ecology is the understandi ng of consequences’” (482). O’Reilly notes that this statement is taken almost directly from Sears (55). The definition of ecology as the understanding of consequences is also supported by the bi ologist Garrett Hardin, who sees ecological literacy or “eco lacy” as the ability to ask “ And then what? ” (25). And Orr notes, “[ecological literacy] implies the abil ity to think broadly, to know something of

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57 what is hitched to what” (87). Not only Dune but also Last and First Men “Twilight,” and Earth Abides are all concerned with consequen ces, with the question “And then what?” and with “what is hitched to what.” These are narratives that address the effects of human ideas and actions on natural syst ems and ask, “And then what happens when our doctrinal commitments have led to the exhaustion of resources and the resulting ecological and social poverties?” They ask: What happens to our own humanity when wilderness no longer exists? What happens when we sever ourselves from our essential animality? And what happens when modern in stitutions co-opt those cultures yet to travel down the path of th e anthropocentric detour? The collective portrait sketched in these ea rly SF stories is not only one of forwardlooking ecological concerns. It also addresses what is hitche d to what and finds many of the fundamentals of modern lifeways to be hitched to the desp oilment of a healthy biosphere and of the cultural systems that support such a biosphere. In this regard, Last and First Men “Twilight,” Earth Abides and Dune express their ecological consciences in their radical questioning of the status-quo systems that bring about ecological harm. Such questioning would continue in science fiction as the genre grew with the postRachel Carson environmental movement, aligni ng itself with the more specific critiques of human-centeredness, male-centeredness, and capitalism that developed out of the general subversive attitudes of ecology.

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58 CHAPTER 4 ECOTOPIA, DYS(ECO)TOPIA, AND THE VISIONS OF DEEP ECOLOGY As the physicist Fritjof Capra writes, th e modern customs instigating ecological degradation result from a “crisis of perception [. .] derive[d] from the fact that most of us and especially our large social institutions subscribe to the concepts and values of an outdated worldview, which is inadequate for dealing with the problems of our overpopulated, globally interconne cted world” (19). Capra’ s specific interest is in challenging the human-centered and mechanis tic ideas of Galileo, Bacon, Newton, and Descartes that still pervade modern thinki ng and inform modern practices, as well as confronting the insidious assumption that a ll economic growth “is good and that more growth is always better” (23). To his delight, Capra observes the emergence of a paradigm that effectively contests such ideas : deep ecology. Deep ecology is “a holistic worldview,” “an ecological worldview,” a worl dview that “recognizes the intrinsic values of all living beings and views humans as just one particular strand in the web of life” (20). In such recognition, deep ecology enc ourages profound moral and ethical changes, changes that can be described as co mponents of an ecological conscience. As demonstrated so far in this study, a crucial step for inspiring ecological consciousness is to break down worldviews th at divide humans fr om nonhuman nature and to locate new ecocentric paradigms that assert the intrinsic value of the natural world and understand humans as actors within, not agains t, ecosystems. In this chapter, I show how two utopian science fiction novels of the 1970s—Ernest Callenbach’s Ecotopia (1975) and Marge Piercy’s Woman on the Edge of Time (1976)—reflect the ideological

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59 and practical changes that deep ecology advocates, while John Brunner’s dystopian novels envision worlds where the ecotopian, deep ecological impulse is suppressed and even annihilated. Although I do not aim to show that Callenbac h, Piercy, and Brunner are deep ecologists or were directly influenced by deep ecology’s major thinkers, I do hope to illustrate that their novels are im portant theoretical excursions into deep ecology’s philosophical territories. Regarding the ecotopian fiction—the subject of the first section of this chapter—I support Bill Devall and George Sessions’ vision of ecotopian possibility: “Crea ting ecotopian futures has practical value. It helps us articulate our goals and presents an ideal which may never be completely realized but which keeps us focused on the ideal. We can also compare our personal actions and collective public decisions on specifi c issues with this goal” (162). Though not students of utopia, Devall a nd Sessions echo scholars whose works assert the value of the utopian imagination in modern culture. They do for ecotopian fiction what utopian literar y scholars do for utopian fic tion—that is, declare the importance of what Lyman Tower Sargent calls “social dreaming” for the formation of an alternative society (1). As Tom Moylan writes in Demand the Impossible in producing utopian images “that radically break with prevailing social systems [. .] utopian discourse articulates the possibi lity of other ways of living in the world” (26). Wegner takes Moylan a step further, demonstrating the ways that the imaginary communities of Thomas More’s Utopia Edward Bellamy’s Looking Backward Ursula Le Guin’s The Dispossessed and other texts have transcended the status of being books about possibility and have figured into modern nation buildi ng. Referencing Antoni o Gramsci, Wegner notes,

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60 in the narrative utopia, the presentation of an “ideal world” operates as a kind of lure, a play on deep desires, both immediatel y historical and othe rwise, to draw its readers in and thereby enable the form’s educational machinery to go to work—a machinery that enables its r eaders to perceive the worl d they occupy in a new way, providing them with some of the skills a nd dispositions necessary to inhabit an emerging social, political, and cultural environment. (2) Thus, utopian fiction is fiction of possi bility and praxis; its social dreaming envisions optional cultural pa ths and instructs social and political progre ssion toward these paths. Deep ecology’s endorsement of ecotopian fi ction stems from the “ideal world” that ecotopias imagine. A movement grounded in a belief in species equality, spiritual interconnectedness, and the shared right of all living things to participate in their own self-realization within dynami c ecosystems, deep ecology finds in ecotopian texts the narration of many of its desire s. Ecotopian space, unlike th e space of the modern world, intrudes little on other species. Its hu man inhabitants participate in communal governments and promote economic systems that are not growth-centered and resourceintensive. Ecotopian fiction portrays worlds far different from the originary world that it contests, articulating ecologically conscientious lifeways hitherto restrained by modern social, political, economic, and even religious hegemony. Ecotopian fiction is also an instructive “educational machinery,” a cognitive ly estranging lens through which readers can compare their world with that proposed in fiction and as a result better perceive the flaws of current systems. Devall and Sessi ons’ confidence in ecotopian fiction stems from their understanding of the possibilities of ecotopia for narrowing, in their words, “the distance between what ought to be a nd what is now realit y in our technocraticindustrial society” (162). Callenbach’s and Pi ercy’s texts are valuable for this reason.

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61 Deep Ecology, Ecotopia and Woman on the Edge of Time Ecotopia chronicles the visit of New York Times-Post reporter William Weston to Ecotopia, the area once comprising Washi ngton, Oregon, and northern California. Ecotopia seceded from the United States tw enty years prior to Weston’s visit, and Weston’s purpose there is to write a series of articles documenting the practices of the nation’s inhabitants. These practices include the development of a “stable-state,” antigrowth economy and a national goal to reduc e population. Early in the text, Weston’s newspaper articles—which along with his private diary make up the novel—are openly critical of Ecotopian ways: their lack of tr affic and billboards is drab and isolating, their recycling is “an enormous expenditure of pers onal effort” (18), and their elimination of processed foods and putting certain foods on “‘Bad Practice lists’ ” (20) is “a loophole that might house a large and rather totalitarian rat” (21). Desp ite the reporter’s bias, later in the novel he admits that his attitu de toward the nation is changing: “ the more closely I look at the fabric of Ecot opian life, the more I am for ced to admit its strength and its beauty ” (103). And though Weston’s visit to Ecot opia is only supposed to last six weeks, he ultimately stays there. In a letter to his editor he writes, “ I’ve decided not to come back, Max. You’ll understand why from the notebook. But thank you for sending me on this assignment, when neither you nor I kn ew where it might le ad. It led me home ” (181). A similar reevaluation of ecotopian life occurs in Piercy’s Woman on the Edge of Time as the book’s main character, Connie Ramos, admits she wishes her young daughter could grow up in Mattapoisett, the novel’s future ecotopia: She will be strange, but she will be glad a nd strong and she will not be afraid. She will have enough. She will have pride. Sh e will love her own brown skin and be loved for her strength and her good work. Sh e will walk in strength like a man and never sell her body and she will nurse her babi es like a woman and live in love like

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62 a garden, like that children’ s house of many colors. Peopl e of the rainbow with its end fixed in earth, I gi ve her to you! (133) She has reasons to wish such a fate for her daughter, for Connie has grown up in a fast-paced New York City, has lived on the streets, has been physically and mentally abused by men, has had the one man she ever loved taken away from her by the prison system and killed in a medical experiment, a nd during the course of the novel is herself forced into a medical experiment while living in a mental health facility. Despite the aversion Connie should have toward existi ng social institutions, like Weston in Callenbach’s book she is reluctant to accept the promises of ecotopia, of Mattapoisett. Her friend from Mattapoisett in the year 2137, Luciente, informs her of the fundamental and positive changes that have occurred in the alternative future, most of which are grounded in the reharmonization of humans w ith the rest of nature. Living under the supremacy of modern technocratic thought, though, Connie can only doubt the viability of these changes. She ques tions the city’s lack of so cial hierarchy, patriarchy, and government. But the revolutionary thinkers living in the ecotopian future ultimately assist Connie on a journey to free herself from the forces that have dominated her life for so long. In the end, while she does not get to live in the future ecotopia, “she thought of Mattapoisett” as she revolts against the hegemony (364).1 As utopias that contrast the perceptions and actions of modern, Western culture with those of ecotopian possibili ty, and that favor the latter, Ecotopia and Woman on the 1 Billie Maciunas sees Connie’s revolt—poisoning four doctors with pesticide she stole from her brother— as an act of violence, a poor course for implementing utopian changes (256). Importantly, though, Connie’s violence attests to the dominance of the patriarchal worldview to which she has been indoctrinated all her life, and therefore to which she must succumb in order to undergo a personal revolution. Piercy’s controversial ending thus demonstrates her awareness that changing from modern paradigms to utopian paradigms is a difficult task, as the hegemony will not respond to the diplomatic tools of utopia.

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63 Edge of Time explore the changes that deep ecol ogists support. In summarizing the strategies for ecological su stainability promoted by Arne Naess, the Norwegian environmental philosopher who coined the ex pression “deep ecology” in the early 1970s, David E. Cooper writes, “Among the policies ad vocated by Naess are radical reduction of the world’s population, abandonment of the goa l of economic growth in the developed world, conservation of biotic diversity, liv ing in small, simple, and self-reliant communities, and—less specifically—a commitment ‘to touch the Earth lightly’” (213). Callenbach’s and Piercy’s ecotopian spaces display similar commitments to these policies. They challenge modern paradigms and advan ce ecologically literate and sustainable worldviews and practices, u ltimately informing the deep ecological conscience. Population and Economy Both Arne Naess and Gary Snyder, anot her important voice in the deep ecology movement, agree that taking steps to reduce world populatio n is central to achieving ecological sustainability. In his semina l 1973 essay “The Shallow and the Deep, LongRange Ecology Movements: A Summary,” Nae ss sketches his con cept of biospherical egalitarianism, which is a fundamental princi ple of environmental movements wishing to go beyond mere “shallow” efforts to cut pollutio n and resource depletion, efforts really aimed to preserve “natural resources” fo r affluent nations (151). Biospherical egalitarianism requires “a deep-seated respect, or even veneration, for ways and forms of life” (151-152). It esch ews hierarchies of being, instead observing “ the equal right to live and blossom ” for all forms of life (152). Importantly, biospherical egalitarianism “implies the reinterpreta tion of the future-research variable ‘level of crowding,’ so that general mammalian crowding and loss of life-equali ty is taken seriously, not only human

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64 crowding” (152). It is implicit in Naess’s argument that spec ies equality necessitates the protection of appropriate life-space requirement s for all organisms. And since life-space for any one species is reduced as another species overcrowds and infiltrates, human overpopulation violates eg alitarian principles. Because human overcrowding poses such a threat to the rights of other species, Snyder, in “Four Changes,” suggests cutt ing world population—that of 1974—in half. His reasoning is similar to Naess’s: Position: Man is but a part of the fabric of life—dependent on the whole fabric for his very existence. As the most hi ghly developed tool-using animal, he must recognize that the unknown evolutionary de stinies of other life forms are to be respected, and act as gentle stewards of the earth’s community of being. Situation: There are now too many huma n beings, and the problem is growing rapidly worse. It is potentially disastr ous not only for the human race but for most other life forms. (141-142) The population problem can be addressed on the social and political levels, Snyder believes, by convincing governments that hum an overpopulation is a serious problem, by legalizing abortion and promoting steriliza tion, by questioning and correcting cultural ways of thinking that press women to have children, and by refusing to see a nation’s growing population as a sign of a good econom y (142). On the level of community, Snyder endorses alternative marri age structures, sharing “the pl easures of raising children widely, so that all need not directly reproduce to enter into this basic human experience” (142), limiting family size, adopting children, and as Naess also encourages, developing “a reverence for other species” (143). Reflecting the spirit of deep ecological thinking, Ecotopia approaches the human population problem in a manner similar to N aess and Snyder. As if guided by Snyder’s political concerns, “After secession, Ecotopi ans adopted a formal national goal of a

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65 declining population” (67). Ecotopians want to reduce population to minimize pressure on other species, and they begin their effo rts by legalizing and lo wering the cost of abortion, by universalizing fema le contraceptives, by associ ating life quality with a decentralized society dispersed “into the count ryside” rather than with population growth and economic expansion, and by disintegrating th e nuclear family (67-69). On this final point, “Ecotopians still speak of ‘families,’ but they me an by that term a group of between five and 20 people, some of them actually related and some not, who live together” (69-70). Raising children is a shar ed duty in these “communal groups” (70). The efforts to control population in Woman on the Edge of Time similarly reflect the ideas of deep ecology. Though Mattapoisett ’s use of “brooders,” in which babies are grown in tanks, is more of a science fi ctional example of population control than Ecotopia’s political and social methods, it nevertheless represents a mode of consciousness that values conscientious c ontrol over a society’s population. Analyzing science fiction texts as narra ting critical changes in our society often uncovers such strange examples of how to go about change; but since the nature of the genre is to fictionalize speculative thought, examples like Ma ttapoisett’s brooders must be viewed as fictional representations of pa rticular modes of consciousne ss. Thus the brooder becomes not a real possibility but a ma nifestation of a particular way of thinking. Besides the brooders as a means of populat ion control, the residents of Mattapoisett also choose not to use their scientific expert ise to find ways to prolong lif e. Addressing this issue, Luciente admits, “‘I think it comes down to the fact we’re still reducing population’” (269). Finally, similar to the communal groups of Ecotopia and to the community child

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66 rearing Snyder proposes, Mattapoisett’s chil dren are assigned three “mothers,” or nurturers, who can be male or female.2 Ecotopia and Woman on the Edge of Time thus serve deep ecology as educational machineries in that they present societies attempting to fulfill the movement’s goal to reduce population. The methods of the form er are less fictional than those of Woman on the Edge of Time and in fact mirror Snyder’s viab le proposals, while the latter novel exploits the generic conventions of science fiction as it speculates on fantastic solutions to the human population problem. Despite th ese differences, the novels both generate awareness of human overpopulation and reasons why such overpopulation is a problem, awareness that deep ecology finds key to cr eating an ecologically sustainable world. Along with human overpopulation, the modern mania surrounding economic growth and consumerism has distressed the world’s ecosystems by encouraging a severe exceeding of natural thresholds. As Sessions notes in his preface to Deep Ecology for the 21st Century Government leaders and economic elites in Industrial Growth Societies continue to push for endless economic growth and developm ent. [. .] Third World countries are now entering global markets and tryi ng to become First World countries by destroying their ecosystems and wild speci es as they emulate the industrial and consumer patterns of the eco logically destructiv e unsustainable First World. (xx) Earth Policy Institute president Lester R. Brown speaks also to this point: “Over the last half-century, the sevenfold expansion of the global economy has pushed the demand on local ecosystems beyond the sustainabl e yield in country af ter country” (79). Brown’s specific concern is with the grow th economy’s injurious effects on oceanic 2 As Barbara Drake summarizes, “What Piercy substitute s for the paired father and mother is a cooperative of three ‘Mothers’ for each child. They may be male or female. They volunteer to ‘Mother.’ [. .] With the mothers, the child becomes part of a loose familial group, co-mothers and others” (114).

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67 fisheries, forests, and rangelands. Since ec onomic growth is so responsible for violating the tenets of biospherical egalitarianis m everywhere, deep ecologists advocate fundamental changes in the ways developing a nd industrial societies view such growth. Rather than valuing economic expansion, de ep ecologists—and the SF writers discussed here—look toward more ecologically conscientious economic paradigms. Arne Naess outlines several lifestyle changes necessary for restructuring a growthcentered mentality into an ecological ly sustainable economic paradigm: “Anticonsumerism and minimization of persona l property”; “Endeavor to maintain and increase sensitivity and appreciation of goods of which there is enough for all to enjoy”; “Absence or low degree of ‘novophilia’—the love of what is new merely because it is new. Cherishing old and well-worn things”; “the attempt to avoid a material standard of living too much different from and highe r than the needy”; and “Appreciation of lifestyles which are universalizable, which are not blatantly impossible to sustain without injustice toward fellow humans or other specie s” (“Deep Ecology and Lifestyle” 260). In encouraging less consumption, common standard s of living, and egalitarianism between and among species, these changes advance life behaviors that reje ct the exploitive practices of a modern growth economy that hard ly confirms the intrinsic value of species or shows any reverence for nonhuman life. Like Naess, Snyder hopes for changes in modern society’s deep-seated, unsustainable economic worldview. In fact, he offers a very Thoreauvian maxim: “True affluence is not needing anythi ng,” a direct challenge to the growth economy (146). With his assertion that “a continually ‘growing ec onomy’ is no longer healthy, but a Cancer,” Snyder also offers a potent critique of the my th of progress (146). Rather than blindly

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68 accepting economic progress without consideri ng its deleterious effects on ecosystems and social systems, Snyder supports an econom y that operates as a part of ecology, that handles production, distribution, and consump tion “with the same elegance and spareness one sees in nature” (146). For Snyder, personal possessions should surrender to communal sharing, and the modern fascination with new technologies should surrender to a high esteem for old ways: “handicrafts, gardening, home skills, mid-wifery, herbs—all the things that can make us independen t, beautiful and whole” (146). Both Ecotopia and Woman on the Edge of Time share similar, deep ecological concerns. In his first newspaper article on the s ubject of Ecotopia, Weston displays his growth-centered culture’s fear of the utopian nation’s anti -growth economy: “Ecotopia still poses a nagging challenge to the underl ying national philosophy of America: evercontinuing progress, the fruit of industrialization for all, a rising Gross National Product” (4). Weston sees Ecotopia’s stable-state sy stem as a nagging challenge because “it means giving up any notions of progress. You just want to get to that stable point and stay there, like a lump” (33). His observations suggest th e deep-seated faith that his US culture has in the myth of progress, while they also censure economic systems that see progress, industrialization, and a rising GNP as unnecessary and unhealthy. What Weston fails to understand about Ecotopia’s economic mode l, however, is its underlying motive to preserve the integrity of ecological systems a nd to fulfill the ethics of ecological equality. He does at least understand the Ecotopian point -of-view, stating “humans were meant to take their modest place in a seamless, stable-state web of living organisms, disturbing that web as little as possi ble” and “People were to be happy not to the extent they dominated their fellow creatures on the earth, but to the extent they lived in balance with

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69 them” (47-48). But Weston’s rhetoric reflects more the attitudes of the growth-focused hegemony. He analyzes Ecotopia’s stable-s tate economy using the doctrines of the capitalist system—a move that neglects th e possibility of a ne w language and philosophy for the stable-state—inevitably condemning th e new system as hopeless. For if Weston’s readers believe, along with the Ecotopian ec onomists who are “highl y regarded in the American nation,” that Ecotopia cannot mainta in a decent “standard of living” with its twenty-hour work week, that Ecotopia’s syst em cannot attract “capital,” and that the nation will suffer “financial collapse,” then they will see Ecotopia’s economic paradigm shift as a failure even if it succeeds (48). Viewed within the context of capitalism, the stable-state system will always fail. Ecotopia narrates the concer ns of deep ecology, then, as it presents the fundamental cha llenges of moving from an ecologically unsustainable and hegemonic economic stru cture to one that devalues economic expansion and works toward Snyder’s true affluence. An ecologically sustainable economic syst em also exists in Piercy’s book, and again the system is one that someone indoctr inated into the capita list myth of progress would find difficult to accept. Connie’s expect ations when first arriving in Mattapoisett demonstrate her faith in a booming capitalist fu ture: “Rocket ships, skyscrapers into the stratosphere, an underground mole world miles deep, glass domes over everything” (62). But opening her eyes she sees instead the village of a bucolic past, prompting her to ask Luciente, “‘You sure we went in the right dire ction? Into the futu re?’” (62). Luciente assents and Connie replies quest ioningly, “‘Forward, into the pa st? Okay, it’s better to live in a green meadow than on 111th Street. But all this striving and struggling to end up in the same old bind’” (64). This sentiment repeats William Weston’s concern that

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70 Ecotopia’s stable-state system is weak because it lacks “progress.” Both protagonists reflect the capitalist tendency to view as backwards the alternative lifeways that do not depend on a constant flow of commodities through markets an d a constant reinvestment of capital into new, marketable stuff. As in Ecotopia Woman on the Edge of Time contributes to the utopian conversations of deep ecol ogy by showing how the ruling economic dogma prevents its followers from envisioning the potentials of ecologically sustainable economic systems. Callenb ach and Piercy’s hopeful messages are communicated by the fact that Weston and Connie ultimately accept these ecotopias as more viable and healthier places to exist. Perception, Community, and Ecocentric Living Besides encouraging a reduction of world population and an economy that disdains the notion of growth, deep ecology supports th e ecological perception of “Organisms as knots in the biospherical net or fi eld of intrinsic relations,” a “ relational, total-field image ” akin to Leopold’s metaphorical tangle of chains (Naess, “The Shallow and the Deep” 151). Such thinking requires a fundament al change in the wa y Western societies perceive the world. Rather than sepa rating humans from the surrounding world, as higher up in an ontological hier archy or as actors upon a weal th of “natural resources,” deep ecologists promote a spiritual epistemol ogy that sees no disconnections between and among species, and even between species and landscapes. In other words, to borrow from Arne Naess, to divide A and B change s the constitutions of both, thus A cannot be said to exist on its own, without B. A self-admitted Buddhist-Animist who de rives his eco-philosophy from Buddhist concepts of organic unity and Animist ideas about the spiritual matrix that connects all life and material (Taylor, “Snyder”), Gary Snyder contributes much to deep ecology’s

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71 philosophical stance on humanity’s fundame ntal and essential embeddedness in the natural world: “Man is but a part of the fa bric of life—dependent on the whole fabric for his very existence” (141). In f act, in “Four Changes” he insi sts that such understanding is necessary to solve the popul ation boom, to limit pollution and consumption, and to restrain the rapid and unsustainable growth of civilization. Indeed, to see the intrinsic connections between the components of natura l systems is also to understand the harsh effects modern human civilization has imposed on the environment, because alterations of ecosystems forced by destru ctive technologies, impulsive residential development, rapid extraction of resources, and so forth, jeopardize the healthy interconnectedness of those systems. For Snyder, such impositions suggest a defective spiritual perception in modern culture, rectified onl y through a fundamental indivi dual and cultural reconnection to the nonhuman world. Callenbach’s ecotopian society comprehends the importance of the perception of interconnectedness that comes with ecologica l understanding, en couraging ecological wisdom at all stages of life. About Ecotopian school chil dren, Weston writes, The experiences of the children are closely tied in with studies of plants, animals and landscape. I have been impresse d with the knowledge that even young children have of such matters —a six-year-old can tell you all about the “ecological niches” of the creatures and plants he encounters in his daily life. He will also know what roots and berries are edible, how to use soap plant, how to carve a pot holder from a branch. (38-39) Further, an Ecotopian ten-year-old know s “how hundreds of species of plants and animals live, both around their schools and in the areas they e xplore on backpacking expeditions” (130). Such knowledge, even in young children, would be taken for granted in an ecologically conscientious society. But traditional education takes for granted conservative pedagogical models, which accordin g to Bowers emphasize “the recovery

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72 (and rediscovery) of the intellectual achieve ments of the past”; “moral and spiritual growth; the ability to participate as an en franchised citizen who bears both freedoms and responsibilities; and the intellectual foundations and skills necessary for earning a living” rather than the knowledge necessary to live with the environment (37-38). Just as ignorant of ecology is the liberal model of education, which focuses on “the progressive nature of social development,” individualism and rational, linear thinking (Bowers 7476). Perhaps Weston writes “ecological niches ” within quotation ma rks because of his readers’ unfamiliarity with the term. To be sure, their Western education has not accounted for ecology in the same way the Ecotopi ans’ has. In fact, Ecotopian adults can be heard saying, “‘ Knowing yourself as an animal creature on the earth, as we do. It can feel more comfortable than [ Weston’s ] kind of life ’” (87-88) and “‘ We don’t think in terms of ‘things,’ there’s no such th ing as a thing—there are only systems ’” (88). Ecotopians thus emphasize ecological understand ing and an essentially spiritual thinking rooted in, as the critic Jim Dwyer notes, “Native American and pagan cosmology,” which “inspires people to consider themselves intr insic parts of nature and act accordingly” (“ Ecotopia ”). Like Ecotopia Woman on the Edge of Time demonstrates an awareness of ecological connectedness through describing the children’s educa tion. Indeed, that Mattapoisett’s community gardens follow the principles of organic gardening—“tomato plants growing with rose bushes and onions, pansies and bean plan ts”—attests to the ecological conscience of the town’s residents (122). In addition, the rite-of-passage for Mattapoisett’s children to become full members of the community involves their spending one week in the woods by themselves showing that the ecotopian town views

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73 wilderness as community rather than as comm odity. And if a society regards nature as a part of its community being—enough, in fact, to make the woods centr al to its adulthood rituals—then it has developed a clear, symbio tic relationship with the land. On the contrary, if a society sees the land as a pr ovider of economically valuable and infinite resources, then it adheres to modern and unsus tainable images of nature as commodity. By making experience in nature a significant part of ch ildhood education, Ecotopia and Mattapoisett participate in the deep ecologica l desire to establish ecologically conscious ways of knowing and ways of interconnected being. Along with encouraging new perceptions of the natural world and humanity’s place in it, Ecotopia and Woman on the Edge of Time generate further awareness of more sustainable models of community. Naess s ees as an ecological guideline the need to cultivate life in community. However, fo r the deep ecologist, as with Leopold, community ties go beyond mere social interac tion. A community, or a total ecological field, is a life system, even a form of life. And because “The vulnerability of a form of life is roughly proportional to th e weight of influences from afar, from outside the local region in which that form has obtained an eco logical equilibrium,” our current social and economic tendencies to import and export co mmodities and consumer ways of life disturb the autonomous characte r of natural systems—includi ng the system of the self (Naess, “The Shallow and the Deep” 153). The results are displaced individuals living in ecosystems destabilized as a result of ecologi cally disruptive practices. To solve this problem, Naess advocates “efforts to strength en local self-government and material and mental self-sufficiency” (154).

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74 Snyder supports a similar move toward so cial and ecological autonomy: “Division by natural and cultural boundari es rather than arbitrary political boundaries” and “landuse being sensitive to the pr operties of each region” (147) Such bioregional thought pervades contemporary environmentalist discussi ons. Orr believes we must “Use locally available resources,” “Rebuild local a nd regional economies,” and “Rebuild strong, participatory communities” in order to achieve ecological sustainability (161). On the subject of pedagogy, Bowers advocates a bioreg ional curriculum, one which studies “the plants, animals, soils, sources of water, economic and technologi cal practices, and the community of memory that encodes the coll ective wisdom about both past mistakes and sustainable practices” (175). Collectively, what these environmental thinkers promote is a worldview that is rooted in the strength of local community dynamics and the lessons of community and natural history, as well as in adopting life practices specific to local regions. As Naess, Snyder, Orr, and Bowers th eorize the strengths of community and bioregional autonomy, so do Callenbach and Pier cy speculate on these strengths in their science fiction narratives. Callenbach does so in three ways. First, all Ecotopian food, energy, and building materials are locally harv ested, and the nature of this practice is such that local systems remain healthy and foreign systems remain untouched—at least by Ecotopians. Second, in terms of self community, and bior egionality, Weston eventually becomes aware of his disconnected ness from the community and from place. He writes, “ I’m beginning to see that to an Ecotopi an, who always has a strong collective base to return to, a place and the people of that place, my existence must seem pathetically insecure ” (138). When Weston writes “ I have never cried about it. But

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75 maybe I should ,” Callenbach issues a compelling reque st for readers to reevaluate their own disconnectedness and to envision life in community, with a strong sense of place (138). Finally, Ecotopia participates in Naess’s a nd Snyder’s political calls to decentralize the operations of local regions. Explaining the nation’s move, Weston writes, “the Ecotopians largel y dismantled their national ta x and spending system, and local communities regained control over all basi c life systems” (67). The change benefits Ecotopian life in many ways: communities arrange their lives more deliberately, population density drops, medi cal services improve, a nd previously threatened ecosystems flourish. Mattapoisett is also communally and bi oregionally oriented, demonstrating the ecological value of strong community and bi oregional networks. Like Ecotopia, the village is “‘Ownfed,’” “‘Self-sufficient as possi ble in proteins’” (64) Further, sense of place matters to the inhabitants of Mattapois ett. As Jackrabbit, one of the town’s dwellers, says, “‘A sense of land, of village and base and family. We’re strongly rooted’” (116). On this point, one might th ink Mattapoisett is Ecot opia, that had Piercy given Connie Ramos a journal in which to wr ite her reflections, she would have written something similar to Weston’s lament about feeling displaced. To be sure, Connie does wish her daughter could grow up in Mattapoise tt. And finally, as members of a bioregion with limited resources, Mattapoisett’s inhab itants “see [themselves] as partners with water, air, birds, fish, trees,” a worldvie w strongly aligned with Leopold’s ecological conscience (118). A key goal for deep ecologists—the reason for reducing population, slowing economic growth, adopting spiritual perceptions of connectedness, and thinking in terms

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76 of bioregion—is, to borrow from the su stainable community planners Mathis Wackernagel and William Rees, to limit human ity’s “ecological footprint.” Wackernagel and Rees write, “there is wide agreement that the Earth’s ecosystems cannot sustain current levels of economic and material consumption” (1). Naess and Snyder share this view. They, along with other deep ecologi sts, hope to “cultivate an ecological consciousness” that will reve rse the growth and consumer tendencies of Western culture and thus lessen human influence on the environment (Devall and Sessions ix). Ecotopia and Woman on the Edge of Time share deep ecological sentim ents on dwelling lightly and contribute intellectually to th e deep ecological desire to reduce human impact on the Earth. Both Ecotopia and Mattapoisett are recy cling societies, with the latter composting and reusing everything—the at titude being that nothing can be thrown away on a round world. Dwelling lightly in these ecotopias, though, goes beyond recycling and into profound moral and philosophica l principles. What matters most to Ecotopians, according to Weston, “ is the aspiration to li ve in balance with nature, ‘walk lightly on the land,’ treat the earth as a mother ” (32). With this moral prin ciple as the core paradigm of social practice—indeed, in direct challeng e to the core paradigm of Western society, which is to live in opposition to nature—E cotopians approach living with ecological balance as their main objective. Mattapoisett, like Ecotopia, roots itself in practices that inherently challenge Western modes of existence, of consumption and wastefulness. Critiquing the Cartesian model of being, Bolivar, a key spokesperson for social opinion in Mattapoisett, states, “I guess I see the original division of labor that first dichotomy, as enabling later divvies into haves and have -nots, powerful and powerless, enjoyers and workers, rapists and victims. The patriarcha l mind/body split turned the body to machine

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77 and the rest of the universe into booty on which the will could run rampant, using, discarding, destroying.” (203) Here, Bolivar sums up the critical stance of the ecotopian community. Western models of being, which include the mind/body a nd human/nature split, have disconnected humans from the ecology within which we exis t. This separation justifies environmental exploitation, and instead of dwelling lightly we reside uns ustainably. As a community that thinks critically about such fundament al ideas, Mattapoisett initiates a thoroughgoing revision of Western dichotomie s, electing to live in opposit ion to modern, technocratic ways and in favor of more sust ainable modes of existence. For all of these reasons, Ecotopia and Woman on the Edge of Time serve the visions of deep ecology. Individually, each te xt narrates the revisionary ideas of deep ecology, and they do so in a utopian manner, always insisting upon the difference between their respective ecot opian societies and the known Western world. Together, these texts demonstrate the value of ecotopi an science fiction for communicating and exploring the changes advocated by deep eco logists. It is vital to understand the contribution of these narratives to the ecolo gical conscience and the cultural push toward ecological sustainability. This is not to ignor e their weaknesses in narrative, in argument, or in the feasibility of thei r propositions. Rather, to focus on these ecotopian texts and the ecological ideas they support is to ge nerate important ques tions about how we currently treat the Earth and crucial ideas about how we should treat it. Deep Ecology and the Dys(eco)topian Visions of John Brunner While ecotopian fiction occupies an im portant place in deep ecology, both for its ecologically conscious visions and for its cultural work, its opposite—dys(eco)topian fiction—holds similar value. According to Lyman Tower Sargent, a dystopian narrative

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78 describes in detail a non-existent society “ normally located in time and space that the author intended a contemporaneous reader to view as considerably worse than the society in which the reader lived” (9). Despite its glumness, dystopian narrative maintains the utopian impulse. As Moylan notes, “a dystopian text can be seen as utopian in tendency if in its portrayal of the ‘bad place’ it suggest s (even if indirectly) or at least stimulates the potential for an effective challenge and po ssibly change by virtue of human efforts” ( Scraps 156). Dystopian works fuel challenge s to unethical systems of power and domination by rendering a societ y that is not only worse than that in which the reader lives, but also by portraying a wo rld where the reader might live if steps are not taken to change these systems. Texts become dys(eco)topian in the same way that texts become ecotopian—that is, when the majority of their critiques center on issues vital to ec ological health. John Brunner’s Stand on Zanzibar (1968) and The Sheep Look Up (1972) both contain such elements of environmentalist concern. Stand on Zanzibar focuses on overpopulation and modern economic doctrine and The Sheep Look Up portrays a world damaged by Western consumption habits, corporate profit eering, and the absence of deep ecology’s total-field thinking. Brunner’s interests are indeed the in terests of deep ecology; his visions of the future are deep ecology’s night mares. My question in this section follows from the argument of the previous section: If ecotopian fiction informs and reflects deep ecology by speculating on utopian possibilitie s through a common ecocritical lens, then does dystopian fiction inform and reflect d eep ecology in its own ways? Certainly, the worlds of Callenbach and Piercy motivate the ecotopian dream and are thus more attractive than dystopian fantasies for in spiring change. But dys(eco)topia offers

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79 something ecotopia cannot: extended speculations on the social and ecological states that deep ecology aims to avoid. Dys(eco)topi an texts stage the frightening worlds made possible by continuing certain present social and economic behaviors; they extrapolate their futures based on relevant in terpretations of the now. Thus this type of fiction is a powerful rhetorical tool for stimulating new, more ecologically conscious ways of thinking and being. Stand on Zanzibar Recognizing that Stand on Zanzibar focuses not on “individual agency and linear narratives of ecological fall a nd recovery” but instead “on th e ways that various power structures shape and limit cultural attitude s about ecosocial problems,” Neal Bukeavich understands the complexity of Brunner’s dys(eco )topian project (54). Bukeavich writes, “ Stand on Zanzibar offers an ecological insight unique to its time: namely, that ecosocial crises arise from combinations of mutual ly reinforcing factors, including luxury consumption, resource exhaustion, a nd multinational capitalism” (55). Ecotopia and Woman on the Edge of Time offer similar insights, implicitly critiquing Western society’s anti-ecological habits by e nvisioning ecotopian alternatives as well as explicitly contrasting these habits with the alternatives. However, wh ile the ecotopias interrelate such habits—identifying overpopul ation as related to an inadequate economic worldview stemming from an ideology of human/human and human/nature fr acture—their utopian motivation to imagine better alternatives limits their capacity to explore the political and cultural dynamics of the ecological problems, like overpopulation, th at they want to avert. As demonstrated earlier, population reduction is a key interest of both Ecotopia and Woman on the Edge of Time as well as of deep ecology. Ecotopians make it a national

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80 goal to decrease population; Ma ttapoisett controls population scientifically, growing its future generations in brooders; and deep ecol ogy holds as one of its eight basic principles that “The flourishing of human life and culture s is compatible with a substantial decrease of the human population. The flourishing of nonhuman life requires such a decrease” (Devall and Sessions 70). Stand on Zanzibar ’s insights into the overpopulation question soften deep ecology’s and ecotopia’s str ong, if not dogmatic, a ttention to population controls by highlighting the growth economy and Western consumption habits as much more detrimental than overpopulation to ecologi cal health and by draw ing attention to the ethical dilemmas inherent in controlling population. Similar to the ecotopias, Stand on Zanzibar ultimately addresses the range of issues that concern deep ecologists, from overpopulation to the ecological pressures brought on by certain social and personal habits. Only, because it is a dystopia that fleshes out even the problems of utopian fantasies, Brunner’s novel offers the critical counterpoint deep ecology needs in order to reconsider its positi on on world population. Stand on Zanzibar challenges deep ecology’s emphasis on population reduction and encourages critical read ers not to deemphasize the glob al harm of overpopulation but to recognize Western economic doctrine as a greater threat. Human overcrowding jeopardizes appropriate life-space requireme nts for other species but so does the encroachment of an economic system that liq uidates this life-space in the name of profit and progress. In the novel, General Techni cs (GT), a multinational corporation, wishes to transform a small, peaceful, and economi cally disadvantaged African nation named Beninia into a market and processing cen ter for its offshore mining project. As Bukeavich notes, “the Beninian enterprise enacts a kind of econo mic imperialism that

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81 renders it unlikely to initiate any revolutiona ry shift in global environmental politics” (59). This brand of corporate interest demonstrates the economy that deep ecology targets: elite nations pushi ng “third world” countries to participate in their market interests and fantasies of a global consum er society while erasing any chance of developing alternative economic structures that are more environmentally sustainable. It is such an economy and the culture it suppor ts, not overpopulation in itself, that wreaks the ecological havoc; and this insigh t is the specific contribution of Stand on Zanzibar to deep ecology’s population dialogue. When th e novel’s narrator writes, “The size of planet Earth was . large enough, so far. Beninia was pitted and pendulumed, and the walls were closing in,” he acknowledges a linkage between natural limits and the mythology of nature’s bounty that informs th e growth economy (12). With the initiation of GT’s scheme, Beninia will be swept into an economic system that not only gobbles up existing social relations—and in Beninia’s case, peaceful social relations—but also exhausts nonhuman nature. For, nowhere in GT’s plan is there a discussion of developing an economy that will lift Beninia out of poverty without sacrificing its already limited resource base. Throughout Stand on Zanzibar Brunner gives readers fragments of the consumer culture that economic projects such as General Technic’s Beninia plan encourage. It is a culture deep ecology would find harrowing in contrast to ecotopian images of strong local communities and ecologically sustainable ways of living. Certainly, it is the kind of negative culture against which Ecotopia and Mattapoisett define th emselves; only, as a dystopia, Brunner’s work fully explores this culture. Community as a dynamic collection of participating individuals with unique sens es of self and place does not exist in the mass

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82 culture of Stand on Zanzibar Instead, the corporate state deforms social interaction and individual uniqueness, grat ifying capitalist fantasies of a culture unified in its consumption habits. Images of Mr. and Mrs. Everywhere—“construct identities, the new century’s equivalent of the Joneses”—fill TV screens sold by the media giant Engrelay Satelserv, allowing viewers to see themselves in a variety of more desirable places ( Stand 9). And a “Colliderscope” “turns your drab daily environment into a marvelous mystery” (172). These simulation technologies demons trate a point made in the novel by Chad Mulligan, one of the characters who is critical of the society: “‘the whole of modern socalled civilized existence is an attempt to de ny reality insofar as it exists’” (251). Here, the reality denied is a present terrible re ality made possible by the hegemony’s ignorance of the environmental and social consequences of its actions. Purposefully blind to the richness of difference, the corporate state promotes cultural and individual homogeneity. S ong lyrics in Brunner’s novel show this: Like the good Lord God in the Valley of Bones Engrelay Satelserv made some people called Jones. They were not alive and they were not dead— They were ee-magi-nary but always ahead. What was remarkably and uniquely new— A gadget on the set made them look like you! Watching their sets in a kind of a trance Were people in Mexico, people in France. They don’t chase Jones but the dreams are the same— Mr. and Mrs. Everywhere, that’s the right name! Herr und Frau Uberall or les Partout A gadget on the set makes them look like you. (309) Mr. and Mrs. Everywhere provide the culture of Stand on Zanzibar with the type of coopted utopian experience Moylan discusses, a Disney-esque escap e to the Moon, Mount Everest, or Martinique, all freed of soci al and environmental interaction (Brunner, Stand 309). For Moylan, in the mid-twentieth centur y, utopian visions—originally articulations

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83 opposing “the affirmative culture maintained by dominant ideology” —dissolved into the corporate-driven utopias of shoppi ng malls and the Disney empire ( Demand 1). Driven by capital, utopia weakened into visions of “pleasurable weekends, Christmas dreams, and goods purchased weekly in the pleasur e-dome shopping malls of suburbia,” all visions compatible with grow th-centered, capitalist ideology (8). In Brunner’s novel, under the hegemony of this corporate media co mplex, political differenc e is nullified as people tune in to mass opinion. The simulated experience of people and place is only one nightmare scenario for deep ecology, a nightmare that has become a ll too real in contemporary society. Another has to do with the absence of wilderness in the dystopian worl d. As simulated culture has replaced genuine social relations in Brunner’s dystopia, simulated natu re has replaced the natural world. Synthetic grass carpets Genera l Technics headquarter s, and a clinic in London has a floor “covered by tiles with a desi gn of dead leaves embedded under a clear plastic surface” (158). Ironically, this “only to uch in the place which suggested nature” is trampled, “a failure,” the leaves disappearing “behind a mist of scratches and scrapes, the legacy of uncountable feet that had crossed th e room” (159). Given that this clinic is one pregnant women must visit to be eugenically tested, the results dictating whether they must abort, the trampled fl oor symbolizes both population pressure and the ecological harm such pressure induces. Stand on Zanzibar does not treat the human/nature disconnect and the loss of wilderness only symbolically. Whales are extinct and Manhattan is under a dome; a character reflects on “when he last saw the stars” and “got wet in the rain” (262); a cosmetics manufacturer brags, “‘we have taken control of our entire environment, and

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84 what we choose by way of fashion and cosm etics matches that achievement’” (60). Indeed, Brunner’s novel presents a postnatu ral world, McKibben’s “end of nature” in which the Western way of life “now blows its smoke over every inch of the globe” (60). McKibben, like Brunner, sees modern economic doc trine as the biggest threat to ecology. “There is no place on the planet now,” sa ys McKibben, “that does not fall under the enchantment of our images of the good life” (xxii). The “good life” is a life of consumption, and ultimately the life th at makes overpopulation a serious threat. Stand on Zanzibar considers the growth economy a nd Western consumer culture to be the most detrimental pressures to global ec ological and social h ealth, and it makes this claim stronger by emphasizing population contro l as a directive far more unethical to institute than changing economic policy and pe rsonal habits. The ecotopias that narrate the concerns of deep ecology treat ov erpopulation and excessive production and consumption as equally solvable problems but Brunner’s work argues otherwise. Stand on Zanzibar treats population control as an ethi cal quandary. Alongside the consumer ideology broadcasted globally in Brunner’s dysto pia is a praise of e ugenic legislation. A “Greater New York Times editorial slot” hails Puerto Rico for cracking down on population growth and “for joining the major ity of us who have seen the danger [of overpopulation] coming and resolved to put up with the minor inconveniences it entails when we decide to control the human elements of the big scene we inhabit” (15-16). Such minor inconveniences in clude a cultural stigma on ex cessive fertility, mandatory abortion, and other top-down methods of en forcing obedience to government-mandated controls.

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85 Oddly, governments in Stand on Zanzibar work to cut population growth while allowing economic growth to continue unchecked. Stand on Zanzibar does not discount the importance of a declining population for social and ecological health, but it does imagine the danger of treating overpopulati on and Western economic doctrine as equally accountable for environmental crisis. Given the hegemony of an economic system that lacks a financial incentive to cr itique and change itself, popular attention to global social and ecological collapse—an attention driv en by this economy’s media complex—will turn toward overpopulation as the primary ecol ogical threat, thus ab solving the capitalist economy from its environmentally hazardous global expansion. The Sheep Look Up If Stand on Zanzibar is Brunner’s indictment of th e growth economy and consumer ideology as sources of ecologi cal and social peril, then The Sheep Look Up is his most thorough exploration of the pe rvasiveness and effect of this ideology. As in Stand on Zanzibar The Sheep Look Up imagines a world in which Western ideas about economic growth, mass consumption, and the human/nature disconnect play out as far as the power structure wishes, despite environmenta l and social injustices. But while Stand on Zanzibar makes a concerted effort to upset the myth that human overpopulation is as responsible for ecological and social breakdown as Western economic doctrine, The Sheep Look Up is less concerned with overpopulati on and instead surveys what is harmful in modern social, economic, and philos ophical paradigms. It expresses concerns about loss of community, the effects of unc hecked economic growth, and the ignorance in modern society of ecologica l thinking, as it also explores contrasting strategies for environmentalist action.

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86 The Sheep Look Up details the effects of a United States military hallucinogen leakage. Countries whose ci tizens consume a synthetic food produced in the area of the leak have mass rioting. The military’s cover up of the chemical spill is one of several attempts by the US government and the corpor ations it supports to ignore their roles in bringing on ecological disaster. Pesticide-re sistant worms decimate crops worldwide, and nearly all Americans suffer from ailmen ts caused by environmental contaminants. Fighting to expose the military, the governme nt, and corporations, environmentalist and cult figure Austin Train condemns the emergi ng violent environmentalist radicalism and divulges the misdeeds of the higher powers. Fo r the latter, Train is labeled subversive by the right-wing US president, Prexy. Fals ely accused of kidnappi ng the son of Roland Bamberley—an opportunist businessman whose company manufactures water filters and whose brother, Jacob, manufactured the poiso ned food—Train is put on trial publicly and uses the opportunity to address his viewing audience with a plea: “‘at all costs, to me, to anyone, at all costs if the human race is to survive, the forcible exportation of the way of life invented by these stupid men must . be . stopped ’” (353). Shor tly after this declaration, Prexy orders Train to be cut off, and the court house crumbles from a bomb built by one of the real kidnappers. The novel ends in a fury of American civil disorder, chaos one character claims fulfills his compute r-generated forecast of “the best thing we can do to ensure a long, happy, healthy future for mankind” (363). “We can just about restore the balance of the ecology, the biosphe re, and so on—in other words, we can live within our means instead of on an unrepayab le overdraft, as we’ve been doing for the past half century,” says Dr. Thomas Grey, “if we exterminate the two hundred million most extravagant and wasteful of our species” (363).

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87 The Sheep Look Up contributes to the philosophy of deep ecology. Implicitly through its dystopian rhetorical strategy and explicitly through Austin Train, it offers ecocentric critiques of a range of Western ideologies and practic es. One of its key critiques is of the type of thinking that declares the infe riority of the nonhuman world to humans. The novel opens with a poem that announces, The day shall dawn when never child but may Go forth upon the sward secure to play. No cruel wolves shall trespass in their nooks, Their lore of lions shall co me from picture-books. (2) The domestication of wilderness celebrated here is an uncritical utopian ideal imagined and put into practice historic ally in Western culture. Domesticating nature for human purposes is a characteristic of the modern ideology Brunner and deep ecology challenge.3 It is rooted in Christia n conceptions of wild nature as evil to be conquered as well as in la ter ideas of taming wilderness for material progress. This is the same ideology that Ca llenbach and Piercy imagine overcoming with new economic and spiritual models. Agains t such an ideology of human supremacy, deep ecology encourages a knowledge of a nd a respect for natural biodiversity. In The Sheep Look Up Austin Train calls himself a “commensalist,” building his environmentalist philosophy on the idea that “y ou and your dog, and the flea on the dog’s back, and the cow and the horse and the jack rabbit and the gopher and the nematode and the paramecium and the spirohete all sit down to the same table in the end” (18-19). Such a philosophy challenges the human/na ture hierarchy on which are based anthropocentric visions of tami ng and developing wilderness. 3 For a discussion of the origins of taming wilderness as a Western ideology see Nash.

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88 After the celebratory poem of human arr ogance that begins his novel, Brunner introduces a scene critical of the anti-wilder ness vision on which the poem rejoices. In a dislocating incident that woul d initially reinforce the fear of carnivorous nature in any reader of the novel’s opening poem, a man finds himself hunted by wild animals “In broad daylight on the Santa Monica freeway” (3). Petrified, a nd with “monstrous menacing beasts edging closer,” the man hi des from cougars, jaguars, cobras, falcons, and barracudas—the beasts that the writer of the opening poem wishes to relegate to children’s fairy tales (3). Tryi ng to run, the man is killed by a stingray. Is this a scene of some science fictional, fantastical Californi a now taken over by the savage creatures the poem demonizes? No. The beasts are mere ly names of cars; the predation often associated with wild nature is given a different look, an eco critical reevaluation demonstrating that industrial society, not wilderness, is the threat to life. With the counterpoint between the introductory poem and the ensuing scene of industrial carnage, Brunner introduces early in the novel the dynami c between the Wester n industrial system and the voices of dissent against this system that gives his dys(eco )topia its rhetorical power. The Sheep Look Up links global ecological disaster to Western habits that have grown from a philosophy of ma n as conqueror, to borrow Le opold’s concept, instead of man as biotic citizen. Though this ignorance of ecological connections enables industrial “progress” in Brunner’s novel, it ultimatel y, as Brunner shows, disables ecological systems and creates an atmosphere conduciv e only to corporate profiteering. Lead, chemical byproducts of various industries, and DDT have created the poisoned world imagined by Rachel Carson in Silent Spring As a result, clean oxygen, water, and

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89 filtermasks are commodities in The Sheep Look Up purchased from vending machines. And a food producer, Puritan Foods, uses the pub lic’s growing fear of pollution to market falsely its brand of “uncontaminated” f ood. The unchallenged corporate state in The Sheep Look Up —due not to a lack of dissenters bu t to government efforts to repress opposition—exposes an odd capitalist dynamic: th e omnipresent (ill)l ogic of capitalism permits big industry to profit from its own poor environmental record, but in no way are the resulting clean-up industries alteri ng their profit motive and developing an ecologically conscious economy, despite th e obvious necessity to do so. As one character states, “‘they shit in the water until it’s dangerous to drink, then make a fucking fortune out of selling us gadgets to purify it again’” (187). Similar to Stand on Zanzibar the corporate offices in The Sheep Look Up boast of man’s containment of nature: “cosmoramic pr ojections,” simulated views of the outside world “Superior to the natural article,” “pre vent the intrusion of untasteful exterior reality” (133). Again, this exte rior reality represents McKibb en’s postnatural world at its dystopian extreme, demonstrating deep ecology ’s fear of the eff ects of human dominion and economic imposition on ecology and its anxi eties over loss of life. Deep ecology recognizes intimate, spiritual connections be tween all forms of life, connections that allow for self-realization among all species Callenbach’s Ecotopia and Piercy’s Mattapoisett strive to nurtur e these connections. Fields and natural gardens serve as places for reflection and identity building. In Brunner’s world, however, exterior space is poisoned, lifeless but for “rodent” species w hose extreme populations are due to the loss of biodiversity. A child in Br unner’s novel cuts her foot while playing in an old garbage

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90 dump; a woman dies from exposure to pollutants at the beach. In such an atmosphere, fostering a human-nature connection and an ecological conscience becomes improbable. Influenced by Austin Train, the “Trainites” of The Sheep Look Up mount a genuine attack on Western philosophi c and economic paradigms. A loosely organized group manifesting itself shortly after Vietnam “as the result of some telepathic trigger,” Trainites live out a number of environmentally sustainable practices in small collectives called wats (77). As if taking a cue from d eep ecologists Arne Naess and Gary Snyder, Decimus—the man killed in the opening scene—is a Trainite who promoted, as Naess would say, a “global solidarity of lifestyle” (“Deep Ecology and Lifestyle” 260): “His principle, at the Colorado wat, was thirdworld oriented; his community grew its own food, or tried to—crops had a nasty habit of failing because of wind-borne defoliants or industrial contaminants in the rain—and lik ewise wove its own cloth, while its chief source of income lay in handicrafts” ( Sheep 34). The presence of Trainite wats gives Brunner’s novel a utopian quality. Wats are Br unner’s Ecotopias or Mattapoisetts, spaces apparently insulated from what is “Out Ther e,” from “death and destruction” and “poison in the rain,” as one character thinks (171). But what makes The Sheep Look Up differ from Ecotopia and Woman on the Edge of Time —what makes the wats objects of a dys(eco)topian narrative rather than places of ecotopian hope—is that at the moment of optimism the Out There breaks through the insula tion and intrudes upon utopian space. Despite the Trainite ecological conscience and foresight, the wa ts cannot keep acid rain at bay, nor can they prevent the intrusion of a crop-threaten ing worm imported into the United States by a careless corporation.

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91 Brunner uses the wats to insist on the potential for utopian spaces and utopian ideals to elicit cultural work in the world outside of those spaces. His exploration into this potential is not simplistic and unidirectional, though. Instead, The Sheep Look Up speculates on contrasting ways environmentalist, “Trainite” opposition—influenced in different ways by ecotopian social dreaming—can manifest itself in mainstream culture. The first of these narratives shows the j ournalist Peg Mankiewicz becoming discouraged with the polluted and corrupt state of modern life. He r extended investigation of Decimus’s death draws the ire of her editor, Mel Torrence, who is hostile to the Trainites. Mel views Trainite resistan ce, the most violent of wh ich Mel carelessly and wrongly associates with Train’s followers, as a “‘nui sance’” (92). As Mel states, “‘They block traffic, they foul up business, they comm it sabotage, they’ve even gone as far as murder—‘” (92). Seeing the merit in such dissent, the falsity of Mel’s allegations of murder, and the fact that the re al killers “‘are the people who are ruining the world to line their pockets,’” Peg quits the newspaper and h eads to the Colorado wat (93). Encouraged by the undemanding and harmonious way of life at the wat, but ultimately dissatisfied with its people’s lack of civi c engagement with the world Ou t There, Peg leaves to carry on the fight started by Austin and Decimus. The Colorado wat is indeed an ecotopian space, but for Peg, such a space is not enough in a world in need of change. In the end, she channels her energies into critical wr iting, researching and reve aling the effects of rich nations on poorer nations. With such expos ures, she hopes to bring about change. While Peg’s story is one in which an individual draws inspiration from an ecotopian ideology and moves into the wo rld to institute positive change through journalism, the second narrative that demonstr ates the real potent ial of ecotopia is

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92 different. Like Peg, Hugh Pettingill becomes disgruntled with the state of society. Speaking out against his adoptive father Jacob Bamberley, Hugh voices the anger of many in the novel: “Because of you and people like you we sit he re in the richest country in the world surrounded by sick kids—[. .] You and your ancestors treated the world like a fucking great toilet bowl. You shat in it and boasted about the mess you’d made. And now it’s full and overflowing, and you ’re fat and happy and black kids are going crazy to keep you rich. Goodbye! ” (112) Hugh also flees to the Colorado wat, but in stead of seeing the a ggressive activism he associates with Trainites, he witnesses a community “rehearsing for tomorrow, devising a viable lifestyle by trial and error” (148). But Hugh wants action now, pistols and bombs (149). He leaves the wat and joins a sma ll group of activists who employ the violent resistance he desires, including kidna pping Roland Bamberley’s son Hector and demanding for ransom that Roland freely distribute twenty-thousand water filters to citizens. The wats in The Sheep Look Up thus symbolize ecotopian intellectual space, space similar to what deep ecology creates in its ecotopian dreaming. Peg and Hugh admire the ideals of the wat; they are both s eeking alternative lifesty les that move away from the dystopian state. However, both desi re to transform dystopia. Peg’s tactic is disclosure, getting information Out There a nd hoping for change by educating people. Hugh’s tactic is direct action, physically c onfronting those who have made modern life unsustainable. Neither of these approaches ar e “shallow,” in Naess’s sense of that word. Nor do they prefigure 1980s third-wave e nvironmentalism, which, according to Bill Devall, “was based on the principle that en vironmental experts, usually lawyers and scientists, could and should ne gotiate directly with corpora tions and government agencies to achieve compromises on pollution controls energy policies, and other environmental

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93 issues, preferably using the ‘market’ mechanism” (“Deep Ecology and Radical Environmentalism” 55). Instead, Peg and Hugh’s methods are radical methods, “deep” methods that do not compromise with the power structure but instead struggle to challenge and overturn it s basic assumptions. Deep ecology similarly influences uncompromising resistance to the antienvironmental status quo. Its intellectual fi gures include not only Naess and Snyder, but also early spokesmen for social and pers onal change Henry David Thoreau and Walt Whitman, sense of place voices Mary Austin and Anne Dillard, radical ecologists Sears and Frank Egler, and social critics Vanda na Shiva and Dolores LaChapelle. Though several of these thinke rs come before the solidificati on of deep ecology in the early 1980s, they all speak, in varying degrees, for th e basic principles deep ecologists support: human harmony with nature, the intrinsic wo rth of nature, simplicity in life ways, understanding of the Earth’s limited resource capacity, non-domineering science, and bioregionalism. Represented in The Sheep Look Up by Peg, Decimus, and Train, these intellectual figures strive in their writings to influence a deep ecological conscience. Hugh’s methods of dissent, while often t oo aggressive and thus not representative of the nonviolent spirit of deep ecolo gy and Leopold’s ecological conscience, nevertheless do dramatize another activist wing influenced by deep ecological, ecotopian values. Devall cites Earth First!, Greenpeace, and the Sea Shepherd Society as organizations that have used acts of ecotag e to undermine anti-environmental institutions (“Deep Ecology and Radical Environmentalism” 57-58). As a dystopian text, Brunner’s novel cannot imagine the success of such dissent ing actions against the power structure. Instead, in The Sheep Look Up Brunner’s dystopian focus brings him to imagine dissent

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94 in its worst state of uncontrolled violence acted out by those who “wanted to wreck and burn and kill” ( Sheep 123). However, the novel does not condemn all forms of active opposition. To be sure, Austin Train supports demonstrators while he condemns violent radicals; he frets, “‘Suppose someone deci des a whole city is offending against the biosphere, and pulls the plug on a nuclear bomb’” (40). Rath er, the manifestations of extremist pandemonium in Brunner’s work illustra te social disorder that is a symptom of the failure of the hegemony to open a dialogue with critical groups. Thus, Hugh’s pistols and bombs emerge only after Train’s rhetoric and Trainite demonstrations fail to get the attention of the political and economic hegemony. Conclusion As Wegner suggests, imaginary communities “a re real [. .] in that they have material, pedagogical, and ultimately polit ical effects, shaping the ways people understand and, as a consequence, act in their wo rlds” (xvi). Ecotopian fiction is a place where deep ecology finds its “reality,” its motivating space for ideological change. Ecotopia is a space for acting out and testing th e changes deep ecology theorizes. In this space, nature is not some Disneyesque utopian fantasy of lions, birds, and humans living together in harmony. Such would be the imposition of misinformed human ideals upon the natural world, an anthropocentric bias. Rather, ecotopia is a place where humans live in nature, doing their best to exist unobtrusively as part of something bigger, as one part of a complex ecology. Doing this requires ne w patterns of being that reduce the human footprint and allow for the flourishing of a ll species—deep ecology’s ultimate goal. New rituals and new pedagogical models emerge in ecotopia. More sustainable economic practices prevail over the old, modern faith in capital growth and consumption. Political

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95 decisions are localized and all people are encouraged to pa rticipate in the governmental process. Furthermore, while it is not a vehicle fo r fully imagining new social and economic methods informed by an ecological conscience dys(eco)topia nevertheless is a valuable project to which deep ecology must pay atten tion. As literary depictions of ecological and social crises, Brunner’s novels shape our understanding of the dynamics of worlds opposite those of Callenbach’s and Piercy’s. An extreme faith in the growth economy, a culturally enforced homogenization, and an authoritative government and corporate leadership inhibit the possi bility of new patterns of being. Without ecotopian dreaming—or, in the case of The Sheep Look Up with ecotopian dreaming present but dismissed and criminalized—damaging systems ar e allowed to flourish at the expense of ecological and social relations.

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96 CHAPTER 5 ECOFEMINIST SCIENCE FICTION Ecofeminism is the body of ecocritical t hought that makes connections between the patriarchal oppression of women and the modern will to dominate nature. As the philosopher Karen J. Warren notes, Western patr iarchy sustains an oppressive conceptual framework that justifies th e domination and subordination of women by men. The “logic of domination” inherent in this conceptual framework legitimates inequalities between men and women and promotes the oppositional pair male/female, placing a higher value on the former category (47). The superiority gr anted to males in this ideological system justifies the use of power to subordinate fe males and permits a privileged socio-economic and cultural stance for males. For Warren and other ecofeminists the similarities between the patriarchal logic that permits the oppressi on of women and the logic that permits the domination and subordination of nature cannot go unnoticed in the projects of feminism and environmentalism. In fact, as Greta Gaard asserts in her anthology Ecofeminism: Women, Animals, Nature “no attempt to liberate women (or any other oppressed group) will be successful without an equal attemp t to liberate nature” (1). The logic of domination embraced by patriarchy licenses men not only to be above and more valuable than women but also to treat nature the same way. The hierarchal, dualistic, and essentialist structures of th e logic of domination locate cultu re on the same plane as men and nature on the same plane as women, th e subordinate category. Thus, the oppression of women by men and of nature by culture ar e products of the same logic. Dismantling this logic is the philosophical project of ecofeminism.

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97 Science fiction’s role in feminist theo ry has been well docum ented; the critical work of scholars like Sarah Lefanu, Marl een S. Barr, and Jenny Wolmark open up a space in SF studies for eco feminist inquiry as well. T hough not speaking as ecofeminist critics, Lefanu, Barr, and Wolmark all declar e the basic value of science fiction to explore, articulate, and theorize feminism. In Feminism and Science Fiction Lefanu explores “the question of whet her science fiction, despite its preponderantly male bias, offers a freedom to women writers, in terms of style as well as content, that is not available in mainstream fiction,” concl uding that SF does provide a unique narrative opportunity for writers engaged in an emanci patory project (2). For Lefanu, science fiction permits a space for the deconstruc tion of patriarchal certainties and the construction of female subjects—both important feminist projects, whether in narrative or in socio-political praxis (23). Similarly, Barr’s Feminist Fabulation explores how “feminist SF” (a term she finds “inadequate,” because difference, not science, “is at the heart of feminist SF”) works to display the viability of nonpatriarchal paradigms against the patriarchal master narrative (3). Finally, Wolmark argues, “Feminist SF is concerned with the complexities and ambiguities of contemporary definitions and representations of gender,” her focus in the book Aliens and Others being on the ways science fiction’s postmodern tendencies open up new cultural sp aces for feminist performances (22). Since the feminist effort to liberate women and the environmentalist effort to liberate nature share an interest in deconstructing the brand of logic that permits the oppression of women and nature, Lefanu’s, Barr’s, and Wolmark’s assertions on the value of science fiction for feminism also hold for ecofeminism. Science fiction permits the imagining of ecological spaces and the prioritizing of values necessary for such

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98 spaces to exist. Because of its speculative na ture, science fiction also permits writers to argue the viability of ecologi cally conscious cultural syst ems while exposing the social paradigms that have proven to be unsustai nable. The purpose of what follows is to explore the ways in which several works of sc ience fiction stage narr atives that envision healthy ecological space as the outgrowth of both the cultural valuing of the “feminine” and the containment and/or absence of patria rchy. “Feminine” is a contested term in feminist theory, though; so while it is im portant to explore how ecofeminist science fiction defines essential femininity, it is also important to examine whether or not ecofeminist SF has moved beyond essentialist and often problematic notions of woman and nature and considered as well social constructionist positions. I will argue that ecofeminist science fiction is not exclusiv ely essentialist; with varying degrees of success, the works I explore negotiate the tension between essentialist and social constructionist ecofeminist attit udes towards gender and nature. Negotiating Ecofeminist Territories I: Essentialism and the Ecological Conscience of Woman Sherry B. Ortner’s 1974 essay “Is Female to Male as Nature is to Culture?” establishes a context for discussing the di fference between essentialist and social constructionist positions with in ecofeminism. Ortner explores the subordination of women as a universal, pan-cultural fact and asks what it is in every culture that leads to this subordination. She reasons that the universal subjugation of women must be the result of women being identified with “somet hing that every culture devalues, something that every culture defines as being of a lower order of existence than itself” (40). Since culture is engagement “in the process of generating and sust aining systems of meaningful forms (symbols, artifacts, etc.) by means of which humanity transcends the givens of

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99 natural existence,” it follows that nature is culture’s devalued conceptual category, the given that culture subdues to insure its exis tence (40). Ortner c onjectures that culture must then identify women with its nemesis na ture, thereby substantia ting patriarchy as its protection against anything th at would undermine the cultu ralization of the wild. Patriarchy labels women as a threat to cu lture because it perceives women as closer to nature. Women embody nature as Ortner observes. The author borrows from Simone de Beauvoir to argue that female physiology di scourages the humanist transcendence that Western culture expects; breas ts, the uterus, menstruation, an d pregnancy perform or are performances of organic functi ons that highlight humanity’s connection to nature instead of its rise above animality, as modern culture aims to do. “ In other words ,” Ortner summarizes, woman’s body seems to doom her to mere reproduction of life; the male, in contrast, lacking natural creative functions must (or has the opportunity to) assert his creativity externally, “a rtificially,” through the me dium of technology and symbols. In so doing, he cr eates relatively las ting, eternal, transcendent objects, while the woman creates only perishables—human beings. (43) Ortner also argues that in addition to physiological characteristics, women’s perceived social role and psyc he locate women closer to nature and thus further from the goals of culture. The physiological functi ons of the woman “have tended universally to limit her social movement, and to confine her uni versally to certain so cial contexts which in turn are seen as closer to nature” (45). L actation, for example, reminds culture of humanity’s fundamental animality, evidenci ng the mammalian and signifying a “natural bond,” since “the mother’s body goes through its l actation processes in direct relation to a pregnancy with a particular ch ild” (45). When interpreted by patriarchal culture, this mammalian bond leads to a woman’s placement in a domestic sphere where she can exercise her natural role as caregiver, as mother. This association with the domestic

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100 further places women closer to nature, because it is in the home where animal-like infants live “utterly unsocialized,” “unable to walk upright,” unfamiliar with social language, and excreting uncontrollably ( 45-46). Also, the domestic sphere consists of intra familial relationships as opposed to the inter familial relationships that make up the public sphere, the sphere privileged in cultu ral reasoning. Like nature, then the domestic is considered of a lower order than culture and the public sphere. Finally, culture views women’s psychic st ructure as more like nature than the psyche of men. Ortner rec ognizes that many generalizable personality traits in women are products of socialization and hardly pan-cultural; however, drawing from Nancy Chodorow’s anthropological rese arch on family structure and feminine personality she points to the relative concretene ss and subjectivity of the female personality as universal. “The feminine personality,” Ortner notes, “te nds to be involved w ith concrete feelings, things, and people, rather than with abstract entities” (49) Unlike men, who embody the ideals of culture by overlaying ab stract values on natural part iculars, women relate with the world as a given, as “immanen t and embedded in things” (50). Melissa Leach critiques Ortner’s argument as problematic, mainly because of its claims about a universal woman-nature connection. And indeed, Leach’s book on the Mende-speaking people of Western Africa—whos e relationships with nature disturb any simplified conception of women as closer to na ture than men and of culture as dependent upon oppressing nature—does much to dismantle such claims. But as a context for discussing the varying motives of ecofeminist thought, Ortner’s resear ch is still useful; for, in highlighting a connection between women and nature—whether intrinsic or socially constructed—Ortner’s work leads to further questioning about whether that

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101 connection is imperative for social and ecol ogical reform or in the end hazardous for feminist and ecofeminist projects. Essentialist ecofeminism—or put differentl y, affinity ecofeminism—posits that an innate woman-nature connection is to be em braced as a way of dealing with the social and environmental problems inherent and eviden t in patriarchal cult ure. Developing out of radical feminism’s refusal to endorse oppr essive ideologies and its underscoring of epistemologies that reverse patriarchal binari es, affinity ecofeminism dismantles the logic of Western patriarchy by restoring priority to “feminine” values. Affinity ecofeminists “elevate what they consider to be women’ s virtues—caring, nurturing, interdependence— and reject the individualist, ra tionalist, and destructive values typically associated with men” (Gruen 77). Lori Gruen, a critic of this brand of ecofeminism, argues that “the belief that woman and nature are essentially connected” only works to devalue men as unconnected from nature and thus does nothi ng to restructure hier archal relations of privilege (77). But for affinity ecofeminist s, privilege itself is not a problem; the direction of the privilege is. Judith Plant writes, Women’s values, centered around life-giving, mu st be revalued, elevated from their once subordinate role. What women know from experience needs recognition and respect. We have had generations of experience in conciliation, dealing with interpersonal conflicts in daily domestic life. We know how to feel for others because we have practiced it. (160) Plant does not challenge the validity of the ideals of feminine life-giving, interpersonal communication, and empathy, which other brands of feminism and ecofeminism would label as imposed upon women by patriarchal social codes. In fact, her essay in Irene Diamond a nd Gloria Feman Orenstein’s Reweaving the World is about what women, specifically, can bring to the bi oregionalist project, a project dependent on

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102 a more life-centered, more interpersonal, more connected—in essence, more feminized— view of local place. The idea that women are inherently closer to nature is not a problem for affinity ecofeminists. What is a problem however, is when culture devalues feminine categories, and thus devalues the virtues neces sary for a more viable relationship with the natural world. While still ma nifesting a sort of hierar chical thinking, privileging reproduction of life instead of production of goods and privileging empathy instead of self-interest are reversals necessary to an ecocentric, life-affirming culture. Affirming feminine values is central to Andre Collard’s affinity ecofeminism. Like Plant, Collard centers her theorizi ng on the importance of an essential womannature connection for environmenta list reforms. She writes in Rape of the Wild Ecology is woman-based almost by definition. Eco means house, logos means word, speech, thought. Thus ecology is the language of the house. Defined more formally, ecology is the study of the inte rconnectedness between all organisms and their surroundings—the house. As suc h, it requires a thorough knowledge and an intimate experience of the house. (137) As speakers of the language of the house, women endure the burdens relegated to them by patriarchal convention. As speakers of ecology, women share patriarchy’s abuses with culture’s abuse of nature, making women “better situated to remedy” this latter abuse (138). Affinity ecofeminism goes further in its an alyses than just calling attention to the significance for environmentalism of values traditionally viewed as secondary, though. Much of the work done in affinity ecofemin ism involves revaluing matriarchal principles not socialized into women but relevant as hist orical realities. In its spiritual forms, affinity ecofeminism promotes the reemergence of ancient matriarchal belief systems that coincided in Minoan Crete and Old Europe, fo r example, with peace and respect for all life. Collard, along with the influential archeologist Mari ja Gimbutas, Riane Eisler,

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103 Starhawk, Charlene Spretnak, Joanna Macy, and Carol P. Christ are all thinkers in this tradition. They call for Western culture to embrace or at least adopt some values of Earth-based spiritualities historically seen in Goddess-worshipping cultures. “In cultures where the cycle of life is th e underlying metaphor,” Starhawk writes, “religious objects reflect its imagery, showing us women—Goddesses—ripe in pr egnancy or giving birth. The vulva and its abstracted form, the tria ngle, along with breasts, circles, eyes, and spirals, are signs of the sacred” (175). A ccording to Spretnak, many ecofeminists came to ecofeminism after their exposure, through hi storic and archeologica l research, to such an ancient religion “tha t honored the female and seemed to have as its ‘good book’ nature itself” (5). What was intriguing for early ecofeminists “was the sacred link between the Goddess in her many guises and totemic an imals and plants, sacred groves, and womblike caves, in the moon-rhythm bl ood of menses, the ecstatic dance—the experience of knowing Gaia, her voluptuous contours a nd fertile plains, her flowing waters that give life, her animal teachers” (5). Finally, in addition to recollecting the re ligious symbolisms and interests of a matriarchal past, affinity ecofeminism stre sses the need for a co llective history of women’s oppressions in patriarc hy. Indeed, one project of fe minism as a whole is to draw attention to women’s hi story; but the goals of this attention vary. Affinity ecofeminism breaks from the liberal femini st endeavor to achi eve equal rights and representation for women in curr ent socio-political systems and instead seeks to contrast the modern history of women’s oppression with an ancient history permeated with prepatriarchal ideals such as kinship, egalitaria nism, and nurturance. The goal of this juxtaposition is epistemo logical; lacking knowledge of “what [women] were and

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104 therefore what [women] can be [. .] encour ages women to want in corporation into man’s world on an ‘equality’ basis, meaning that wo man absorbs his ideologies, myths, history, etc. and loses all grounding in her own traditions ” (Collard 8). The affinity ecofeminist project comes full-circle as the values of th e past become the values now given priority. As a narrative space for breaking down cultural certainties and replacing the absence of subordinated subjects with their presence, science fiction lends itself to the radical, affinity ecofeminist project of revaluing the feminine. Though this project provokes much relevant criticism—namely because recent ecofeminist discourse rightly contests essentialist notions of “the feminin e”—its key contribution to ecofeminism is its push for woman to define herself as a subject through her ow n experience, through collective histories, and through spiritual tradition rather than to be defined as an object by a dominant logic of patriarchy. Three impor tant works of ecofeminist science fiction written from the late 1970s through the mid 1980s—Sally Miller Gearhart’s The Wanderground: Stories of the Hill Women (1979), Ursula K. Le Guin’s Always Coming Home (1985), and Joan Slonczewski’s A Door Into Ocean (1986)—narrate the possibilities of woman to define herself in ways encouraged by affinity ecofeminism. But these texts do not represent an exclusive a ffinity position; in fact, they balance—and at times struggle with—their essentialist vi ews and views that ch allenge essentialist positions. For this reason, Gearhart’s, Le Guin’s, and Slonczewski’s works not only call for an ecological conscience in their own ways but also perform w ithin their narratives the critical dialectic important for the ongoing development of ecofeminist theory. They stage within their fictions the very debate that ecofeminism grapples with as a body of

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105 ecocritical theory searching for ways to br eak apart the dual oppre ssions of woman and nature. The Wanderground The Wanderground is the story of an all-female society, the Hill Women, living nomadically in a wilderness far away from the City and its patr iarchal oppressions. Driving the narrative is the encr oachment of men from the City into the wilderness where years before, various forms of male potency—aggressive sexuality, militarism, and destructive technologies—were made impoten t by what the Hill Women call both the “Revolt of the Earth” (130) a nd the “Revolt of the Mother,” a juxtaposition of “Earth” and “Mother” characteristic of affinity ecofe minism (158). Explaining the Revolt, one of the Hill Women says, “‘Once upon a time [. .] there was one rape too many. [. .] The earth finally said ‘no.’ There was no stor m, no earthquake, no tidal wave, no specific moment to mark its happening. It only became apparent that it had happened, and that it had happened everywhere’” (158). Guns no longer worked in the wilderness, machines broke down, animals refused to serve men, a nd the male libido waned. Central to the Revolt that Gearhart imagines in her novel is that it eschews mythologies of the Earth as the tool of a violently retributive god and in stead conceives of th e Earth as a subject peaceably protecting itself against men, who have sinned against women, animals, and the landscape. The opening of the novel, how ever, shows that the effects of the Revolt are disappearing. Rumors of male virility ou tside the City are leading men to test their sexual strength through acts of rape and group “ Cunt Hunts ” (160) in the country, generating a fear in the Hill Women that “wom an energy might again be drained as it had been for millennia before the Revolt of the Earth” (130).

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106 The narrative of The Wanderground is predicated on a female/male binary and all of this binary’s essential asso ciations. In fact, the novel is self-reflexively aware of its one-dimensional dichotomy of good women a nd evil men, presenting one character, Jacqua, who says to herself early in the book, “‘It is too simple [. .] to condemn them all or to praise all of us’” (2). But this si mplicity is a necessary doc trine for both the Hill Women, whose experiences do not reveal anything decent in the male sex, and for the novel itself as an affinity ecofeminist thought -experiment and a radical feminist SF text motivated to narrate female subjectivity ag ainst the genre’s traditional male gaze. Continuing her reflection on the lack of complexity in the Hill Women’s categories, Jacqua says, “‘for the sake of earth and all sh e holds, that simplicity must be our creed’” (2). Indeed, the end of the novel challe nges the Hill Women’s absolutes, yet these absolutes are vital to Gearhart’s engagement with the ecofeminist enterprise as she establishes the possibilities of liberated woman. As a result of the Revolt and the subs equent escape of the Hill Women’s predecessors to the wilderness, woman energy ha s been left free to evolve independently of patriarchal oppressions and expectations. This narrative move f acilitates Gearhart’s speculation on the qualities inherent in women as free subjects. Though often fantastical—to be expected in science ficti on—all of these qualitie s stand out as being more ecologically conscious than the qua lities man possesses as a fundamentally disconnected sex. The Hill Women fly, or “windride.” They have a built-in instinctual mechanism called a “lonth” that acts as a so rt of flight respon se allowing involuntary kinesthetic control, demonstra ting their return to humanity’s lost animal nature. They also have an ability to communicate telepath ically with other Hill Women and with flora

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107 and fauna, a phenomenon called “mindstretch” that requires traits associated in essentialist thought with the feminine: “‘Meaningful communi cation,’” a Hill Women lesson goes, “‘is the meeti ng of two vessels, equally vulnerable equally receptive and equally desirous of hearing ’” (emphasis added) (115). Fi nally, the Hill Women engage in a ritual called “earthtouch” that uses mindstretching to send energy drawn from the Earth by one Hill Woman to another in need of this energy. Combined, mindstretch and earthtouch fictionally represent a dynam ic, spiritual, and communicative web of interrelations between women and women—and women and nature. This web is an ecological phenomenon permitted to develop as a result of the absence of anti-ecological, linear, and enforced patriarchal power. Affinity ecofeminism does more theoretical ly to culturally elevate and prioritize what it conceives as women, and as womanly, than simply to connect women and nature in an essential bond. The Wanderground too, goes beyond just conceptualizing women as “windriders” with a more ecologi cally sound instinctual and communicative awareness. The novel offers up legitimate programs for reviewing modern cultural tendencies that have oppressed women and natu re. The first is a historical program. Against a destructive patriarchal memory th at recalls the potency men used to have outside the City and thus reinstates the misogyn y of the past after th e effects of the Revolt have worn off, the women of The Wanderground stress the importance of a collective and constructive memory that allows members of their liberated society to understand their history and what motivates their emancipatory project. Thus, while the City continually seeks a return to a master narrative of pa triarchal history—even requiring every woman to be married, allowing men to have seve ral wives, and instituting curfews on women—

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108 the women of the country seek local stories th at will illustrate what they are escaping from as well as inform their progressive futu re. Nowhere in their history do the women subscribe to a master narrative of th eir culture’s experience. Instead, From countless seemingly disconnected epis odes the women had pieced together a larger picture so that now they had some sense of what had happened during those last days in the City. Over the year s as women had joined them the memory vessels had been added to: more and mo re stories, more and more horrors, and sometimes a narrative that brought with it some hope or humor. As a woman shared, she became part of all their history. (Gearhart 23) As an essentialist text, then, The Wanderground posits competing paradigms of history— one masculine, one feminine—that use historical references to either recreate the social conditions of a predetermined, univocal patria rchy or to create em ancipatory conditions based on an ecology of private experiences. Second, as the earthtouch ritual shows, the Hill Women are rooted in an Earthbased spirituality that is vital to their se lfhood, their kinship, and their sense of place. Indeed, advocating such a spirituality is impe rative for affinity ecofeminism, as shown earlier. Earthtouch emphasizes what Rian e Eisler, a cultural historian, calls a “partnership model of societ y” (33). Developi ng out of the Gaia tradition, which conceives of the Earth as “a liv ing system designed to maintain and to nurture life” (26), the partnership model opposes the “dominator society” in favor of a worldview founded upon ancient spiritualities in which “the worl d was viewed as the great Mother, a living entity who in both her tempor al and spiritual manifestati ons creates and nurtures all forms of life” (33). Partnership requires empa thetic nurturance. Thus from an affinity perspective, partnership—while not excl usive to women—can only emerge given a revaluing of the feminine. In The Wanderground however, partnership in earthtouch is exclusive to women whose feminine capacities have been permitted to develop due to the

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109 absence of men. As a political statement, Gear hart’s is radically essentialist. To posit a separatist, feminist space where a spiritual ecological conscience can thrive is a key theoretical move for ecofeminism, though, for it speculates on what in modern culture undermines the human potential for such an eco logical conscience. So, while Gearhart’s story “reinforces the exclusivity of the categories of male and female”—something Wolmark sees as problematic for its adhere nce to the same-old gender assumptions and the resulting failure to question these assu mptions—such reinforcement is a necessary starting point in an ecofeminist project th at endorses a worldview contrary to the dominant ideology (85). In The Wanderground the dominant ideology is re presented by man and by man’s collective space, the City. In fact, Gearhart ’s novel bridges the gap between ecology and feminism and becomes ecofeminist as it locates the City as the institutional space for both man the oppressor, and technology the tool of his oppression. Answering why the Hill Women, with their extraordinary powers, refuse to seek violent revenge on the City with the equivalent of “‘Bombs and nerve gas and disease pellets,’” one Hill Women insists, “‘That’s the mistake the men made, sister love, and made over and over again. Just because it was possible they thought it had to be done. They came near to destroying the earth—and may yet—with that notion’” (145). Thus, the essential qua lity of men in the novel is being “‘Driven in their own madness to destroy themselves and us and any living thing’” with whatever technology is available (3). Using everything from the technology of language as manifested through the impos ition of arbitrary aesth etic standards for women (“streamlined,” “limited,” “depende nt,” “constantly available”), to the

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110 technological tools of war, and even to th e technology of the phallus, man in the novel uses power for power’s sake, Warren’s logic of domination (63). The Wanderground then, succeeds as an affinity ecofe minist text. It establishes what it means to be a woman in both the oppr essive context of patriarchy and in a liberated context. As women unchained, th e Hill Women restore and develop further their innate feminine potentials. Vulnerab le, receptive, pacifist, interconnected, wild— these terms describe both the natural world that Gearhart imagines and the women she envisions evolving free of ma sculine oppressions, women em powered by a Revolt of the Earth-Mother to create themselves as subjec ts who value the qualities of the feminine traditionally disparaged in patriarchy. In fact, to make this empowerment clearer, Gearhart sketches a woman living in the dystopi an City as an unmistakable object of the male gaze: “a thickly painted face, lacque rstiffened hair, her body encased in a low-cut tight-fitting dress that terminated at midthigh” (63). This image of stiffness, encasement, and termination speaks to the association against which the Hill Women are fighting, one that locates men as exercising an ideology of re ckless power that sustains a civilization of dominan ce over women and nature. Always Coming Home About Le Guin’s writing, the critic Tonia L. Payne writes, “she creates a vision of what a future might look like if we were to change current tre nds, working through the implications of changes in contemporary pr actice and thought to create a goal toward which we might strive” (193) Much like Gearhart’s The Wanderground Le Guin’s Always Coming Home envisions social and in tellectual changes that parallel the affinity ecofeminist project—namely, revaluing Eart h-based spiritualities and developing the

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111 human-nature connection characteristic of such spiritualities, as we ll as interrogating the elements of culture that prevent both of these developments from happening. Similar to Le Guin’s 1969 novel The Left Hand of Darkness Always Coming Home imagines the potential of completion, of “the weaving together of dualities” (Willis 36). However, while the earlier novel focuses on the liberatory possi bilities of androgyny— historically seen as the comple tion of one sex by the other, thus equalizing both sexes in a genderless society— Always Coming Home is more about uniting humanity and nature, components of another modern duality, and with this unity highlighting what in modern culture needs to be changed in order to curtail the oppre ssions about which ecofeminism is so concerned. In fact, with the Kesh soci ety of her future history, Le Guin interweaves humanity and nature in a way that breaks down the human/nature dichotomy as it also condemns the patriarchal quest for domina nce over women and nature that would undermine the completion that the Kesh have ac hieved. Kesh society manifests all that affinity ecofeminists hope for in their revalu ing of the matriarchal past. They have returned to “Mother Earth,” so to speak, and have developed a complex symbolic and social structure that energizes their sustaina ble relationship with th e Earth and with each other. With this return to an Earth-base d spirituality, “The identification of woman and animal went deep throughout [their] sexual and intellectual teaching” (Le Guin 420). However, a specter haunts the Kesh in the form of a masculinity, denounced in affinity ecofeminism, in which the “identification [of woman and animal] is used to devalue” and thus indicates value hierarchies that run throughout an oppressive cultural framework (420).

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112 The Kesh are a culture steeped in an Ea rth-based spirituality that informs their social organization, their symbolisms, and their tr eatment of the Earth. It is a spirituality characterized by a profound sense of living with, or among, the Earth. One Kesh poem reads, Come among the unsown grasse s bearing richly, the oaks heavy with acorns, the sweet roots in unplowed earth. Come among the deer on the hill, the fish in the river, the Quail in the meadows. You can take them, you can eat them, like you they are food. They are with you, not for you. Who are their owners? (76) Although the with-ness of Kesh society is not overtly distinguished as feminine in the text, its opposite is given a ge nder: “the City of Man” (153) As in Gearhart’s novel, Always Coming Home distinguishes between the City and the country, or here, the Valley. While a historical moment—the Industr ial Age—the City of Man still exists in the world of Always Coming Home in the form of dangerous i ndustrial toxins left behind by modernity. The City of Man represents a time “‘when they lived outside the world,’” “a sort of peninsula sticking out from the ma inland, very thickly built upon, very heavily populated, very obscure, and very far away” (153). The Kesh recognize the City of Man as a historical detour, an anthropocentric deto ur, and correct it with a return to an Earthbased way of being. The Kesh do not windride or communicate te lepathically in an ecological network of humans and nature. Their return to liv ing “with” and “among” the Earth—a return permitted by the historical disappearance of th e City of Man—is more symbolic than the Hill Women’s physical return to nature. Th e Hill Women become wild and dwell in the

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113 wilderness; the Kesh stay ci vilized and manifest their wi th-ness through their symbolic capacities. The central symbol of Kesh culture is the “heyiya-if, two spirals centered upon the same (empty) space” (Le Guin 45). Manifesting “connection” with its dual spirals growing inward, as well as “change” w ith its center “empty” of finalizing that connection, the heyiya-if permeates Kesh exis tence (45). Its dance choreography and its stage productions, its town pla nning and art, its musical inst ruments, and its meditative practices all revolve around the ecological symbol In short, the heyiya-if is “the visual form of an idea which pervaded the t hought and culture of the Valley” (45). The social structure of the Kesh reveals the heyiya-if as a pervasive ecological symbol of connection and change. Knowi ng the world through a grammar that “makes no provision for a relation of ownership between living beings ,” the Kesh organize their society around not simply a respect for life but a sense of their place within the ecological web (43). The “Earth People” of the “Five H ouses of Earth” include “the earth itself, rocks and dirt and geological formations, the moon, all springs, streams and lakes of fresh water, all human beings currently alive, ga me animals, domestic animals, individual animals, domestic and ground-dwelling birds, and all plants that are gathered, planted, or used by human beings” (43-44). The “Sky Pe ople” of the “Four Houses of the Sky” include “the sun and stars, the oceans, wild animals not hunted as game, all animals, plants, and persons considered as the species rather than as an i ndividual, human beings considered as a tribe, people, or species, all people and beings in dreams, visions, and stories, most kinds of birds, the dead, a nd the unborn” (44). The Kesh have no god or gods; their spirituality centers on the metaphor of the House, an inte resting attention to the domestic sphere given affinity ecofemin ism’s prioritizing of subordinated social

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114 categories. Under the Kesh’s conceptual paradigm, all phenomena that interact to influence the dynamic ecological system—ani mals, humans, narratives, and so forth— live within one of these nine houses of Earth or Sky. Le Guin’s novel traces one woman’s experience of the “outside,” of living life under the cultural paradigms domi nant during the City of Ma n but reemerging as a force that Valley culture must struggle against. North Owl is the daught er of a woman of a Village House—Willow—and of a father of a nomadic, warrior people called the Condor—Terter Abhao. She is “among” the wo rld as a child enough to recognize “the dirt [as] the mother of [her ] mothers” and to make her pre-adolescent r itual one of absolute independence in the wilderness (19). However, because North Owl’s father left the Village so early in her life to comma nd an army, she has grown up with the title “half-person” (19). At eight-years-old, Nort h Owl feels incomplete. Abhao’s return to the Village with his army prompts North Owl to admit, “He was home, he was here, our family was whole; now everything was as it should be, balanced, complete; and so it would not change” (30). But North Owl soon finds out that her fantasies of familial completion contradict the ecological co mpletion intrinsic to Kesh culture. If The Wanderground ’s affinity ecofeminism emerges chiefly as it defines liberated woman as inherently ecol ogically conscious, then Always Coming Home ’s affinity ecofeminism emerges chiefly as it defines masculine, hierarchical spiritualities as detrimental to the interrelations that make up the non-hierarchical, ecologically interrelated House. Abhao’s presence in th e Village makes eviden t the peculiarity of potent masculinity and all of its gendered asso ciations when placed wi thin the context of a cultural and spiritual awareness that does not recognize hierarchy or institute

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115 oppressions. Among the masculine intrusions, Abhao prefers to pay one of his warriors to work the family plot despite both the oddi ty of exchanging such labor for capital in Kesh culture and the necessity for a member of the family’s house to work the family’s land. Abhao’s disregard for Kesh tradition is matched too by his disregard for the Kesh as an independent people. His reason for being with the Kesh is to build a bridge with his army to transport supplies across a river that runs thr ough their village. The Condor initiate this project “without consulting either the River or the people who lived alongside it” (33). The Kesh question the absence of wome n in the intruding Condor group, and it is when North Owl leaves the Village to join her father and experience Condor culture that we learn the reasons for both this absence and the broader oppressions instituted by the Condor. Unlike the language of the Kes h, the language of the Condor recognizes hierarchy. In fact, Abhao renames North Owl “‘Ayatyu,’” “‘woman born above others’” (186), while he also refers to the people of other towns as “people of no account” (189). Condor itself is a hierarchal designation symboliz ing people who “go in silence, above all the others” (189). This grammatical recogniti on of hierarchy goes hand in hand with the reemergence of patriarchal spirituality in Condor culture. Condor religion is monotheistic, with only one person—a man, “The Condor”—able to interpret the word of “One” (193). Furthermore, narrates North Owl, Certain men belonging to certain families are called True Condors, and others like them are called [. .] One-Warriors. No other people are called Condors. Men who are not of those families are all called tyon farmers, and must serve the True Condors. Women of those families ar e called Condor Women, and must serve Condor men, but may give orders to tyon and hontik. The hontik are all other women, foreigners, and animals. (193).

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116 In spiritual practice, too, “Women were not allowed into the s acred parts of their heyimas, which they called daharda ; we could come no nearer th an the vestibule in front of the daharda to listen to the singing insi de on certain great fes tivals. Women have no part in the intellectual life of the Dayao; they are kept in, but left out” (200). As North Owl continues to recount her experience of the Condor, we come to understand Le Guin’s affinity ecofemi nism, to understand that indeed Always Coming Home narrates oppression and livi ng outside the world as pr oducts of a masculine ideology and spirituality and their compulsory hierarchies. The Condor’s patriarchal organization supports the oppre ssion of women, nature, and Ot hers. Ransacking towns, the Condor, or “Dayao,” “killed and burned men and children and kept women to be fucked by Dayao men. They penned the women with the cattle” (193-194). Furthermore, the Condor “believed that an imals and women were contemptible and unimportant,” “Condors’ wives we re expected to have babies continuously, since that is what One made women for” (345), and “a wo man who slept with a man not her husband would be killed by the husband’s family” ( 346). While such convictions and oppressions are unheard of in Kesh culture, because of its non-hierarchal belief systems, in Condor culture they are supported by a spirituality that holds them as prerequisites: “True Condor warriors were to be one thing only, re flections of One, setting themselves apart from all the rest of existence, washing it from their minds and souls, killing the world, so that they could remain perfectly pure” (201). That the oppressions instituted by the Dayao are specifically patriarchal oppressions becomes clear when North Owl reviews the Dayao’s treatment of women, animals, and Others. Le Guin’s affinity ecofeminism continues to become evident as

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117 North Owl describes the militaristic aspi rations of the Condor. The Condor are a patriarchal people, so when North Owl relates their historical projec t of resurrecting the “Great Weapons” of the past, such a project is identified with the e ssence of masculinity (349). Witnessing a demonstration of one of these weapons, a tank-like vehicle named the “Destroyer,” North Owl describes it us ing masculine imagery: “We saw it push through a wall of bricks, thundering and shak ing through the ruins it made, huge and blind, with a thick penis-snout” (350). This figurative rape is not only symbolic of the way the Dayao treat women and Ot hers, but also of their treatment of nature. North Owl imagines “the Destroyer pushing against the oa k trees [. .], pushing them over” (350). North Owl ultimately returns to the Village Her journey, written down as history for the Kesh, reveals stark differences betw een the Condor’s oppressi ve ways of life and the Kesh’s ecologically conscious, egalitaria n culture. As “men without women” (378), as one Valley dweller deems them, the Condor communicate only through “aggression, domination, exploitation, and enforced accultur ation” (379). A Daya o woman states, “‘A Dayao man belongs to himself. He thinks everything else belongs to him, women, animals, things, the world’” (367). To th is North Owl replies, “‘We call that living outside the world’” (367), a terminology signif ying the absence of “mindfulness,” of “the intelligent awareness of [the] interdependen ce of energies and being, a sense of one’s place and part in the whole” (490). In contrast as a culture returned to humanity’s Earthbased roots, the Kesh are mindful, living insi de the world with th e understanding that “no choice could be made independent of the superpersonal and impersonal energies, the cosmic/social/self-relatedness of all existences” (490). Always Coming Home is a key

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118 text in the affinity ecofeminist project because it defines potent masculinity as a threat to mindful, ecologically conscious ways of being. A Door Into Ocean Uniting The Wanderground Always Coming Home and Slonczewski’s A Door Into Ocean is their creation of separate social and ecological spaces for the ideological positions being critiqued as well as celebrated. The Wanderground ’s City intrudes upon its ecofeminist wilderness th rough modes of potent masculinity, represented by the rape of women and a technology fetish. Le Guin’s interests are similar; with its patriarchal religious beliefs, Always Coming Home ’s reestablished City of Man violently intrudes upon a revived ecocentric culture and its Earth-based spirituality. In A Door Into Ocean the autonomy of an all-female, all-water worl d named Shora, whose inhabitants display a remarkable knowledge of planetary ecology a nd sense of place, is threatened by the colonialist politics of a patriarchal world named Valedon. In an effort to keep his wife Berenice fr om meddling in “‘affairs of state’” (197), General Realgar, commander of the army overseeing Valedon’s expl oitation of Shora, offers her a choice: “‘A sanatorium or a [. .] retreat’” (198). “‘I only want what is best for you,’” he says, “‘You need a long rest’” (198). The similarity between Realgar’s condescension and, say, John’s confinement of hi s wife in a nursery in Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s “The Yellow Wallpaper” (1892) is not coincidental, for one of Slonczewski’s primary targets of critique in her novel is the brand of patriarchy that places men in a position to decide “what is best” for women. Though Realga r’s silencing of Berenice occurs halfway into the novel, it exemplifie s the broader role patr iarchy plays throughout Slonczewski’s work. In licensing me n to define the female subject, A Door Into Ocean argues, patriarchy similarly licen ses centralized power to defi ne “what is best” for nation-

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119 states and for ecology. As with Gearhart’s and Le Guin’s criticisms of patriarchy, Slonczewski’s novel shares with affinity ecofeminism the dual goals of censuring men’s social and ecological oppressi ons as well as highlighting wo men’s ecological conscience. Shora’s inhabitants, Sharers, are much like the women of The Wanderground and the village dwellers of Always Coming Home in that they have unique characteristics that demonstrate their deep connection to place, a connection permitted by their willingness to exist as a part of ecology rather than apart from it. Physically, the “breathmicrobes” of the Shoran atmosphere turn their skin a deep purple, a preven table phenomenon that Sharers accept as part of dwelling on Shora. Their lungs, too, have evolved to allow long stints of breathlessness under water. Conceptually, the no tion of sharing that gives Shora’s inhabitants their name erases the hi erarchies inherent in one-dimensional, causeand-effect thinking. The e xpressions “learnsharing, work sharing, [and] lovesharing” nullify any conceptual paradigm that would deny that “‘Each force has an equal and opposite force’” (36). The concept of shari ng makes clear that the actor and the acted upon are one and the same; to hit is to be hit. Intellectually, Sharer s understand that their livelihood depends on an intact ecological we b. When asked why she does not spray the living rafts that Sharers inhabit with a pest icide when parasites threaten them, Merwen— a native of Shora—responds, “‘Then seasil k would choke the raft. And fingershells would go hungry, and tubeworms die of the pois on; then fish and octopus would have nothing, and what would Sharers eat?’” (60) Their embeddedness in place and their ecological literacy sets the Sharers apart from their colonial oppresso rs, whose patriarchal intrusion into Shora constitutes the plot of Slonczewski’s ecofeminist novel.

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120 Valedon’s people, Valans, know the Sharers as “women-like crea tures who lived in the endless sea, women whose men were ne ver seen, who subsisted on seaworms and could dive deep beyond light’s reach without going mad” (9). This outsider gaze shrouds the Sharers in a mystery of otherness that ultim ately justifies attempts at their exploitation by a patriarchy cemented to hier archical value structures. Historically, Valedon had a native population, know derogatori ly as “Trolls,” that “pa ssed away when the godlike Primes”—comparable to modern humans, but now extinct due to nuclear catastrophe— “came to remodel the planet [. .] to human st andards” (36). As “creatures,” Sharers, too, are threatened by a new manifestation of power ; the rulers of the universal patriarchal political system of which Valedon is a pa rt—known appropriately as the Patriarchy— wish to open up Shora for mineral exploration and textile markets. Sharer compliance is necessary for this to happen, but since in creased economic exploitation threatens “‘the web of life of Shora,’” as one Sharer asserts, such compliance will not happen (80). Valan trade on Shora has brought a “troubling upsurge in oc ean noise,” drowning out the communications of animals essential to Shora’ s ecology (65). The tr aders’ applications of poisons to the Shoran sea has also thre atened life. Thus, the Sharers defend their planet against these intrusions. Interestingly, the Patriarchy was formed to regulate the dangerous use of power by independent governments, namely to curtail th e misuse of nuclear power that ended the reign of the Primes. But the events of A Door Into Ocean suggest little distinction between the violent use of power by the Prim es and the violent use of power by those now in the Patriarchy. The Patriarchy claims to follow “the lesson of the dead gods: too many people smashed too many atoms—and plan ets, in the end,” but its support of

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121 Valedon’s social, political, and ecological exploitation of Shor a demonstrates that it fails to see this exploitation as another way of sm ashing planets (21). Indeed, the Patriarchy’s entrenchment in the ideology of knowing what is best for autonomous people as well as for political and ecological systems is itself a dangerous form of power that Slonczewski shows to be as hazardous as the misuse of atomic energy. The stark contrast between Valedon’s social and political norms and the lifeways of the Sharers leads to ideological collisions as Valans attempt to take possession of Shora. While the outcomes of these collisions seem ingly favor those in power, in the end the Sharers overthrow their colonial oppressors by using what could be considered an essentially feminine will. If to be femini ne in essentialist thought is to value the interconnectedness of all life, to affirm life, to nurture life, and to stress ecological communicative networks, then Sharers are a femi nine culture. In addition to living in a separatist ecotopia where the abse nce of men permits such femi nine values to thrive, the Sharers manifest specific, so-called feminine ch aracteristics. Their sc ience is a science of life, their intellectual supremacy in biology us ed not to destroy but to nurture ecological systems. Their politics th rives on open communication be tween all of Shora’s raft communities in events called Gatherings. And Sh arers are pacifists. In an instance that reveals the intertwining of their scientific power and valuing of life, their political methodologies, and their pacifism, at one Gath ering a Sharer named Yinerva proposes to use biological warfare to rid Shora of “‘the Valan pestil ence’” that threatens “‘Not only Sharer children and survival [. .], but all the other creatures of Shora, the lesser sisters, seaswallowers, fanwings, rafts—from snail to swallower’” (309). The group, however,

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122 ultimately chooses to preserve their nonviolen t ways and instead to conquer the Valans with what the defeated Valan general calls “bloodless ‘inv asions’” (395). The Sharers’ nonviolent techniques fo r resisting Valan aggression include whitetrance—a form of “Gandhian discipline” in which a Sharer grows pale, still, and unresponsive to outside threats—as well as a boycott of Valan goods (Slonczewski, “Study Guide” par. 31). But one of the most effective ways the Sharers defeat the Valans is not by conscious tactic but by possessing a racial, biological characteristic—their purple skin—that signifies for the Valans va rious substandard associations. From the perspective of the Valan patriarchal mindset, Sharers are low creatures; they are natives who “‘don’t think like civilized people’” (275), who are “‘ju st naked women’” (253), and who do not “‘acknowledge the authority of Valedon’” (249). These trademarks are inscribed on the Sharers biologically in the pu rple skin tone that results from Shora’s breathmicrobes. Thus, when the Valan occu piers begin to manifest externally the signifier of Sharer nativeness and all of its ra cial and gendered associ ations, they fear the “Purple Plague” (299). Troop morale plummets contributing to the ultimate withdrawal of Realgar’s army. Read as an essentialist feminist text, A Door Into Ocean demonstrates the potential for “feminine” values to triumph over an im posed patriarchy. Slonczewski’s feminist utopia bars potent masculinity by denying both the adoption of the Patriarchy’s program for Shora’s economic development and the militari stic ways of the Patriarchy. Instead of embracing Valedon’s exploitive economic agenda the Sharers defend their independence and their native lifeways. And in defending S hora, the Sharers refuse to play the Valan war game, opting to remain pacifistic despite their destructive potential. A Door Into

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123 Ocean becomes a successful affinity ecofeminist text as it grounds the Sharer’s lifeaffirming, feminine qualities in their understa nding of ecological sy stems, their respect for all life, and their sense of ecological place. The novel interrogates patriarchy, too, contrasting the artificial power hierarchies of the Patriarchy with the ecological politics of Shora, ultimately demonstrating the viability of the latter. Negotiating Ecofeminist Territories II: So cial Constructionist Ecofeminism and the Limits of Essentialism The harshest critics of affinity ecofemini sm believe that valuing an innate womannature connection is an ineffective liberatory strategy that does not dismantle patriarchal logic but instead reinforces it. In Finding Our Way: Rethinking Ecofeminist Politics Janet Biehl chides affinity—or “psycho-biologistic” (11)—eco feminism for becoming “a force for irrationalism, most obviously in its embrace of goddess worship, its glorification of the early Neolithic, and its emphasis on metaphors and myths” (2). For Biehl, essentialism “biologize[s] the personality tr aits that patricentric society assigns to women. The implication of this position is to confine women to the same regressive social definitions from which feminists have fought long and hard to emancipate women” (3). To say women are “nurturing” is to just ify their confinement to the nurturing, private sphere. To say women are more in touch with the interconnecte dness of ecology is to justify their exclusion from a public sphere that values independence over interdependence. Biehl’s analysis also questi ons the validity of affinity ecofeminism’s historical references. Goddess worship itself does not guarantee a benign culture, she argues; yet affinity ecofeminists seem to honor such wors hip as “the magic carpet by which we can reclaim the ‘women’s values’ of the Neolith ic” (33). Nor does the presence of “full-

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124 figured female figurines” in ancient archeo logical sites confirm that the relatively peaceful cultures of the Neolithic existed as a result of their embrace and worship of “a generative female principle” (34). The soci eties of the Neolithi c were complex and expansive, and to suggest that their sociopolitical dynamics grew simply out of goddess worship is to ignore the range of social, political, and cultura l intricacies that constructed the Neolithic temper. Biehl’s text dismisses ecofeminism as an illegitimate movement caught up in regressive perceptions of women, inaccurate hi storical references, and even privileging women over men in a future-primitive ecotopia. Certainly, Finding Our Way does not picture a productive ecofeminism in its criti que of ecofeminist essentialism. Not all critics of essentialism dismiss ecofeminism a ltogether, though, becaus e unlike Biehl they speak from another wing of the ecofemini st movement: social constructionist ecofeminism. Espousing the multiplicity of perspectives within ecofeminism, Lee Quinby notices, ecofeminism “has combated ecological destruction and patriarchal domination without succumbing to the tota lizing impulses of ma sculinist politics,” embracing as political strategy a plurality of theoretical positions ra ther than a single, hegemonic stance (123). However, the cont rasts between the brand of ecofeminism discussed above and social c onstructionist ecofeminism is nonetheless a contrast that complicates ecofeminist discourse. Gearha rt’s, Le Guin’s, and Slonczewski’s texts importantly work through this snag by dialec tically negotiating, with varying degrees of success, an ecofeminism that remains open to essentialist claims while also understanding the limitations of these claims.

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125 Unlike affinity ecofeminism, which sees women and nature as fundamentally interconnected by virtue of a set of innate feminine values that are at once the sole territory of women and the pr eferred values of ecotopia, social ecofeminism sees “women’s closer relation to the natural worl d as socially constr ucted. Any superior knowledge women may have about the environmen t or the natural world stems from their social position” (Mellor 17). A critic of this school of thought, Janet Biehl questions the motive of social constructionist ecofeminism, asking if it is “an attempt to show that [women’s inherent biological traits] are merely social constructions and eliminate them?” (19). But social constructioni st ecofeminism has been defined in more detail than Biehl admits, specifically by Ynestra King. King’s articles in Healing the Wounds and Reweaving the World demonstrate her critical attitude toward affinity ecofemini sm as they also consider ways in which essentialist positions can be revised to pr eserve their ecological conscience while introducing a more complex social conscience. Essential to King’s social constructionist position are the ideas that “in patriarchal thought, women are believed to be closer to nature than men” (“The Ecology” 18) and that “the mind-set of hierarchy originates within human society” (“Healing” 107). In recognizing the social origins of both the woman-nature connection and the supremacy of hierarchical ontol ogy, King sets herself and her brand of ecofeminism apart from affinity ecofeminism and reveals social constructionist ecofeminism to be more politi cally conscious than essentialist positions. King admits that in choosing nature over cu lture and feminine values over masculine values, essentialist thinkers do not adequately question these illusory dualisms. She notes, too, that “women’s ecological sensitivit y and life orientation”—truths for affinity

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126 ecofeminists—“is a socialized perspective that could be socialized right out of [women] depending on [their] day-to-day lives” (“The Ecology” 23). Continuing, she writes, “There is no reason to believe that women pl aced in positions of patriarchal power will act any differently from men” (23). King’s critical points about ecofeminism help free ecofeminism from some potentially devastating theore tical and practical limitations. She integrates nature and culture in a way that does not maintain each as mutually exclusive ca tegories. In social constructionist ecofeminism, the reformative impulse—whether ecologically conscious, socially conscious, or both—is not tied to a spec ific way of living in or with nature as it is in affinity ecofeminism, in which it seems th at reform can only happen with the help of very generally defined but supposedly universal feminine traits in the absence of equally generalized masculine qualities. By showing th at nature is itself culturally defined and that culture is intricately connected to and dependent upon the natural world—in essence, by showing that all categories are conceptual categories, whether nature, culture, female, male, or so forth—social constructionist ecof eminism insists that reform begins not in recovering universal values but in understand ing the complexities and social contexts behind sustainable value systems and then empl oying what we learn to instigate change. As King notes, women’s ecological sensitivity is context-specific, not universal. Just as women can be healers, nurturers, or defenders of nature, give n the cultural contexts they might also be torturers, as we see in Sl onczewski’s novel. Likewise, while men can be culturally programmed to be militaristic, contexts might determine them to be caring. Social constructionist ecofeminism thus begins with the blurring of hardened boundaries, a blurring that originates in unde rstanding the woman-na ture connection and

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127 the nature/culture dualism as malleable cult ural products. King’s final image of a more responsible ecofeminism is thus one that we lcomes a multiplicity of views not strictly “feminine” in the effort to generate a more ecologically and socially conscious society: Ecofeminism suggests [. .] a recogniti on that although the na ture-culture dualism is a product of culture, we can nonetheless consciously choose not to sever the woman-nature connection by joining male culture. Rather, we can use it as a vantage point for creating a different ki nd of culture and politics that would integrate intuitive, spiritual, and ra tional forms of knowledge, embracing both science and magic insofar as they enable us to transform the nature-culture distinction and to envision and create a free, ecological society. (“The Ecology” 23) Though she hints at a socially conscious ecofeminism, Gearhart is ultimately unsuccessful in The Wanderground at imagining the practice of social constructionist ecofeminism. To successfully achieve a fu lly developed ecofeminism, Gearhart could have further contemplated the simplicity of her novel’s universa l condemnation of men— a simplicity her character Jacqua admits. Bu t she passes up this opportunity in favor of strict essentialist polemic. This move has problems, as June Howard observes in her critique of the book: The evaluation of “feminine” and “mascu line” qualities a sserted by radical feminism and by The Wanderground [. .] lends support to the idea that differences between men and women are “natural,” and t hus endangers the basis of our critique of existing social relati ons and our belief that they can be changed. The disagreement is between those who accept and build upon the common-sense observation that the sexes diffe r, and those [. .] who argue that gender identity is constructed by complex, socially and hi storically specific structures. (72) From Howard’s point of view, The Wanderground promises nothing reformative and is in fact dangerous in its maintenance of female/male, nature/culture dualisms. Gearhart’s novel points to a potential dissi pation of essentialist definitions of men with its “Gentles. Men who knew that the [Hill Women] were the only hope for the earth’s survival” (2). However, this potenti al is quickly overthrow n in the subsequent

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128 description of the Gentles: “Men who, know ing that maleness touched women only with the accumulated hatred of centuries, touched no women at all” (2). The Gentles are established as men who understand their instin ctive male aggressiveness and thus choose to abstain from physical cont act with women altogether. They know themselves as hostile bodies that require self -policing to ensure the prot ection of women and nature. Of course, this understanding of the Gentles is Jacqua’s, re vealed in the passage in which she reflects on and endorses the simplic ity of the Hill Women’s condemnation of all men. Gearhart’s ecofeminist project stil l shows promise of theoretical complexity, though, when it introduces other Hill Wo men who question the imposition of a predetermined, inborn aggressiveness on th e Gentles. Reacting to the developed communicative powers of one of the Gentles, another Hill Woman, Betha, admits, “her absolutes began to get fuzzy around the edges when she tried to make them apply to a man like Aaron” (115). But again, Gearhart doe s not attempt to break apart dualities or explore gender difference as more complex th an essentialism declar es. Only women can share power peacefully, her novel insists; “men—even Gentles—found it difficult or impossible really to share power ” (115). And what Betha sees in Aaron is not a revision of the Hill Women’s establishe d beliefs. Instead, it is Aaron’s “understanding of the essential fundamental knowledge”—that “women and men cannot yet, may not ever, love one another without violence; they are no longer the same species”—that impresses on her a slightly different perception of the Ge ntles than her perception of men in general (115). Thus, the Gentles are different than men only because they observe and contain their innate brutality and because they sh are the Hill Women’s view of human sexual relations.

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129 Gearhart’s final opportunity to negotiate a more complex rendering of ecofeminism comes when the Hill Women communicate with the Gentles. The Gentles have noticed that the increased violence against women outsi de the City correlates with the number of Hill Women on rotation in the City, and they want to meet with the Hill Women to inform them of this trend. As fewer women from the Wanderground make their way in disguise into the City to k eep an eye on the conditions ther e, more abuses happen in the country against the Hill Women. Before th e meeting in which the Gentles communicate this crucial observation, the Hill Women enga ge in a debate to decide whether they should grant the Gentles this meeting. Though the meeting does happen, this decision does not come without opposition. “[T]o some of the women,” The Wanderground reads, “it did not matter that the gentles were men sw orn to isolate themselves from women; if they were men then there was no reason for concourse with them” (126). Thus the eventual decision to let several women m eet with the men—while unenthusiastic and permitted only under the assurance that the individual women speak only for themselves, not for the group as a whole—signals a st ep toward a more socially conscious ecofeminism. In the end, however, the women maintain their essentialism. Their fear of a universal masculine aggression prevents th em from opening up productive conversation with the Gentles about how both groups can wo rk together to dodge the intruders from the City. Moments after their pledge to co mmunicate the Gentles’ observations to other Hill Women, the women return to their separa tism after learning that the Gentles, too, have discovered in themselves telepath ic powers similar to the Hill Women’s. Responding to the Gentles’ claim that these powers are nonviolent, Evona says,

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130 “‘Nonviolent? Never. You know what w ill happen. You’ll use your new power all right. You’ll use it, perfect it, manufacture it, package it, sell it, and tell the world that it’s clean and new because it comes from a diff erent breed of men. But it’s just another fancy prick to invade the world with’” (179). Evona’s response is la den with the types of ideological barriers that, in its drive to open up the ecofeminist conversation to difference, social constructionist ecofeminis m avoids. The Hill Women’s attitude toward the Gentles does not encourage the breakdown of their essentialism into a mode of thought more open to recognizing the potential for men to have a social and ecological conscience. Like Gearhart’s novel, Le Guin’s Always Coming Home and Slonczewski’s A Door Into Ocean are also guilty of performing the essentia list moves that Janet Biehl critiques: in different ways they maintain that wome n and “feminine” societies are more natural and spiritually connected to the Earth than me n and patriarchal societies, and they stage masculinity and militarism as one and the same. But unlike The Wanderground these novels are not motivated only by affinity ideology. In them we find honest considerations of positions that oppose or co mplicate their own essentialist views, thus making them key works also in a social constr uctionist ecofeminism that is open to more complex ways of achieving social and ecological harmony. As an affinity text, Always Coming Home explores the oppressions seemingly fixed to male-centered ways of being. North Owl ’s journey from living with the Kesh and inside the natural world to liv ing with the Condor and outside the natural world, and then back to the ecologically and socially cons cious Kesh, represents a journey between opposite ends of a gendered spectrum. Le Gu in’s novel, however, does not frame this

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131 spectrum as innate and something to be deal t with using separatist strategies, as does The Wanderground Instead, Always Coming Home engages readers in a critical dialogue about the roles of language and history in the construction and d econstruction of both egalitarian and oppressive value systems. On the importance of language in Le Guin’s writing, Payne states, “Le Guin works to dem onstrate ways in whic h we can reestablish our connections with others, both human a nd nonhuman, through the medium of fiction. She is clearly aware of the ways in whic h those connections ar e constructed through language, particularly our responses to th e nonhuman and the concomitant actions that are called forth” (192). Le Guin’s novel steps into the realm of social constructionist ecofeminism as it makes us aware that our so cial and ecological actions indicate and are indicated by our historical grammar. A speculative archaeology of the future, Always Coming Home embraces social constructionist thinking in both its form a nd its content. Formally, the novel is a postmodern collection of artifacts, with North Owl’s tale being a personal narrative archived for the Kesh’s histor ical reference. Additionally, Always Coming Home contains excerpts of literature, artwork, maps, and other relics of Kesh and Condor existence. The effect of this structure—at le ast with regards to Le Guin’s contribution to ecofeminist thought—is to engage dialectically with the novel’s apparent essentialism by making obvious that both the Kesh’s ecologi cal conscience and th e Condor’s tyranny are products of a set of historical artifacts, not intrinsic to a gendered cultural stance. The heyiya-if produces and is produced by the eco logical mindset of the Kesh just as the Condor’s crimes feed and are fed by their hierar chical spiritual languag e. Social change,

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132 it seems, is possible given fundamental change s in the symbolic frameworks that make up any cultural system. Such an argument is central to social constructionist ecofeminism, which in not asserting that “feminine” social and ecologi cal consciousness and “masculine” aggression are predetermined and natural divergent categories stresses th e potential for progressive change to occur if we socialize modern cult ure away from dualistic thinking and towards an ecological conscience. Again, Ynestra King reminds us that the characteristics that social constructionist ecofeminists value in the ecological-feminine are not predetermined conditions of women but conditions social ized upon women. If women’s ecological values are socialized (not innate) values th at can likewise be “soc ialized right out of” women, then they can also be socialized ri ght onto men, indeed onto an entire culture. Always Coming Home highlights this possibility as it pr esents a culture whose means of socialization—its adolescence rituals, its creative production, its architectural manner, and its spirituality—embrace an ecological mindset. If Le Guin’s novel stages a philosophical proof for social constructionist ecofeminism, then Slonczewsk i’s is more practical. A Door Into Ocean does not have the postmodern form of Always Coming Home —in fact, its more traditional narrative structure is more akin to The Wanderground ’s. Thus, its social constructionism cannot emerge from its formal qualities. Like Le Guin’s text, though, A Door Into Ocean does exalt the value of language in the formation of an ecological and social conscience. In particular, the entrenchment in Shoran language of sharing as a fundamental concept attached grammatically to “l earning,” “hating,” “loving,” an d so forth demonstrates the influence of language on practice, for the Shar er culture understands and lives out social

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133 and ecological symbiosis. But Slonczewski’s social constructionist ecofeminism comes through in more obvious ways, challenging Ge arhart’s perspective and complementing Le Guin’s. A Door Into Ocean reverses the assumptions of e ssentialist ecofeminism with two of its characters. As Susa n Stratton notes, “Gender duality [in A Door Into Ocean ] is challenged both by the successful adaptation of a Valedonian male teenager to Sharer ways and by the fact that the most vicious of Valedonian soldiers is female” (par. 22). These characterizations complicate essentialist notions and open the door for ecofeminist thought to look more at the social than the innate origins of gendered behavior. Slonczewski’s text is in part a bildungsro man about Spinel, an adolescent boy from patriarchal and colonialist Valedon who expe riences Shora and ultimately chooses to reside there. Spinel’s accep tance of Sharer ways, however, comes after his interior battle with himself and with the patriarchal ideol ogy inscribed on him as a citizen of Valedon. Going through hard times financially, Spin el’s parents arrange for him to seek opportunity on Shora. The Sharers promote the move, for Spinel presents them with the opportunity to study maleness and to prove that a man can become a Sharer. But Spinel is not so excited; it is outrageous to him that “‘there aren’t any men on Shora,’” and he believes that “‘A world without fathers could have no place for him’” (22). Coming from a hierarchical society, Spinel sees the equality among Sharers as the product of “bizarre logic”; to him, the planet is “ridiculous” (61) Finally, as Spinel’s exposure to the Shoran atmosphere turns him purple, he demands a medicine that will curtail the phenomenon. With his compulsory defense of the heterose xual family unit, his hierarchical logic, and his unwillingness to experience difference, Spinel embodies essentialist notions of masculinity. But Spinel is not the subject of essentialist cont ention. Central to

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134 Slonczewski’s argument is that masculinity is a socialized characteristic, and this is made obvious as Spinel embeds himself more a nd more into Shoran life, shedding his socialized maleness and adopting a social and ecological conscience. Interestingly, this embedding begins after he witn esses the intricacies of Shoran ecology. Spending time alone contemplating his phys ical changes, Spinel had time to absorb the silent drama that pulsed below the waves. Hungry eels hid in wait beneath raft seedlings, which now dotted the sea like copper medals. A fanwing’s egg stretched and strained until the tadpole burst out and flittered away, to swim and grow until it sprouted wings. At the coral forest, a beakfish crunched the hard stalks with enormous jaws that never tired. After so me minutes of this calciferous grazing, a puff of sand would spout from its tail. Spinel wondered how long a beach a beakfish could fill, were the sand not destined to fall several kilometers below. (100) After witnessing the phenomena of nature “Spinel was now more than simply curious about Shora. Something compelled him to come to grips with this place that was inexorably becoming a part of him” (emphasi s added) (100). That “Something” is likely the very nature that he at once beholds and becomes a part of as his skin deepens to purple and his ocean dives increase in dept h and duration. Spinel’s sense of place ultimately leads him to join the Sharers in defending Shora against Valan exploitation, his literal sea change expressed in the final wo rds of the novel as he swims away from the spacecraft that would take him back to Vale don: “a friendly fawning dipped and soared overhead like a hand beckoning, Come, lovesharer, come home” (403). That a male can become a “lovesharer” is one part of the social constructionist claim of A Door Into Ocean The other is that given th e cultural atmosphere, a woman can embody the worst of masculinity’s aggressive ness. Chief of Staff of the Valan army, Jade is a woman whose militarism challenges essentialist notions of femininity and the idea that violence and hostility are gender spec ific. Ecofeminist sc holar Janis Birkeland

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135 details the ways militarism is promoted through images of femininity and masculinity. “[M]en,” she writes, “are taught to despise a nd distance themselves from their ‘feminine’ side, or their emotions and feeling” (35). Arguing the contrary, Slonczewski’s narrative shows that militarism exists exclusive of one’s sex and is in fact a trait inscribable on both men and women. Jade derogatorily nic knames the Sharers “catfish,” placing them at the bottom of an ontological hierarchy that denies species equality and justifies Valan oppressions against Shoran na tives. “‘Catfish aren’t hum an,’” Jade says, “‘they’re Vermin, and that’s how to treat them’” (323). Ja de admits that it is her duty to kill, as she also administers a range of tortures in an attempt to crack the Sharer’s nonviolent protests. In Slonczewski’s world, “masculin ity” is a socialized trait; militarism and violent aggression do not emerge simply from being male but are characteristics etched on any sex by genderless oppressive institutions. Conclusion In Greta Gaard’s anthology of ecofemi nist thought, Stephanie Lahar asks, Is there a way to know whether there we re ever times and places when human beings lived in easy cooperation with each other and the nonhuman environment, without the sexist, opp ressive, and exploitive complex of power relations we call patriarchy? Is seeking such times and places useful in empowering women today, by portraying model societie s in which women either shared or held primary power? (97) As science fiction, Gearhart’s, Le Guin’s, and Slonczewski’s novels all imagine such times and places. Central to their narrative ar guments is the essentialist idea that women and women’s ways manifest more of an ecolo gical and social conscience than men and patriarchy. While indeed blemished, this es sentialism is strategi c, permitted because traits deemed masculine—whether really inna tely male or not—need to be challenged and dismantled for an ecological and social conscience to emerge in a modern world

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136 seemingly unwilling to challenge the status quo. From Gearhart’s overt affinity ecofeminism to Le Guin’s and Slonczewski’s more careful and complicated essentialism, the theoretical stances taken in these three speculative and visionary novels are parts of an environmentalist dialogue addressing an indu strialized consumer cu lture in need of an ecological conscience.

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137 CHAPTER 6 TOWARD AN ECOLOGICALLY CONS CIOUS POLITICAL ECONOMY: ECOSOCIALIST REFLECTIONS Uniting the science fiction discussed so far in this study is the concern that growthcentered economic models, namely capitalism, threaten ecological systems. While Last and First Men “Twilight,” Earth Abides and Dune do not participate in the type of anticapitalist environmentalist critique prevalen t today in both environmentalism and science fiction, these narratives foreshadow such critiques. As SF that subverts some reigning paradigms, they consider the exhaustion of resources, the myth of human supremacy, and the dynamics of consolidated power that charact erize capitalism. More openly critical of capital, Callenbach’s ecotopian society in Ecotopia practices a stable -state economy that counters the capitalist expl oitation of nature, and Woman on the Edge of Time envisions a rustic but healthy future that defies the cap italist myth of progre ss. Brunner’s dystopian works Stand on Zanzibar and The Sheep Look Up bring to light the da ngers of capitalist supremacy, exposing the growth economy a nd its consumer ethos. And the corrupt, masculine spaces of Gearhart’s, Le Guin’s and Slonczewski’s ecofeminist novels are likewise capitalist spaces. The Revolt of The Wanderground prevents the City’s expansion, though, just as the pre-capita list, nature-cente red societies of Always Coming Home and A Door Into Ocean impede the progress of thos e who would exploit them. A concern over the growth-economy’s effect on the natural world also unifies the environmental philosophies discussed so far. Deemed subversive by Sears in the 1960s, ecological science remains subversive as scientists connect global warming,

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138 deforestation, and species extinction to cap italism’s excessive economic activity. As Brian Tokar notes in Earth for Sale “Ecology came into its own at a time of profound questioning of contemporary life, especially the alienated, high-consumption ways that had emerged in the United States after Wo rld War II” (114). Ecology, then, grew up countering capitalist in tentions and has matured into a key opponent of the growth economy. Objective scientific study of the state of th e Earth’s ecosystem is so threatening to capital that, as the environmental lawyer Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. writes, “crooked scientists on industry payroll [. .] publish junk science [. .] to persuade the public that there are no environmental cris es and to undo the laws challenging their pollution-based profits” (78). Capital has ta ken a reactionary stance against legitimate science in order to exonerate the grow th-economy from any blame in the global destruction of vital ecosystems. And if deep ecology and ecofeminism have anything in common, it is that like ecological science they both turn a critical eye toward capitalism and consumer society, although deep ecologists and ecofeminists ar e often at odds over whether to locate anthropocentrism or androcentrism as more re sponsible for ecological crises. As noted previously, deep ecology questions ontological hierarchies that pos ition humans as the central species on the Earth, that understand nonhuman species to be of lesser importance and as a result govern the globe accordingly. Devall and Sessions write, “Excessive human intervention in natural processes has led other species to near-extinction. For deep ecologists the balance has long since been tipped in favor of humans. Now we must shift the balance back to prot ect the habitat of ot her species” (127). But ecofeminists

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139 criticize this claim for being too broad in its use of the term human Reading Devall and Sessions’ passage, Chaia Heller argues, The romantic ecologist constructs a big, flat category called “human” and holds this abstract human responsible for the destruction of nature. However, it is unclear just who is subsumed under this category of human. Are the authors referring to women, who, rather than participating intentionally and profitably in “human intervention” in nature, ar e reduced to “bodies of na tural labor” and plundered along with nature? (226) Theoretical differences aside, deep ecology’ s desire to allow “a ll entities [. .] the freedom to unfold in their own way unhi ndered by the various forms of human domination ” (Fox 270) and ecofeminism’s call “for an end to all oppressions” both condemn an economic system that whether human-centered or male-centered remains socially and ecologically oppressive (Gaard 1). Political economy, or a “society’s wa y of organizing both economic production and political processes that aff ect it and are affected by it,” is thus an interest of green movements (M’Gonigle 125). Ecological scie nce, deep ecology, and ecofeminism assess a globally dominant political economy organized around economic growth and its necessary components of want-c reation, inequitable social and material circumstances between capital and labor, and bureaucratic forms of socio-economic governance. Ecosocialist critique, however, best and more di rectly offers a critical language indispensable to a thorough analysis of such a political economy, enriching green scientific, philosophical, and feminist ar guments with its own radical insights. Ecosocialism In his ecosocialist manifesto The Enemy of Nature Kovel writes, ecosocialism refers to a society that is r ecognizably socialist, in that the producers have been reunited with the means of production in a robust efflorescence of democracy; and also recognizably ecological, in that the ‘limits to growth’ are

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140 finally respected, and nature is recognized as having intrinsic value and not simply cared for, and thereby allowed to resume its inherently formative path. (10) The way toward such a society involves a num ber of fundamental cr itiques, rethinkings, and revisions, the first of which is a close ex amination of capital and its tendencies. As a manner of socialist thought, eco socialism is necessarily a cl ass movement. It finds in capital’s state-supported class structure the social foundation for the capitalist mode of production—that is, an elite-owned system th at separates workers from the means of production and with wage labor e xploits their labor power in an effort to realize a profit in a network of commodity exchange. As an ecological movement, ecosocialism highlights the effects of such tendencies on eco systemic integrity. First, splitting people from the tools and raw materials (the means of production) they need to create whatever they are creating for the market allows and assures the production of commodities with value only as things to be ex changed (exchange-values) rather than as goods relevant to local social needs (use-value s) and, importantly, obedient to local and global ecological limits. Second, under the capitalist system of wage labor, the worker is alienated from nature and nature from the creative, ecologi cal human. Wage labor relegates workers to the status of interchangeable commodities As commodities, workers are forcibly removed from their place with in the ecological field of re lations that for ecosocialism defines a whole human self. As Kovel ar gues, the “human trademark”—which is different from the trademarks of other spec ies not qualitatively but in terms of varying capacities and ways of fitting into the ecolo gical whole—is characterized by inwardness and the acting upon imagination in materially transforming ways (109) The realization of one’s full humanity is thus a function of the degree to which she or he participates

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141 freely in the production of usevalues, in the production of her or his own life as an integral component of ecosystems. Under cap italism, the private owne rs of the means of production, following market whim and the profit motive, disunite workers from nature and use-value, defeating thei r being as “organismic totali ties [. .] who act in the ecosystemic world and are acted upon by the world” (Kovel 99). And if capitalism is dehumanizing because it prevents humans from being in ecosystemic relationship, then it is anti-ecological precisely because by contriving and mandating the privately owned wage laborer it denies ecosystems the ecologically creative capacity of Homo sapiens .1 Finally, and indeed these point s are interrelated, capital’s profit motive instigates a growth imperative that sees social and natu ral boundaries as new “ point[s] of investment, commodification and exchange” (Kovel 44). Ca pital thus proceeds with an attitude of limitlessness, wreaking social and ecological havoc in the process. Pre-capitalist lifeworlds suffer gross penetration, and socially th e colonized subaltern are incorporated into the ruling capitalist totality as “Other—ba rbarians, savages, human animals, and eventually (with the growth of science), ethnicities and races” (Kovel 122-123), thereby justifying their place at the bottom of a cla ss hierarchy where wage labor prevails and social conditions remain perpetually dete riorated despite “trickle-down” theory.2 Further, capital “alters [life-worlds] in ways that fo ster its accumulation, chiefly by introducing a 1 One might think here of organic farming—as opposed to capital-driven agribusiness—as expressing such capacity. Additionally, and on this general point, Kove l references the indigenous peoples of the Amazon, who “not only created new ecosystems, they deliberatel y made these in a way that encouraged diversity of species—for instance, by planting different configurations of trees that would attract varying patterns of game species” (109). 2 The ecosocialist position on the concept of Other borrows from ecofeminism, wh ich similarly posits that the association of women and Others with nature has historically justified their oppression in patriarchal societies that embrace a human/nature, male/fem ale bifurcation. See above, Chapter 5.

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142 sense of dissatisfaction or lac k—so that it can truly be said that happiness is forbidden under capitalism, being replaced by sensation and craving” (Kovel 52). Kovel continues, The culture of advanced capital aims to turn society into addicts of commodity consumption, a state ‘good for business’, and, pari passu bad for ecologies. The evil is doubled, with reckless consumption leading to pollution and waste, and the addiction to commodities creating a society unable to comprehend, much less resist, the ecologica l crisis. (66) Capital’s illimitable movement to commodify new pools of labor and to appeal in so many ways to new markets parallel s its illimitable intrusions in to nature, its source of raw materials and of growth. Such intrusions, as ecosocialism argues, are responsible for ecological crisis. Capitalist political economy organi zes production around the profit motive and the growth imperative; and to maximize profit and growth inevitably requires a system in place that exploits labor, commodifies nature and as Kovel reiterates without really a sustained examination, deifies consumpti on. Betsy Taylor and Dave Tilford—both consumer society critics whose “green consum erism” campaigns fall short of ecosocialist revolutionism but are neve rtheless important as ensembles for ecosocialist development—write, By making conspicuous consumption our way of life, we have kept an ‘enormously productive economy’ running full tilt. Unpr ecedented levels of consumption have powered unparalleled economic growth, with predictable material benefits. In industrial countries, the sta ndard of living has risen so that items considered luxuries a few decades ago are common among the middle class today. Nonmaterial benefits have also accompan ied this growth. Life expectancy is higher, and more people than ever before in the industrial world have adequate food, housing, clean water, warmth, electric ity, and transportation, as well as many other comforts that make life easier. (463) Here, the author’s recognize capital’s ideolo gical drumbeat, but not without noting that the march of economic progress is limited to industrial countries and, moments later, acknowledging the disastrous ecological consequences of this progress:

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143 From a broader, more farsighted persp ective, the binge has been an ecological disaster. Latter twentiethcentury consumption patterns [. .] have resulted in devastating levels of environmental deteri oration, which threaten s to eradicate the economic well-being that accompanied the gr owth. [Victor] Lebow’s vision of a better life through higher levels of consumption left out two very important parts of the equation: Where does all this stuff co me from? Where does it all go when we are done with it? (464) Taylor and Tilford’s discussi on targets an oft-quoted statement from Lebow, a postWorld War II marketing expert whose ideas still inform the growth economy: “ Our enormously productive economy . demands t hat we make consumption our way of life, that we convert the buying and use of goods into rituals, that we seek our spiritual satisfaction, in consumption. . We need things consumed, burned up, worn out, replaced, and discarded at an ever-increasing rate ” (Taylor and Tilford 463). An ecocritical analysis of consumption can go in several dire ctions, one of which is a look at the social and eco logical effects of a culture so addicted to buying stuff.3 Lebow’s insistent decree for consumption, however, raises anot her important issue regarding capital’s political economy of consumpti on, an issue not specific to ecosocialism but certainly crucial for the m ovement: the juxtaposition of consumption with “spiritual satisfaction.” Again discussing the “human trademark,” Kovel writes, “The emptiness that always shadows the self and the peculiar set of powers conferred by human nature creates for humanity a capacity not seen elsewhere in nature, namely, a reaching beyond itself, along with th e potential [. .] of achieving a universal perspective, and of reaching toward the Whole” (104). A fully realized ecological conscience will manifest a return to such a spiritual “reaching toward,” one prior to religious constructions that exclude and even demonize the material world as well as prior to the 3 On this, I will only refer the reader to Wacker nagel and Rees, Brown, Kovel’s introduction, or any number of texts that cite the harrowing statistics.

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144 growth-economy’s construction of consum ption as spirituality, shopping malls as churches, and bought stuff as idols. Ca pital co-opts spirituality not simply by commodifying “New-Age” but, more drastically by locating Wholeness in the very act of participating in the market. As such, questions about the source of commodities and their final resting place need not be asked; the gods know the answers. Capitalist political economy, too, organizes socio-political relati ons to support its economic framework, namely by limiting human lifeways disagreeable to capital. It could be said, then, that capital is hostile toward differentiation if indeed “A differentiated relationship is one in which el ements of an ecosystem are brought together in a process of mutual rec ognition that respects their w holeness and in tegrity” (Kovel 139). The loss of ecosystemic integrity under capital occurs both as a result of capital’s quantification of the ecosystem parts it sees as valuable and its social -political limitations on human ideas and lifeways. Both ecosystem ic integrity and soci al dialectics (one-inthe-same in ecosocialism) involve differentia ted relationships that capital fundamentally cannot embrace if it wants to do what capit al does—that is, expand effortlessly and transnationally in a regime of abstract ex change values and the extraction of surplus value through the exploitation of a working class. The novels analyzed in this chapter cr itique capitalism differently, but each respective argument is cruc ial to an ecocritical dial ogue involving ecosocialist perspectives. Certainly capitalism is a comp lex operation, and together Frederik Pohl and C.M. Kornbluth’s The Space Merchants (1952), Le Guin’s The Word for World is Forest (1972), and Kim Stanley Robinson’s Mars trilogy (1993, 1994, 1996) critique capitalism in a necessary range of ways. Pohl and Ko rnbluth’s book targets th e advertising industry

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145 that creates the cultural atmosphere necessa ry for the growth-economy to prosper, an industry whose symbols erase conditions of capitalist production as they generate consumer desire for supposedly neutral products. Le Guin’s award-winning novella exposes the conditions of capitalist production; in The Word for World is Forest capital’s insatiable desire for natura l resources results in the at tempted deforestation of an inhabited planet and the expl oitation of the planet’s natives. Finally, Robinson’s Mars trilogy speculates on the possibility of an eco -economy against a hyper-capitalist push to consume all the resources of Mars, as it also formally revalues th e dialogical stance now suppressed in the capita list political mode. The Space Merchants The narrative of The Space Merchants unfolds against the background of a threatened future Earth. Fresh water supp lies are limited and to wash up in even a trickling tap is considered wasteful. Polluted air requires residents of this Earth to wear “antisoot plugs” in their noses (9). Coal is still a big industry. Overpopulation has some people yearning for the “spacious old days,” and wood is so rare that oak and pine jewelry have the status that pr ecious metals and jewels signif y today (42). And in one of many of Pohl and Kornbluth’s darkly co mical but all-too-plausible speculations, corporate food manufacturers meet global f ood supply needs artificially, presumably necessitated by the absence in the future of land fit enough to grow food organically. One company, Chlorella Protei ns, develops and maintains Chicken Little, once a “lump of heart tissue” and now a gigantic blob of protein-rich tissue sliced, weighed, shaped, frozen, cooked, flavored, packaged, and shipped all over the world (76). But the atrocious ecological conditions of this future Earth do not create the dystopian reality that one might expect. Despite the obvious strain of consumption on the

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146 Earth’s limited resources, th e wheels of the growth-centered economy keep turning. Producers keep producing and cons umers keep consuming. Where The Space Merchants is most acute in its criticism, though, is not in reproving produ cers and consumers for maintaining the production-consumption frenzy but in illustrating the absurdity of an advertising machine powerful enough to erase em pirical evidence that such a frenzy is materially impossible to sustain. Read as an environmentalist text, The Space Merchants is most effective when it shows how much the growth-economy depends on an advertising industry whose foremost purpose is to layer desirable meaning over the most unpromising social and ecological circumstances. Housed in an office epitomizing cons picuous consumption, with its imposing furnishings of “genuine tree-grown wood,” Fowler Shocken Associates—“‘the largest advertising agency in the c ity’”—makes its fortune pioneering for economic globalization (2). One of Fowler Shocken’s favorite acc ounts is Indiastries, for which the agency prepared “‘a whole subcontinent’” to merge “‘ into a single manufacturing complex’” (3). Though not a narrative specifically about the effects of capitalist id eology on populations or on ecology, The Space Merchants does recognize the danger ous scope of capital’s material and symbolic activities. Fowler Shocken himself outlines the “history of advertising—from the simple handmaiden task of selling already manufactured goods to its present role of creating industries and redesigning a world’s folkways to meet the needs of commerce” (6). While Shocken celeb rates the malleability of culture at the hands of marketeers, contemporary critics of the global economy m ourn it. Jerry Mander and Edward Goldsmith, editors of The Case Against the Global Economy write, “ For corporations, the overwhelming drive is cons tantly to expand their resource bases and

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147 their markets to create globally homogenized consumerist life-styles ” (295). Developing this point in the same collection, Tony Cl arke observes the eff ect of the growtheconomy’s homogenizing objectives: “a global monoculture is emerging, which not only disregards local tastes and cultural differences but threatens to serve as a form of social control over the attitude s, expectations, and behavior of people all over the world” (300). Shocken’s brief history of adve rtising legitimates, at least in fiction, what critics of globalization notice today: in the interest of profit, capital is annihilating cultural tradition. Of the many problems with this forced subordination, one is ecological. Referencing the environmental thinker and activist Vandana Shiva, Tokar writes, “development [. .] systematically degrad es the knowledge, skills and cultural practices that have made it possible for people to th rive completely outside of a commercial context for thousands of years” (170). Ep itomizing Shiva’s point, apologists for global capitalism believe, as Peter Marber does in his book Money Changes Everything that because citizens of less proflig ate nations sport American brand-name clothes they must desire to throw away their culture and enter the global marketplace (158). In its replacement of the non-commercial with the commercial, or of traditional cultural practices with cultural attitudes more favorab le to capital, the development policy that extends from Marber’s attitude—indeed, the very attitude that Fowler Shocken fosters in Pohl and Kornbluth’s novel— erodes not only cultural in tegrity but also ecological integrity. The Space Merchants suggests that the exha usted ecology of the future—little clean water, polluted air, overpopulation, deforest ation, and dead soil— is the result of the reckless consumption encouraged by advertis ing’s fictional and concealing narratives.

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148 After defining early the ideol ogy that drives the advertisi ng industry, Pohl and Kornbluth show this industry in action. Having “‘actually and liter ally conquered the world [and] Like Alexander, [weeping] for new worlds to conquer’” (6), Fowler Shocken initiates his next project: the “development and exploitation of the planet Venus” (7). With “Sales” as their god, Shocken’s agency begins its ma rketing. To start, Mitchell Courtenay, the agency’s language man and the novel’s narrat or, consults with Jack O’Shea, the only person to have gone to Venus, in order to lo cate in O’Shea’s experiences images that will appeal to potential consumers of the pl anet. O’Shea’s honesty about Venus, though, is not what Mitch wants to hear. Asked to “‘ Suppose [he] wanted a lo t of people to go to Venus. What would [he] tell them about it?’” Ja ck replies, “‘I’d tell them a lot of damn big lies’” (17). How else to sell an atmo sphere of “‘embalming fluid,’” heat that “‘averages above the boiling point of wate r—if there were any water on Venus, which there isn’t,’” and winds “‘clocked five hundr ed miles an hour’” (17)? Mitch, however, trusts that “‘there are answers for all those things’” and instead wants Jack to give him “‘the feel of the place’” (17). The contrast between Jack’s Venus and th e desirable Venus Mitc h wants to create through language speaks to the fundamental st rategy of global capital and its advertising methodologies: the intentional obfuscation of conditions of production using appealing, sellable symbolic values. But Mitch soon gets to experience the falsity of advertising language when he is thrust into the realit y of another one of his accounts: Chlorella Proteins. Kidnapped and given a new identity as a laborer at the oppressive Costa Rican factory that houses Chicken Litt le, Mitch cannot help but recall the words he wrote to sell Chlorella’s products: “‘From the sun-drench ed plantations of Costa Rica, tended by the

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149 deft hands of independent farmers with prid e in their work, comes the juicyripe goodness of Chlorella Proteins’” (68). In contrast to the advertising langua ge, Chlorella’s factory greets laborers—not family farmers—with “a gu sh of disinfectant aer osol,” a team of condescending guards, and a number plaque to wear around their necks (67). The factory is eighty stories high and its photosynthesis mi rrors create working conditions too bright to be safe. Opposing Fowler Shocken Associates and the consumer culture that the firm promotes, the World Conservationist Associatio n (W.C.A.) works to curtail the “reckless exploitation of natural resources” that it be lieves “has created needless poverty and needless human misery” (80). Howeve r, in the postindustrial world of The Space Merchants a world in which the ideology of capita l permeates social consciousness, the W.C.A. offers a criticism too contrary to be adopted comfortably. As with any group who questions the dominant paradigm, the W. C.A. is demonized by the hegemony, thus neutralizing their message. A W.C.A. pamphl et attempts to debunk such myths about the organization: You have probably heard that “the Cons ies” are murderers, psychotics, and incompetent people who kill and destroy for irrational ends or out of envy. None of this is true. W.C.A. members are humane, balanced persons, many of them successful in the eyes of the world. Stories to the contrary are zealously encouraged by people who profit from the exploitation which we hope to correct. (80). As a key player in capital’s mind control, Mitchell Courtney knows the W.C.A. only as zealots. Mitch’s resentment of the “Consies,” as well as his position as an enabler of consumer behavior, comes out when he reflec ts on the fellow factory worker and secret W.C.A. member who handed him the abovementioned leaflet: I hated the twisted minds who had done such a thing to a fine consumer like Gus. It was something like murder. He could ha ve played his part in the world, buying

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150 and using and making work and profits for his brothers all around the globe, ever increasing his wants and needs, ever incr easing everybody’s work and profits in the circle of consumption, raising childre n to be consumers in turn. (82) Mitch must feign sympathy for the W.C.A. cause in order to escape the Costa Rican factory, and though he seems too firmly embedde d in the ideas of the growth-economy to adopt any conservationist sentiment while intermingling with members of the organization, in the end he does just that. Once he is outside his corporate physical and ideological space, Mitch sees a reality that previously he knew only through th e eyes of capital. Interestingly, Mitch’s experiences in and realizations about this reality attest to a worldview so different from the worldview of global capital that Fowler Shocken write s them off as imagined. Contrary to the mythologies perpetuated by capital, “The interests of producers and consumers are not identical,” “Most of the world is unhappy,” “Workmen don’t automatically find the job they do best,” “Ent repreneurs don’t play a hard, fair game by the rules,” and “The Consies are sane, in telligent, and well or ganized” (135). But Sales is to Shocken a Truth that “could do no wr ong,” a god that begs no questions (136). Embodying the global capital hegemony, Shocke n dismisses Mitch’s disclosures the same way capital has dismissed economic alternatives throug hout the novel and throughout the postindustrial age: he discounts Mitch’s new conscience as the product of a “wicked, untamed id” (136). The novel ends after Shocken dies and leaves Mitch with majority shares in Fowler Shocken Associ ates. With his new ecological and social conscience, Mitch exercises his symbolic and financial power to unconvince people of the desirability of Venus. Using the government-sponsored Venus rocket, Mitch relocates to the planet with a group of Consies.

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151 In her book on American science ficti on film, Vivian Sobchack draws from Ernest Mandel and Fredric Jameson to define the postindustrial age and to characterize the cultural dynamics of consumer capitalism. She notes, “With the 1940s [. .] and coincident with the technological developmen t of nuclear and electronic power marked progressively by the atom bomb, the televi sion set, and the computer, comes a new moment of capitalist expansion” (243). Distinguishing this po stindustrial stage of capitalism is “The totalizing inco rporation of Nature by industria lized culture [. .] into a visible and marketable ‘desire’ produced as media spectacle” (244). When in The Space Merchants Mitch stares through the window of a tour ist rocket at the Amazon valley and Tierra Del Fuego only to be interrupted with advertisements that opaque his view, he is experiencing postindustrial capitalism. Thes e landscapes are alrea dy capitalist spaces in the book—the Amazon basin home to the worl d’s biggest power dam and Tierra Del Fuego a whale fishery—and are thus doubl y commodified when Mitch’s gaze is subjected to advertisements. Indeed, with their speculations on a future atmosphere of scarcity, sterility, and pollution amid the hyper-capitalist symbolic strategies that overwrite this ecological reality in every wa y possible, Pohl and Kornbluth assert the weaknesses of a postindustrial, consumer cap italism too caught up in an ideology of economic growth to notice, or even care about, the physical lim its of its activities. Given Mitch’s seemingly permanent groundi ng and participation in a capitalist structure that commodifies natu re in ways that—as demonstr ated in Shocken’s intended Venus project—go beyond overwriting the la ndscape with marketing language, his adoption of a conscience critic al of capital and consumer soci ety signals a hopeful shift in social consciousness. His physical relocati on from a completely commercialized and

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152 dominated Earth to a Venus he vows not to co mpromise to corporate interests symbolizes the possibility of a movement in postindustr ial culture from a consumer conscience unaware of the effects of capitalist producti on on ecosystems to an ecological conscience awake to the effects of capital’s global supremacy. The Word for World is Forest If The Space Merchants is about the symbolic strategies used to cover up conditions of capitalist production then Le Guin’s The Word for World is Forest is about these conditions of production, namely the effects of deforestation on ecology and on native people who depend on the wilderness for culture and survival. A critical allegory about the then ongoing war in Vietnam, Le Gu in’s book is also subversively ecological as it prefaces deep ecological and ecofeminist wi sdom. As such, it is a central text in environmentalist science fiction. But the book’s effectiveness as a wo rk of ecocritical SF comes, too, from its insistence that the ideology of capital enab les the erosion of biological systems and the oppression of women and Others that ecological science, deep ecology, and ecofeminism all condemn in their respective ways. From the perspective of ecological science, The Word for World is Forest understands the dynamics of ecological systems; its detailed description of the forest on the planet Athshe—the novel’s setting—in fact expresses a biol ogical reality that challenges mythological and popular representa tions of wilderness as evil and, as a consequence, permitted to be tamed at the hands of capital. In the forest, No way was clear, no light unbroken [. .] Into wind, water, sunlight, starlight, there always entered leaf and branch, bole and root, the shadowy, the complex. Little paths ran under the br anches, around the boles, over th e roots; they did not go straight, but yielded to ev ery obstacle, devious as nerves. The ground was not dry and solid but damp and rather springy, pr oduct of the collaboration of living things with the long, elaborate death of leaves and trees; and from that rich graveyard

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153 grew ninety-foot trees, and tiny mushrooms th at sprouted in circ le half an inch across. (25) Here, Le Guin gives life to th e woods through imagery that is traditionally used to make wilderness seem horrifying. To be sure, wilderness is gloomy and “devious,” a “damp” “graveyard”; but this is the envi ronment from which life is born. Furthermore, as a text aware in 1972 of what have since become the concerns of deep ecology and ecofeminism, The Word For World is Forest reflects on the oppressions caused by human-centeredness and misogyny. Regarding the former, when one character, Kees, worries that by poach ing deer on Athshe—or “New Tahiti”—Don Davidson’s Terran logging crew is not following “‘Ecological Protoc ols’” (5), Davidson argues his point with anthropocentric reasoning : “‘it’s the men that count. Not the animals’” (4). Continuing his dispute with the ecologically conscious Kees, Davidson declares, “‘You worry about deer and trees and fibreweed, fine that’s your thing. But I like to see things in perspective, from the t op down, and the top, so far, is humans. We’re here, now; and so this world’s going to go our way’” (5). This human-centeredness is coupled, in Davidson, with an androcentrism th at imposes hierarchical sexual relations in the same way it imposes “top down” human-natu re relations. In fact, the novel begins with Davidson anticipating his visit to the “new shipload of women [. .] breeding females [. .] 212 head of prime human stock” (1). While Le Guin’s novella invites readings from the perspective of ecological science, deep ecology, and ecofeminism, its centr al conflict demands a reading critical of capitalist production—an ecosocialist reading. The Word for World is Forest shows the destruction of forest ecol ogy, speciesism, and misogyny to be interrelated effects of capitalist ideology. To fear wilderness sanctions its co mmodification, its taming; to

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154 hierarchize species authorizes the dominant speci es to behave only in its own interests; to objectify female sexuality makes women ava ilable for consumption. Put differently, capitalism forces understandings that allo w the subjects it comm odifies—wilderness, species, women—to be commodified in the fi rst place. Capital’s knowledge of people and place—indeed, Davidson’s knowledge in th e novella—is strictly economic, fed by a fetish if not for markets, specifically, then at least for the em ptying of cultural and ecological meaning that makes the cons umption of people and place possible. Demonstrating this emptying of meaning, Davidson reflects on the motivations of those exploiting Athshe: “men were here now to end the darkne ss, and turn the treejumble into clean sawn planks, more prized on Earth than gold. Literally, because gold could be got from seawater and from under the Antarctic ice, but wood could not; wood came only from trees. And it was a really necessary luxury on Earth. So the alien forests became wood” (7). A key passage in the text, Davidson’s explanation of capital’s intentions on Athshe characterizes capitalism’ s perception of nature and of itself. Terms such as “darkness” and “tree-jumble” are imposed on the Athshean woods, writing off their place within an ecologi cal totality in orde r to serve instead a mythology in which production saves the day by cleansing the fore st and transforming it from a locale of “primeval murk and savagery and ignorance” to “a paradise, a real Eden” (3). Seeing itself as honorable in disinfec ting the forest and its people, capital in Le Guin’s novel, too, provides the necessities of human life—w ood—and is thus all the more pious. To say wood is a “necessary luxury,” though, is a contradiction, for luxuries are, as the consumer culture theorist James Twitchell contends, “ totally unnecessary” (1). In

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155 producing luxuries, the logging of the forest is necessary only in that it serves the very economic system that imposes a rhetor ic of need upon its needless products. With the capitalist vocabul ary lifted from Davidson’s project, no longer is it a noble endeavor to sanitize Athshe and fulfill human “needs.” Instead, it is a deforestation project supported by “the Development peopl e” whose only interests in Athshe is the one-hundred-and-twenty-million “new-dollars worth of prime lumber” that the planet provides the Terran market, and of course the sl ave labor that will help them get it (76). Certainly, this project has a number of eco logical and cultural ramifications. His thoughts focused on “212 buxom beddable breas ty little figures,” Davidson is inconvenienced by news of the ecological consequences of his venture: “Dump Island”—the first Terran colony on Athshe— cannot sustain crops or a healthy ecology with its forest logged (1). Missing the ecological network of root systems and fibreweed that stabilizes the topsoil, Dump Island erode s as quickly as the rain can wash the soil into the sea. Concerned about the ecology of Athshe and critical of the Terran development plan for the planet, one charac ter, Raj Lyubov, admits, “As for the total land ecology, [. .] I say we’ve irrecoverably wr ecked the native life-systems on one large island, have done great damage on this subc ontinent Sornol, and if we go on logging at the present rate, may reduce the major habitable lands to desert within ten years” (71). Lyubov is an anthropologist for the Terra n colonies and his ultimately inaccurate analysis of the Athsheans as a passive and c onsequently exploitable race permits those in power to disregard his ecologically conscious observation as another erroneous judgment. But Lyubov’s remarks exhibit one of science fi ction’s key ecocritical strategies. By foreseeing future spaces ravaged by human de mands, ecocritical science fiction raises

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156 questions about how we should behave now to avoid such plausible futures. Science fiction writers in general are “our early warn ing system for the future,” as writer Frank M. Robinson avows (255). Carol P. Hovanec maintains, “This is certainly one of Le Guin’s purposes”—to offer a theoretical case st udy “of what might happen in the future if humanity continues to explo it the environment” (84). This, too, is what Lyubov does as the novel’s ecocritical voice; on ly, with the Earth ecologically dead in the novel, Athshe is the planet he hopes to spar e. Disputing the argument th at the Terran development plan for Athshe can progress with minimal ecologi cal impact, Lyubov asserts, “‘That’s what the Bureau of Land Management said about Al aska during the first famine. [. .] The survival percentage of Native Alaskan sp ecies in habitat, af ter 15 years of the Development Program, was .3% It’s now zero’” (72). Identifying Davidson’s attitude with the industrialist outlook of late-nineteenthcentury America, Hovanec writes, “In his desi re to destroy the fore st and convert it to products useful for Terran, he also resembles the deterministic industrialists who saw the environment as an expendable commodity” (88) The concept of the expendability of the natural world (a world that most fear a nyway, according to ca pital) is a central justification for capita list production and, as Le Guin’s novel demonstrates, the focus of its rhetoric. And with the mindset that the interests of markets s upersede the feared and disposable natural environment comes the out look that everything in the environment, including people, must make way for the “d evelopment” that capital brings. Just as Davidson’s language represents capital’s att itude toward an expendable nature, it also illustrates capital’s feelings for those who dw ell in the places it desires to market. Speaking of the native Athsheans, Davidson remarks, “‘They’re going to get rubbed out

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157 sooner or later, and it might as well be s ooner. It’s just how things happen to be. Primitive races always have to give way to civilized ones. Or be assimilated. But we sure as hell can’t assimilate a lot of green monkeys’” (12). Labeling the Athsheans as inevitable victims of colonialism, as pre-m odern, and as inferior, Davidson validates the activities of capital that th reaten not a native culture whose lives are spiritually interconnected with the living forests and w ith each other but a substandard herd of “creechies” whose wild life wa ys attest to their baseness. “Perfectly integrated into the natural ecology of their planet,” the Athsheans are so dislocated as a result of Terran activity that they sacrifice thei r pacifism to engage in their own fierce project to end Terran expl oitation (Yanarella 100-101). Also a culturally critical voice in The Word for World is Forest Lyubov speculates on the Athsheans’ recent violence toward the Terran occupiers: “I wonder if they’re not proving their adapta bility, now. By adapting their behavior to us. To the Earth Colony. For four year s they’ve behaved to us as they do to one another. Despite the physica l differences, they recognized us as members of their species, as men. However, we have not responded as members of their species should respond. We have ignored the re sponses, the rights and obligations of nonviolence. We have killed, raped, disp ersed, and enslaved the native humans, destroyed their communities, and cut down their forests.” (62) A postcolonial analysis of Le Guin’s novel might examin e the cultural ramifications of the Terrans’ introduction of violence into At hshean civilization, particularly how that civilization is in effect erased as a consequence of the erasur e of one of its key defining characteristics: nonviolence. Selver, the Athshean who leads the successful revolution to defeat Terran conquest, even laments to one Terran, “‘Maybe after I die people will be as they were before I was born, and before you cam e. But I do not think they will’” (169). With their new knowledge of how to kill, the Athsheans may be forever changed ecologically, as well. Though this claim is sp eculative (Selver’s stat ement ends the novel

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158 and readers never find out if his prediction co mes true, or to what end), it follows that such a drastic mutation of a nonviolent, na ture-centered culture could dissolve any ecological connections that culture has. If the people “they were before” were seamlessly integrated into the wilderness and had develope d their nonviolent tendencies as a result of this integration, then the intr oduction of violence is also th e introduction of an idea that could separate the Athsheans from the nature that made them as they were before. Speaking on this point in a different, real-l ife context, the Okanagan Native activist Jeannette Armstrong writes, “Indigenous peopl e, not long removed from our cooperative self-sustaining life-styles on our lands, do not survive well in this atmosphere of aggression and dispassion” (467). Asserting the idea that Le Guin’s book also asserts— that “We are our land/place”—Armstrong r ecognizes how capitalist violence and its inherent deficit of humanhuman and human-land cooperati on severs native people from their traditional and sustaina ble lifeways (466). Armstrong shares with Le Guin an uneasiness about the effects of capital on natura l places and on the cultures that dwell in them. Ultimately, Le Guin’s tale calls for so mething to be done about the exploitation of people and place executed by capital in the name of economic growth. The Mars Trilogy and the Eco-Economy The concerns of Robinson’s Mars trilogy range from interper sonal relationships to the potentials of technological wizardry, but the series is especially successful at imagining an economic system that fundame ntally rejects the types of obfuscations, oppressions, and violence esse ntial to capitalist production.4 Set on barren Mars, the 4 Much of the following discussion recalls my article on the Mars trilogy in Utopian Studies only with a reframing of that argument within the contexts of political economy and the critical language of ecosocialism.

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159 trilogy speculates what paradi gms the planet’s settlers wi ll inscribe on the “blank red slate” ( Red Mars 85). Anything is possible for th e group of one hundred chosen to establish the first Martian col ony, and Robinson uses all 1900-pl us pages of his trilogy to illustrate the challenges of moving beyond a hi story spawned on the Earth and toward a future, Martian history generated by new ideas. Like Pohl and Kornbluth and Le Guin, R obinson spends much time implicating the capitalist economic paradigm for its environmen tal and social destructiveness. Early in Red Mars the Mars settlement team of one hundr ed scientists has hopes of beginning a small scientific research station on the pl anet, but later we come to understand the motives of those higher powers responsible fo r sending these scientists: to terraform Mars rapidly, opening the way for total ec onomic exploitation. Oddly, and perhaps predictably given the nature of capital, as the U.N. Office for Martian Affairs (UNOMA) approves the terraforming of Mars for ec onomic purposes, on Earth the previously protected Antarctica starts being mined and dril led for its oil. The parallel between the corporate terraforming of Mars and the exploitation of Anta rctica suggests that as “the last clean place on Earth is gone” so the next clean place, Mars, is becoming the victim of the same economically driven rampage (251). Surely, this terraforming stages capital’s tendency to “refuse all boundedne ss,” as Kovel writes, and t hus to seek boundaries such as that imposed by capital on itself through its full development of th e Earth (44). Mars is only the next site of growth. Indeed, capitalist intentions take precedence over the scientific motives of the first settlers. Though many of the first one hundred are pleased with UNOMA’s decision to support terraforming as a scientific venture, the subsequent intrusion of transnational

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160 corporate interests instigates many of these settlers to revolt later in Red Mars The first sign of this intrusion is when the Germ an millionaire and UNOMA bureaucrat Helmut Bronski violates a Mars treat y by allowing Armscor, a transn ational corporation, to begin prospecting on Mars. As John Boone, the se ttlement’s symbolic father, observes the mining operations at Bradbury Point, his though ts suggest an envir onmentalist’s distress over the effects of capital ’s economic activities: John shook his head. That afternoon they drove for an hour back to the habitat, past raw pits and slag heaps, toward the di stant plume of the refineries on the other sides of the habitat mesa. He was used to seeing the land torn up for building purposes, but this . It was amazing wh at a few hundred people could do. [. .] wreaking such havoc just to strip away metals, destined for Earth’s insatiable demand . . (277) Though at this point in the book Mars has onl y recently been settled, the developing industrial landscape already refl ects the contaminated atmos phere of a world being torn apart by greed. Robinson’s reflections on the insatiable demands of the capitalist economy do not end with the mention of Antarctica and the Armscor “gold rush,” as John later calls it (284). One of the most awful (in both senses of the word) technologies in Red Mars is the space elevator, a thirty-seven-thousand kilometer traversable vertical cable that allows the various ores being mined on Mars to be shipped efficiently to the Earth. Phyllis Boyle, the primary visionary of the space elevator, explains, “It will also be possible to use the cable’s rotation as a slings hot; objects released from the ballast asteroid toward Earth will be using the power of Mars’s rotation as their push, and will have an energy-free high-speed takeoff. It’s a clean, efficient, extraordinarily cheap method, both for lifti ng bulk into space a nd for accelerating it towards Earth. And given the recent disc overies of strategic metals, which are becoming ever more scarce on Earth, a cheap lift and push like this is literally invaluable. It creates the possibility of an exchange that wasn’t economically viable before; it will be a critical com ponent of the Martian economy, the keystone of its industry.” (306-307)

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161 Though Phyllis promotes the elevator’s cleanliness and its low energy use, her seemingly ecologically conscious assuranc es are odd after reading John’s observation earlier of the “raw pits,” “slag heaps,” and “d istant plume[s]” that litter the Martian landscape and that are the results of the mining th at Phyllis sees as key to th e developing Martian economy. Furthermore, Phyllis’s promotion of the sp ace elevator is even more awkward if we consider her awareness that the Earth’ s own supply of metals is dwindling. The Mars trilogy continues its critique of cap italism as it shows how the rapid terraforming that capita l supports—as opposed to the Dune -like, deliberate, and creative efforts to change Mars—causes environmental instability on the planet. The action at the end of Red Mars takes place among avalanches and fl oods; and just as this chaos is juxtaposed oddly with Phyllis’s faith in the direction of the Martian economy, the continuing environmental violence of Green Mars too, is prefaced by Phyllis’s confidence: “‘All the stockpiled metals from the last forty years are ready to enter the Terran market, and that’s going to stimulat e the entire two-world economy unbelievably. We’ll see more production out of Earth now, an d more investment here, more emigration too’” (183). Soon after Phyllis says th is, the scientist Sax Russe ll reflects on the negative effects of the rapid changes to the Martia n environment: “Mass wasting was causing many landslides a day, and fatalities and une xplained disappearance s were not at all uncommon. Cross-country travel was dange rous. Canyons and fresh craters were no longer safe places to locate a town, or even to spend a night” (217). Here, the Mars books again question capital by drawing attention not only to the environmental consequences of capital’s activit ies but also to the social consequences, for capital is threatening people’s lives.

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162 As a set of ecocritical texts, The Space Merchants The Word for World is Forest and the Mars trilogy argue a very similar point: cap italism is inherently violent, both socially and ecologically. Pohl and Kornbluth’s book looks at the ways capital’s symbology destroys realities that would signa l the need for other economic paths; Le Guin’s book narrates the host of social and ecological abuses that capitalist production requires; and Robinson’s books c ontinue Le Guin’s observations of capitalist avarice. But out of these three works, only Robinson’ s series directly imagines an economic system alternative to the corporate regime. Against the growth-cente red and ecologically blind economic system imposed on the newly settled Mars, the Mars trilogy presents a counter model of economics: eco-economics. Thought up by the biological team of Vladimir Taneev and Marina Tokareva, eco-economics places value on individuals according to their biological contributions to the ecosystem: “‘Everyone should make their living, so to speak, base d on a calculation of their re al contribution to the human ecology’” ( Red Mars 298). Detailing the eco-economy fu rther in a rousing speech in Red Mars John Boone declares, “‘what you take from the system ha s to be balanced by what you give in to it, balanced or exceeded to create that anti-entropic surge which characterizes all cr eative life’” (378). In their related assertions, Vlad, Marina and John realize collectively that a “living,” ecologically defined, is determin ed by one’s production of use-values with respect to ecosystemic integrity, with respect to the functions of inte rrelated life. Kovel writes, “The work of life, and the intricate da nce of energy and form that goes into it, are essential enterprises to stave off and re verse the Second Law [of Thermodynamics],” which says that entropy—the loss of energy we know as death—increases over time (95).

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163 Life is anti-entropic in that it is in constant struggle with entropy. But individuals of any species cannot succeed in this struggle alone. “[E]ach creature is insufficient in-itself,” because “life must exist in rela tion to other life and to nature as a whole if it is to contend with the Second Law” (Kovel 95). Blind to this fundamental eco logical principle, capitalism functions under the mythology that on ly return on investment determines the success or failure of an economic venture. Under an eco-econo my, though, the success or failure of an economic project is determined by the degree to which it can be continued across generations without threatening the ecosy stemic relationships that facilitate the “anti-entropic surge.” The sustainable deve lopment expert Herman E. Daly writes, An economy in sustainable development adapts and improves in knowledge, organization, technical efficiency, and wi sdom; it does this without assimilating or accreting an ever greater percentage of the matter-energy of the ecosystem into itself but rather stops at a scale at whic h the remaining ecosystem can continue to function and renew itself y ear after year. (195) In theory, eco-economics is inherently nonvi olent; rather than exploitively managing ecology and society—or “resources” and “l abor”—eco-economics is managed by ecology and society, never violating the bounda ries that ecology and social life impose upon markets. For the Martian society of the Mars trilogy, the eco-economic model becomes the most viable model for limiting the influence of capital on the fragile Martian ecosystem. Having finally gained independence from the Ea rth’s corporate institutions, the leaders of Mars in Blue Mars organize a congress to establish an official Martian government. Of course, Mars is a completely new social, political, economic, and environmental situation; thus it is difficult for these leaders to turn to historical models for help in creating their political system. Despite all th e possible conflicts i nherent in trying to form a new system, though, the issue that pr ovokes the most debate is land-use, an

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164 environmental concern. While much of this debate revolves around the terraforming of Mars, it also involves finding an economic syst em that stresses not the exchange-value of the land but the ethical importance of a sustainable and sufficient economy. Phyllis defends capitalism in both Red Mars and Green Mars and her sentiments are repeated in Blue Mars by another character: Antar. At the end of the chapter entitled “A New Constitution,” Antar claims that the eco-economic model of the Martian economy “‘is a radical and unprecedented intrusi on of government into business’” (141). Unconvinced, Vlad outlines the eco-economic system, which provides the equal rights and self-rule that the hierarch ical structure of capitalism cannot. Environmentally, such an egalitarian democracy also requires a view of the land that opposes capitalist paradigms. As Vlad states, “‘the world is so mething we all steward together’” rather than exploit privately (144). Importa nt in the eco-economic model, then, is its synthesis of socialist elements—workers owning the mean s of production and “‘hiring capital rather than the other way around,’” for example—w ith ecological elements (147). Nonviolent stewardship becomes everyone’s responsibilit y, and environmental courts “‘estimate the real and complete environmental costs of ec onomic activities, and help to coordinate plans that impact the environment’” (146). Ultimately, the eco-economic model is voted in, and the Martian civilization becomes a biotic citizenry through a new economic paradigm that values ecosystemic integrity. Deeply interested in political economy, the Mars trilogy carries more than an economic message reflecting ecos ocialist principles. It al so manifests a politics of differentiation important for the way ecosocial ism thinks about economic production. To reiterate, differentiated relationships are re lationships in which ecosystemic elements—

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165 humans and all other species in ecological interaction—operate toge ther and totally in mutual recognition. Socio-politically, diffe rentiation brings together minds “in a dialogical spirit of open di scourse—a process the fulfilment of which requires a free society of associated producers, that is a society beyond all forms of splitting, in particular those imposed by class and gende r or racial domination” (Kovel 140). The dialogical spirit enables knowledge unacceptable in the ideological fr amework of capital, which cannot allow indigenous being, for exampl e, or cultural pract ices that interfere with economic expansionism. The dialogical spirit also encourages an open political atmosphere inherently resistant to closur e, to the illusions of definitiveness and inevitability that characterize the laissez faire creed. The Mars trilogy engages the dialogical spirit formally, with Robinson modeling the very nature of differentiated social re lationships that ecosocialism envisions. For example, Ann Clayborne and Sax are char acters who embody the novels’ important political dialogue between pure science and applied science, respectively, and whose perspectives obtain more radical polarities in the extremist Red movement (which wants no terraforming at all) and in the equally ex tremist movement of capital (which, as noted above, advocates mega-terraformation). Furt her, on top of Ann a nd Sax’s trilogy-wide struggle with their respective positions Robins on layers the spirituality of the character Hiroko Ai, whose “areophany” is “a kind of la ndscape religion, a consciousness of Mars as a physical space suffused with kami which was the spiritual energy or power that rested in the land itself” ( Red Mars 125). Arkady Bogdanov leads an architectural movement reflecting his own Marxism, wan ting to redesign the Mars settlements to spatially deny social hierarchy; and Phyllis a Christian who supports Biblical dominion

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166 rhetoric and conflates capitalism with Manifest Destiny, contests Ar kady’s utopianism. Despite the reader’s possible desire to see al l of these and the trilogy’s other perspectives tied up in a completed vision of settled Ma rs, in no way does Robinson render a closed socio-political space. Instead, the comp letion and closure Robinson does envision is precisely incompletion and openne ss, a dialogical political system whose final closure would only prompt a more rapid entropy—just as earlier in the trilogy the imposition of monolithic capital, in the form of rapid terraforming, expresses itself on the Martian landscape in the form of industrial waste and violent floods and avalanches. Arguments about Robinson’s dialogical form make up much of the critical literature on the Mars trilogy, with commentators both que stioning and appr eciating it. For example, Yanarella argues that the trilogy’s “polyphony of subject-positions” is a “narrative ploy [acting] as an authorial ru se to exonerate Robinson of the apparent responsibility for choosing or determining the outcome of th e terraforming controversy and the fate of the Martian experiment” (280). William Dynes does not see such a problem, writing instead, Read as a whole, the Mars series ev okes a utopian call for community: of wholeness within the self, within interper sonal relationships, within political and economic entities, within the species itself. This unity, however, comes not through a creation of shared identity, nor through a hierarchic al subordination of the many to the few. Rather, true comm unity is realized in syncretism—messy, complicated, frustrating, but in the end enriching and fruitful. (151) And Jameson maintains the same, speaking of the trilogy as a welcomed achievement in utopian fiction: “The utopian text is not s upposed to produce [. .] synthesis all by itself or to represent it: that is a matter for human history and for collective praxis. It is supposed only to produce the requirement of the synthesis, to open the space into which it is to be imagined” (409). The Mars trilogy’s polyphony is a ri chly utopian, even

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167 ecotopian, polyphony that in recognizing differe ntiated social relationships opens the space for a revolutionary imagining of an economy and politics th at like ecology itself engages a necessary struggle against entropy by remaining open to inputs. Conclusion Speaking of the Mars trilogy’s eco-economy, Robert Markley notes, “Restricting consumption becomes a far more effective means to increase one’s value to the system than accelerating production because producti on invariably strains scarce resources” (776). With an eco-economy in place, The Space Merchants ’ Fowler Shocken and The Word for World is Forest ’s Don Davidson would go bankrupt, their productions valueless in an ecologically conscious economy that pena lizes any use of res ources and labor that threatens eco-social integrity. Strategically void of an ecological conscience with its ideology of private gain, capitalism “does not recognize basic ecological concepts of sustainable yield nor does it re spect the balances of natur e” (Brown 78). Indeed, such recognition would harm the growth -economy’s existence; for, as The Space Merchants The Word for World is Forest and the Mars books show, the enterprise of forever increasing material wealth and supplyi ng industry-created consumer demand is incompatible with ecological evidence that mate rial is finite and so ciological evidence that privatizing and commodifying place and people has dire cultural consequences.

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168 CHAPTER 7 CONCLUSION: FROM FICTION TO ACTION In their 1991 non-fiction study of the state of the environment Our Angry Earth the science fiction writers Isaac Asimov and Frederik Pohl assert the value of futurological study for environmentalism: “The major, if not the only, utility of future studies lies in the ways in which their projections can help id entify future problems, events or needs, so that, with the information the forecasts give us, we can do something now to bring about the desirable outcomes and try to avert the bad ones” (27). Asimov and Pohl’s book is not about science fiction, nor do the authors promote their genre as ecological futurology. But the claim that science fiction is “a handmai den of futurological foresight in [. .] ecology” was made by Darko Suvin in 1976 (67). Science fiction, to be sure, is not the literature of prediction, if prediction implies prophesizing “what will happen” (Nicholls 957). But considering, for exampl e, Stapledon’s foresight in Last and First Men that the modern world’s excessive consumption rates th reaten to bring about global catastrophe and Pohl and Kornbluth’s foresight in The Space Merchants that the logical end of the capitalist advertising complex is a rampant pos tindustrial state, SF is the literature of “what could happen” (Nicholls 957). And as other works in this study show, ecological science fiction is more than extrapolation. It also reflects on what it is in the now that is responsible for environmental degradation; it is “a way of tryi ng to describe what is in fact going on” (Le Guin, “The Carrier Bag” 154). Ecotopia and Woman on the Edge of Time argue, among other things, that modern humanity is t oo physically, intellectually, and spiritually

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169 disconnected from the nonhuman world, and that this disconnection has resulted in weak communities and deteriorated ecosystems. The Wanderground Always Coming Home and A Door Into Ocean criticize patriarchy as the ideological foundation upon which is built the subjugation of the nonhuman world by modern humans. And The Space Merchants The Word for World is Forest and the Mars trilogy all disparage capitalist economic paradigms. Whether as futurol ogy or as cognitive estrangement, science fiction invigorates the ecological conscience. Real change, however, is the principa l goal of environmentalism. Ecological systems are material systems, dependent on the flow of energy and the circulation of matter through complex food chains and within complex and specific physical conditions. Environmental groups such as Earth First! and the Sea Sh epherd Conservation Society directly engage these material conditions, li miting the influence of exploitive objects— whaling boats, chain saws, or driftnets, for example—on ecosystems. But as the environmental politics profe ssor Paul Wapner argues in his defense of Greenpeace’s symbolic activism, “human behavior is a ma tter of oriented action by which people process experience into action through general conceptions of the world. At the most general level, then, the first st ep toward protecting the eart h is to change the way vast numbers of people understand it” (306). “Ideas shape mate rial reality” (311), Wapner declares in his support of a “transformative po litics” in which the revision of ideational perspectives is, along with direct action, an important environmentalist endeavor (314). Wapner’s support of a transformative pol itics is more a specific support of Greenpeace’s banner hanging than it is of othe r types of symbolic activities. But if environmentalism “involves changing the prev ailing economic, political moral, cultural,

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170 and social dispositions of society which support environmental degradation,” then any form of symbolic activity—including literature—that engages these dispositions is important for the movement (Wapner 311). In a response to an interview with writer and activist Janisse Ray, in which Ray affirms th e value of books for saving wild places, I wrote, “writing is an essential part of ecological health ” (147). It was my belief then, as it is still, that nature-orien ted literature supports ecological fitness by disseminating conceptual understandings that counter ecologically illiterate and de structive ways of knowing and being. Literature—a symbolic mode of Homo sapiens sapiens —is vital for stimulating the types of ideological shifts required for the material fitness of ecosystems whose current abuse results from cultural, religious, political, a nd economic ideologies deliberately ignorant of humanity’s fundame ntal connectedness to the nonhuman world. The science fiction works reviewed in th is study are literature s of the ecological conscience, literatures theorizing the restor ation of this connectedness from a multitude of perspectives. Indeed, science fiction’s narrative “territories”—to borrow again from Landon—often seem impossibly distanced from th e interests of environmentalism, what with their explorations into terraformation ( Dune and the Mars trilogy), technocentric reproduction ( Woman on the Edge of Time ), and worlds with socio-ecologic systems drastically different from those of the Earth ( A Door Into Ocean ). But despite their generic obligations to imagine the technological and biological fantastic, the texts studied in this dissertation exercise these obligations to extrapolate and estrange in order to call for a general recognition that many modern in stitutions have abandoned the biological reality that humans are “plain member[s] a nd citizen[s]” of an interconnected biotic community (Leopold 204). Aldo Leopold writes “man-made changes are of a different

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171 order than evolutionary changes, and have e ffects more comprehensive than is intended or foreseen” (218). Leopold does not speak of science fiction in A Sand County Almanac but his assertion seems to motivate an environmentalist science fiction subgenre that accepts as its narra tive task to question the intent ions of modern humanity, to foresee the consequences of ill-advised huma n actions, and ultimately to bring about a transformative ecological conscience that manifests itself in changed human actions.

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172 LIST OF REFERENCES Abbey, Edward. Desert Solitaire: A Season in the Wilderness New York: Ballantine, 1968. Armstrong, Jeannette. “‘Sharing One Skin ’: Okanagan Community.” Mander and Goldsmith 460-470. Asimov, Isaac, and Frederik Pohl. Our Angry Earth New York: Doherty, 1991. Austin, Mary. The Land of Little Rain 1903. New York: Dover, 1996. Barr, Marleen S. Feminist Fabulation: Space/Postmodern Fiction Iowa City: U of Iowa P, 1992. Biehl, Janet. Finding Our Way: Rethinking Ecofeminist Politics Montreal: Black Rose, 1991. Birkeland, Janis. “Ecofeminism: Li nking Theory and Practice.” Gaard 13-59. Bowers, C.A. Education, Cultural Myths, and the Ec ological Crisis: Toward Deep Changes Albany: State U of New York P, 1993. Brown, Lester R. Eco-Economy: Building an Economy for the Earth New York: Norton, 2001. Brunner, John. The Sheep Look Up Dallas: BenBella, 1972. -. Stand on Zanzibar London: Gollancz, 1968. Bukeavich, Neal. “‘Are We Adopting the Right Measures to Cope?’”: Ecocrisis in John Brunner’s Stand on Zanzibar .” Science Fiction Studies 29.1 (2002): 53-70. Byrd, David G. “George R. Stewart.” Dictionary of Literary Biography, Volume 8: Twentieth-Century American Science-Fiction Writers Eds. David Cowart and Thomas L. Wyner. 1981. The Gale Group. 26 Nov. 2004 < http://galenet.galegroup.com.lp.hscl.ufl.e du/servlet/LitRC?vrsn=3&locID=gain40 375&srchtp=kywrd&c=4&ste=36&tab=1 &tbst=ksrch&n=10&KA="Earth+Abides "&docNum=H1200002083&bConts=4197015 >. Caldwell, John. George R. Stewart Boise: Boise State UP, 1981. Callenbach, Ernest. Ecotopia New York: Bantam, 1975.

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173 Campbell, John W., Jr. “Twilight.” The Ends of Time: Eight Stories of Science Fiction Ed. Robert Silverberg. Ne w York: Hawthorne, 1970. 48-76. Capra, Fritjof. “Deep Ecology: A New Paradigm.” Sessions 19-25. Carson, Rachel. Silent Spring Boston: Houghton, 1962. Christopher, John. No Blade of Grass New York: Avon, 1956. Clarke, Tony. “Mechanisms of Corpor ate Rule.” Mander and Goldsmith 297-308. Clute, John, and Peter Nicholls, eds. The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction New York: St. Martin’s, 1995. Collard, Andre. Rape of the Wild: Man’s Viol ence against Animals and the Earth Bloomington: Indiana UP, 1989. Commoner, Barry. The Closing Circle: Nature, Man, and Technology New York: Knopf, 1980. “Conscience.” The Oxford English Dictionary 2nd ed. Oxford: Oxford UP, 1991. Cooper, David E. “Arne Naess.” Fifty Key Thinkers on the Environment Eds. Joy A. Palmer, David E. Cooper, and Peter Blaze Corcoran. London: Routledge, 2001. 211-216. Cooper, James Fenimore. The Pioneers, or The Sour ces of the Susquehanna: A Descriptive Tale 1823. New York: Signet, 1964. Daly, Herman E. “Sustainable Growth? No Thank You.” Mander and Goldsmith 192196. Devall, Bill. “Deep Ecology and Radical Environmentalism.” American Environmentalism: The U.S. En vironmental Movement, 1970-1990 Eds. Riley E. Dunlap and Angela G. Mertig. Ne w York: Taylor and Francis, 1992. 51-62. Devall, Bill, and George Sessions. Deep Ecology: Living as if Nature Mattered Salt Lake City: Gibbs Smith, 1985. Diamond, Irene, and Gloria Feman Orenstein, eds. Reweaving the World: The Emergence of Ecofeminism San Francisco: Sierra Club, 1990. Dobrin, Sidney I., and Ch ristian R. Weisser. Natural Discourse: Toward Ecocomposition Albany: State U of New York P, 2002. Drake, Barbara. “Two Utopias: Marge Piercy’s Woman on the Edge of Time and Ursula Le Guin’s The Dispossessed .” Still the Frame Holds: Essays on Women Poets and Writers Eds. Sheila Roberts and Yvonne P acheco Tevis. San Bernadino: Borgo, 1993. 109-127.

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175 Gough, Noel. “Playing With Wor(l)ds: Scien ce Fiction as Environmental Literature.” Literature of Nature: An International Sourcebook Eds. Patrick D. Murphy, Terry Gifford, and Katsunori Yamazato. London: Fitzroy, 1998. 409-414. Gruen, Lori. “Dismantling Oppression: An Analysis of the Connection Between Women and Animals.” Gaard 60-90. Hardin, Garrett. Filters Against Folly: How to Survi ve Despite Economists, Ecologists, and the Merely Eloquent New York: Viking, 1985. Heise, Ursula K. “Letter.” PMLA 114.5 (1999): 1096-1097. Heller, Chaia. “For the Love of Nature: Ecology and the Cult of the Romantic.” Gaard 219-242. Herbert, Frank. Dune Messiah New York: Ace, 1969. -. Dune New York: Ace, 1965. Herman, A.L. Community, Violence, Peace: Aldo Leopold, Mohandas K. Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr., and Gautama the Buddha in the Twenty-First Century New York: State U of New York P, 1999. Hockett, Charles F., and Robert Ascher. “The Human Revolution.” Shepard and McKinley 13-42. Hovanec, Carol P. “Visions of Nature in The Word for World is Forest : A Mirror of the American Consciousness.” Extrapolation 30.1 (1989): 84-92. Howard, June. “Widening the Dialogue on Feminist Science Fiction.” Feminist ReVisions: What Has Been and Might Be Eds. Vivian Patraka and Louise A. Tilly. Ann Arbor: U of Michigan P, 1983. 64-96. Huntington, John. Rationalizing Genius: Ideological St rategies in the Classic American Science Fiction Short Story New Brunswick: Rutgers UP, 1989. Illich, Ivan. “Dwelling: How to Tell a Resident from an Inhabitant.” CoEvolution Quarterly 41 (Spring 1984): 22-27. James, Edward. Science Fiction in the 20th Century Oxford: Oxford UP, 1994. Jameson, Fredric. Archaeologies of the Future: Th e Desire Called Utopia and Other Science Fictions London: Verso, 2005. Kennedy, Robert F., Jr. Crimes Against Nature: How George W. Bush and His Corporate Pals Are Plundering the Country and Hijacking Our Democracy New York: HarperCollins, 2004.

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176 Kerridge, Richard. “Introduction.” Writing the Environmen t: Ecocriticism and Literature Eds. Richard Kerridge and Neil Sammells. London: Zed, 1998. 1-9. Khor, Martin. “Global Economy and the Th ird World.” Mander and Goldsmith 47-59. King, Stephen. Danse Macabre New York: Berkley, 1981. King, Ynestra. “The Ecology of Feminism a nd the Feminism of Ecology.” Plant 18-28. -. “Healing the Wounds: Feminism, Ecology, and the Nature/Culture Dualism.” Diamond and Orenstein 106-121. Kovel, Joel. The Enemy of Nature: The End of C apitalism or The End of the World? London: Zed, 2002. LaChapelle, Dolores. “Ritual is Es sential.” Devall a nd Sessions 247-250. Lahar, Stephanie. “Roots: Rejoining Natural and Social Hi story.” Gaard 91-117. Landon, Brooks. Science Fiction After 1900: From Steam Man to the Stars New York: Twain, 1997. Leach, Melissa. Rainforest Relations: Gender and Resource Use among the Mende of Gola, Sierra Leone London: Edinburgh UP, 1994. Lefanu, Sarah. Feminism and Science Fiction Bloomington: Indiana UP, 1988. Le Guin, Ursula K. “The Carrier Bag Theory of Fiction.” Glotfelty and Fromm 149-154. -. Always Coming Home Berkeley: U of California P, 1985. -. The Word For World is Forest New York: Berkley, 1972. Leopold, Aldo. A Sand County Almanac: And Sketches Here and There New York: Oxford UP, 1949. Maciunas, Billie. “Feminist Epistemology in Piercy’s Woman on the Edge of Time .” Women’s Studies 20 (1992): 249-258. Mander, Jerry, and Edward Goldsmith, eds. The Case Against the Global Economy and For a Turn Toward the Local San Francisco: Sierra Club, 1996. Marber, Peter. Money Changes Everything: How Gl obal Prosperity is Reshaping Our Needs, Values, and Lifestyles Upper Saddle River: Pearson, 2003. Marchesani, Joseph. “Science Fiction and Fantasy.” GLBTQ Eds. Claude J. Summers and Ted-Larry Pebworth. 5 Nov. 2006. < http://www.glbtq.com/literature/scifi_fantasy.html >.

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177 Markley, Robert. “Falling into Theory: Simulation, Terraformation, and Eco-Economics in Kim Stanley Robinson’s Martian Trilogy.” Modern Fiction Studies 43.3 (1997): 773-799. McCay, Mary A. “Carson, R achel (1907-1964).” Taylor, Encyclopedia McClintock, James I. Nature’s Kindred Spirits: Aldo Leopold, Joseph Wood Crutch, Edward Abbey, Annie Dillard, and Gary Snyder Madison: U of Wisconsin P, 1994. McKibben, Bill. The End of Nature New York: Anchor, 1989. Meine, Curt. “Leopold, Aldo (1887-1949).” Taylor, Encyclopedia M’Gonigle, R. Michael. “The Political Economy of Precaution.” Protecting Public Health and the Environment: Implem enting the Precautionary Principle Eds. Carolyn Raffensperger and Joel Tickne r. Washington, DC: Island, 123-147. Moylan, Tom. Scraps of the Untainted Sky: Science Fiction, Utopia, Dystopia Boulder: Westview, 2000. -. Demand the Impossible: Science Fiction and the Utopian Imagination New York: Methuen, 1986. Murphy, Patrick D. “The Non-Alibi of Alien Scapes: SF and Ecocriticism.” Beyond Nature Writing: Expanding the Boundaries of Ecocriticism Eds. Karla Armbruster and Kathleen R. Wallace. Char lottesville: UP of Virginia, 2001. 263278. -. Farther Afield in the Study of Nature-Oriented Literature Charlottesville: UP of Virginia, 2000. Naess, Arne. “The Shallow and the Deep, Long-Range Ecology Movements: A Summary.” Sessions 151-155. -. “Deep Ecology and Li festyle.” Sessions 259-261. Nash, Roderick Frazier. Wilderness and the American Mind 4th ed. New Haven: Yale UP, 2001. Nicholls, Peter. “Predicti on.” Clute and Nicholls 957-958. O’Reilly, Timothy. Frank Herbert New York: Frederick Ungar, 1981. Orr, David W. Ecological Literacy: Education and the Transition to a Postmodern World Albany: State U of New York P, 1992.

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178 Ortner, Sherry B. “Is Female to Male as Nature is to Culture?” Readings in Ecology and Feminist Theology Eds. Mary Heather MacKinnon and Moni McIntyre. Kansas City: Sheed & Ward, 1995. 36-55. Otto, Eric. “Ecocomposition, Activist Writing, and Natural Ecosystems: A Response to Janisse Ray.” Writing Environments Eds. Sidney I. Dobrin and Christopher J. Keller. Albany: State U of New York P, 2005. 143-148. -. “Kim Stanley Robinson’s Mars Trilogy and the Leopoldian Land Ethic.” Utopian Studies 14.2 (2003): 118-135. Payne, Tonia L. “‘Home is a Place Where You Have Never Been’: Connections With the Other in Ursula Le Guin’s Fiction.” A.U.M.L.A. 96 (2001): 189-206. Piercy, Marge. Woman on the Edge of Time New York: Fawcett, 1976. Plant, Judith. “Sear ching for Common Ground: Ecofem inism and Bioregionalism.” Diamond and Orenstein 155-161. -, ed. Healing the Wounds: The Promise of Ecofeminism Philadelphia: New Society, 1989. Pohl, Frederik, and C. M. Kornbluth. The Space Merchants New York: St. Martin’s, 1952. Quinby, Lee. “Ecofeminism and the Politic s of Resistance.” Diamond and Orenstein 122-127. Ray, Janisse. Ecology of a Cracker Childhood Minneapolis: Milkweed, 1999. Robinson, Frank M. Book of Science Fiction Art of Imagination: 20th Century Visions of Science Fiction, Horror, and Fantasy Eds. Frank M. Robinson, Robert Weinberg, and Randy Broeker. Po rtland: Collector’s, 2002. 13-262. Robinson, Kim Stanley. Blue Mars New York: Bantam, 1996. -. Green Mars New York: Bantam, 1994. -. Red Mars New York: Bantam, 1993. Sale, Kirkpatrick. The Green Revolution: The American Environmental Movement 1962-1992 New York: Hill and Wang, 1993. Sargent, Lyman Tower. “The Thr ee Faces of Utopianism Revisited.” Utopian Studies 5.1 (1994): 1-37. Scigaj, Leonard M. “ Prana and the Presbyterian Fixation: Ecology and Technology in Frank Herbert’s Dune Tetralogy.” Extrapolation 24.4 (1983): 340-355.

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180 Suvin, Darko. “On the Poetics of the Science Fiction Genre.” Science Fiction: A Collection of Critical Essays Ed. Mark Rose. Englewood Cliffs: Prentice, 1976. 57-71. Taylor, Betsy, and Dave Tilford. “Why Consumption Matters.” The Consumer Siciety Reader Eds. Juliet B. Schor and Douglas B. Holt. The New Press: New York, 2000. 463-487. Taylor, Bron R., ed. The Encyclopedia of Religion and Nature 2 vols. London: Thoemmes, 2005. -. “Environmental Ethics.” Taylor, Encyclopedia -. “Snyder, Gary (1930-)-and the Invention of Bioregional Spirituality and Politics.” Taylor, Encyclopedia -. “Earth and Nature-Based Spiritualit y (Part I): From Deep Ecology to Radical Environmentalism.” Religion 31 (2001): 175-193. Thoreau, Henry David. Walden and Civil Disobedience New York: Penguin, 1983. Tokar, Brian. Earth for Sale: Reclaiming Ecology in the Age of Corporate Greenwash Cambridge: South End, 1997. Twitchell, James B. Living it Up: Our Love Affair with Luxury New York: Columbia UP, 2002. Wackernagel, Mathis, and William Rees. Our Ecological Footprint: Reducing Human Impact on the Earth Gabriola Island: New Society, 1996. Wapner, Paul. “In Defense of Banner Ha ngers: The Dark Gr een Politics of Greenpeace.” Ecological Resistance Movements : The Global Emergence of Radical and Popular Environmentalism Ed. Bron Raymond Taylor. Albany: State U of New York P, 1995. 300-314. Warren, Karen J. Ecofeminist Philosophy: A Western Perspective on What it is and Why it Matters Lanham: Rowman, 2000. Watkins, Evan. Everyday Exchanges: Marketwork and Capitalist Common Sense Stanford: Stanford UP, 1998. Wegner, Phillip E. “Jameson’s Modernisms.” Forthcoming, 2006. -. “Here or Nowhere: Urbanization, Globalization, and Totality in Contemporary Theory.” Unpublished essay, 2005. -. Imaginary Communities: Utopia, the Nation, and the Spatial Histories of Modernity Berkeley: U of California P, 2002.

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181 Whitman, Walt. “Sea-Drift.” 1881. Leaves of Grass Eds. Sculley Bradley and Harold W. Blodgett. New York: Norton, 1973. 246-263. Willis, Gary. “Le Guin’s The Left Hand of Darkness : The Weaving Together of Dualities.” Riverside Quarterly 8.1 (1986): 36-43. Wolmark, Jenny. Aliens and Others: Science Fic tion, Feminism and Postmodernism Iowa City: U of Iowa P, 1994. Wordsworth, William. “Nutting.” 1799. William Wordsworth: The Poems Ed. John O. Hayden. Vol. 1. London: Penguin, 1977. 367-369. Worster, Donald. Nature’s Economy: A History of Ecological Ideas 2nd ed. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1994. Yanarella, Ernest J. The Cross, the Plow, and the S kyline: Contemporary Science Fiction and the Ecological Imagination Parkland: Brown Walker, 2001.

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182 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH Eric Otto graduated from Florida Gulf Coast University in May 2000 with a Bachelor of Arts in English. He then attended the University of Florida, where he earned a Master of Arts in English in 2002 and contin ued in the graduate program at UF to earn his Ph.D. in English in 2006.


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SCIENCE FICTION AND THE ECOLOGICAL CONSCIENCE


By

ERIC OTTO















A DISSERTATION PRESENTED TO THE GRADUATE SCHOOL
OF THE UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT
OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF
DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY

UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA


2006

































Copyright 2006

by

Eric Otto

































This is for Tricia and Beatrice















ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

My dissertation chair, Andrew Gordon, has enthusiastically backed my ideas and

provided extensive commentary on drafts of this study, and for that I thank him. I also

thank Sid Dobrin, Bron Taylor, and Phil Wegner for the time and effort they put into

working on my dissertation committee. I appreciate the encouraging words of my

colleagues at Florida Gulf Coast University and thank them for welcoming me into their

family. I thank my mom, Sandy, and my dad, Joe, for their support over the years and

also extend this thanks to my sister, Tracy, and my brothers, Joey, Casey, Ricky, and

Chad. Finally, and for so many reasons, I thank my wife, Tricia, and my daughter,

Beatrice.
















TABLE OF CONTENTS



A C K N O W L E D G M E N T S ................................................................................................. iv

ABSTRACT ............... ....................... ......... .............. vii

CHAPTER

1 IN T R O D U C T IO N ............................................................................. .............. ...

2 SCIENCE FICTION AND THE ECOLOGICAL CONSCIENCE..............................6

T he E cological C on science................................................................ .....................8
W hy Science F action? ...................... .. .. ...................... .. .. ...... .... ...........12
C conclusion ...................................................................................................... ....... 20

3 THE SUBVERSIVE SUBJECT OF ECOLOGY...........................................23

Subversive Ecology in Early Science Fiction: Some Considerations .....................28
Last and F first M en ......... ........ ....... ........ .............. .... 30
"Twilight" .................................................................................................. ........34
Earth Abides ............. ............... ............... .......................38
D u n e ................................................................4 7
C o n c lu sio n ...................... .. ............. .. .....................................................5 6

4 ECOTOPIA, DYS(ECO)TOPIA, AND THE VISIONS OF DEEP ECOLOGY .......58

Deep Ecology, Ecotopia, and Woman on the Edge of Time ............... ...............61
Population and Economy .................................. ....................... .............63
Perception, Community, and Ecocentric Living ..................................... 70
Deep Ecology and the Dys(eco)topian Visions of John Brunner ............... ...............77
Stand on Zanzibar .................................................... ............................ ....79
Th e Sh eep L ook Up ........................................................................................ 85
C conclusion ............................................................................................... 94

5 ECOFEMINIST SCIENCE FICTION ................................ ........ .......96

Negotiating Ecofeminist Territories I: Essentialism and the Ecological
Conscience of W om an ........................................... ...................................98
The W underground ...... .............. .................................. .. ................ .. 105









Always Com ing H om e ......................................................... ............... 110
A D oor Into O cean .................................................................. ...... .........118
Negotiating Ecofeminist Territories II: Social Constructionist Ecofeminism and
the Lim its of Essentialism ........................................................ ............... 23
C onclu sion .............. ...................................................... .. ............ 135

6 TOWARD AN ECOLOGICALLY CONSCIOUS POLITICAL ECONOMY:
ECOSOCIALIST REFLECTIONS ................. ................................ 137

Ecosocialism .............. ......... ..... ...... .......... ............... .........139
The Space M merchants ................................................................. ............... 145
The Word for World is Forest........ .................... ............... 152
The M ars Trilogy and the Eco-Economy................................ ...................... 158
C onclu sion ..................................................................................................... 167

7 CONCLUSION: FROM FICTION TO ACTION........................................168

L IST O F R E F E R E N C E S ...................................................................... ..................... 172

BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH ............................................................. ............... 182















Abstract of Dissertation Presented to the Graduate School
of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the
Requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy

SCIENCE FICTION AND THE ECOLOGICAL CONSCIENCE

By

Eric Otto

May 2006

Chair: Andrew Gordon
Major Department: English

Central to early environmentalist Aldo Leopold's thinking, the ecological

conscience leads individuals, institutions, and societies to understand human existence as

a part of ecosystemic integrity-rather than apart from it-and to behave accordingly.

An ecocritical literary study, this dissertation observes multiple expressions of this

ecological conscience in several works of science fiction (SF). Various philosophical and

theoretical insights into why modem culture lacks an ecological conscience emerged with

Twentieth-Century environmentalism, including the science of ecology itself, deep

ecology, ecofeminism, and ecosocialism. The chapters of this study locate narrative

efforts in SF to perform the ecocritical, conscience-building work of environmental

philosophy and theory. For example, George R. Stewart's Earth Abides (1949) asserts

the essential animality of the human species, challenging the human/nature dichotomy so

central to modern ideologies. Marge Piercy's Woman on the Edge of Time (1976)-a

work of ecotopian fiction-speculates on many of the cultural changes advocated by deep

ecology, an environmental philosophy critical of Western civilization's human-









centeredness. Joan Slonczewski's A Door Into Ocean (1986) relates the oppression of

nature by humans to the oppression of women by men, but turns a critical eye toward

ecofeminist understandings that are too essentialist. And Kim Stanley Robinson's Mars

trilogy (1993, 1994, 1996) narrates the possibility of an eco-economy, an ecologically

sustainable economic system that eschews destructive capitalist economic paradigms.

Ultimately, this dissertation shows that science fiction is actively engaged in ecological

work, in a "transformative politics" that operates on the conceptual level to encourage an

ecological conscience that in the end will manifest itself in revised human actions.














CHAPTER 1
INTRODUCTION

The science fiction (SF) scholar Carl Freedman writes in his book Critical Theory

and Science Fiction, "I do believe that both critical theory and science fiction have the

potential to play a role in the liberation of humanity from oppression" (xx).

"[U]nswervingly oppositional," critical theory invigorates liberatory consciousness

because it challenges in so many ways hegemonic intellectual, social, and political

constructs (8). Marxist theory opposes capitalist structures; psychoanalytic theory

counters simplified models of knowledge; poststructuralism questions the totalizing

impulses of theory itself; and feminist theory targets patriarchal social paradigms. To

exercise critical theory is thus to intervene in dominant modes of thinking and being and

to challenge what is inherently limiting, oppressive, or dangerous in these modes.

If theory "constantly shows that things are not what they seem to be and that things

need not eternally be as they are," as Freedman observes, then by its generic nature

science fiction is the literature of critical interrogation (8). As Brooks Landon shows,

science fiction resists concrete definitions; but, he admits, "we have a pretty good idea of

the kinds of territory it covers and the kinds of experiences we can expect in those

territories" (32). Science fiction territories include considering how science and

technology affect humanity, focusing on affairs more significant than the fate of one

individual or community, and speculating on conceptual innovations that challenge

traditional constructs of knowledge and being (31-33). Most importantly, science fiction

is about problems of the now and encourages critical reflection on these problems. As









such, SF performs in narrative critical theory's revisionary and oppositional speculations,

ultimately contemplating the result of potential changes in the ideological status quo for a

better human existence on the Earth.

This dissertation takes seriously Freedman's claim about the liberatory value of

science fiction, only its focus is on the ecological dimensions of SF and the role

ecocritical theory can play in freeing ecological systems from current forms of human

domination. Ecocritic Cheryll Glotfelty asserts that the common motivation behind all

ecocritical analysis is "the troubling awareness that we have reached the age of

environmental limits, a time when the consequences of human actions are damaging the

planet's basic life support systems" (xx). An ecocritical study sharing this awareness,

this dissertation finds in a range of science fiction narratives an interest in energizing

what Aldo Leopold has called "the ecological conscience," the intellectual, spiritual, and

practical understanding that humans do not exist apart from natural systems and that all

human actions must ensue accordingly to preserve ecosystemic integrity. Chapter 1

defines in more detail the ecological conscience as it also discusses why science fiction is

an appropriate genre for ecological thought.

In the subsequent four chapters of this study I read a range of science fiction texts

as informing and informed by various manifestations of the ecological conscience in

ecocritical discourse. Chapter 2, "The Subversive Subject of Ecology," reviews the idea

that the conceptual understandings of the science of ecology inherently subvert dominant

epistemological and ontological paradigms and as a result challenge much of the modem

world's social and political architecture. Early science fiction works-those published

prior to the appearance of modem environmentalism in the late 1960s as well as prior to









the expansion of the SF genre around the same time-are unlikely to pose the types of

ecocritical questions that more recent narratives have found the philosophical resources

to ask. But if not aware of the rich theoretical future of environmentalism, Olaf

Stapledon's Last and First Men (1931), John W. Cambell's "Twilight" (1934), George R.

Stewart's Earth Abides (1949), and Frank Herbert's Dune (1965) do demonstrate an

ecological literacy that leads to profound questions about the role and actions of

humanity in the interconnected, ecological world.

Ecological awareness has, since the 1960s, inspired not one univocal expression of

the ecological conscience but several perspectives on ecological crisis. Chapter 3,

"Ecotopia, Dys(eco)topia, and the Visions of Deep Ecology," examines deep ecology-

one of these perspectives-and the ways utopian and dystopian science fiction advocate

many of its tenets. Deep ecology argues for the full expression of existence for all

species and notes that the modem trend toward human-centeredness, or

anthropocentrism, prevents this from occurring. Utopian texts such as Ernest

Callenbach's Ecotopia (1975) and Marge Piercy's Woman on the Edge of Time (1976)

envision physical and intellectual spaces where anthropocentric reasoning gives way to

ecologically-centered lifestyles. And in contrast, though still deep ecological in their

interests, John Brunner's dystopian Stand on Zanzibar (1968) and The Sheep Look Up

(1972) extrapolate a future empty of the ecological conscience that deep ecology

promotes.

Chapter 4 looks at another philosophical trend in modem environmentalism:

ecofeminism. For ecofeminism, an ecological conscience cannot emerge in individuals

or cultures without attending to the similarities between the domination of the nonhuman









world by humans and of women by men. The liberation of the natural world from human

(male) dominance is one hope in a web of hopes for ecofeminism, which targets all forms

of oppression. There is a tension within ecofeminism, however, between those who view

women as innately closer to nature than men, and theorize liberation accordingly, and

those who see the woman-nature connection as supporting a patriarchal construction of

gender and overlooking the role of socialization in this construction. Sally Miller

Gearhart's The Wanderground. Stories of the Hill Women (1979), Ursula K. Le Guin's

Always Coming Home (1985), and Joan Slonczewski's A Door Into Ocean (1986)

grapple with this tension in their narratives. And though their conclusions do not support

the most recent forms of social constructionist ecofeminist theory, each novel to varying

degrees challenges its own essentialist understandings, ultimately demonstrating that the

feminist ecological conscience is the product of an ongoing dialectic.

Of the common threads that run throughout this dissertation, the most prevalent is

an almost universal interrogation of capitalism, in both fiction and theory. Most of the

texts referred to find capitalism to be an ecologically illiterate economic system that

favors economic growth over the long-term sustainability of ecological systems and the

species, including humans, that depend on these systems. Chapter 5, "Toward an

Ecologically Conscious Economy: Ecosocialist Reflections," thus necessarily develops

this interrogation by examining three works of SF that overtly critique capitalist ideology:

Frederik Pohl and C.M. Kombluth's The Space Merchants (1952), Le Guin's The Word

for World is Forest (1972), and Kim Stanley Robinson's Mars trilogy (1993, 1994,

1996). Pohl and Kornbluth's book examines the capitalist advertising apparatus, which

overwrites environmental and social conditions of production with mythologies of desire









and need. Le Guin's novella examines capitalist conditions of production on a planet

where the natural world and the native population are sacrificed for profit. And finally,

Robinson's trilogy speculates on an eco-economy and its component political processes.

Here, sustainable economic methods and open socio-political discourse finally prevail

over capitalist exploitation and closure.

Glotfelty writes, "An ecologically focused criticism is a worthy enterprise primarily

because it directs our attention to matters about which we need to be thinking" (xxiv).

But the texts analyzed in this study do not become ecocritical and important for

environmental thought as a result of the "ecologically focused criticism" to which they

are subjected. Rather, they are already ecocritical. If Freedman's analyses show that

science fiction is critical theory, then the analyses below show that eco-science fiction is

ecocritical theory. In every case, the SF narratives cited in this dissertation theorize in

different and imperative ways the reasons why modem culture has failed to maintain an

ecological conscience and the things we can do to move toward a new era of ecological

thinking and being.














CHAPTER 2
SCIENCE FICTION AND THE ECOLOGICAL CONSCIENCE

In his posthumously published and now classic environmentalist text A Sand

County Almanac (1949), Aldo Leopold writes about the day he saw a wolf die at the

hands of his hunting party. Having chanced upon a "pile of wolves" while pursuing a

doe, Leopold and the other hunters carelessly fire their guns (130). He admits, "In those

days we had never heard of passing up a chance to kill a wolf. In a second we were

pumping lead into the pack, but with more excitement than accuracy: how to aim a steep

downhill shot is always confusing. When our rifles were empty, the old wolf was down,

and a pup was dragging a leg into impassable slide-rocks" (130). Though a true incident

in Leopold's biography, this killing frenzy symbolizes a broader trend with which the

science fiction texts and environmental philosophies examined in this study are also

concerned: modern culture's hasty and compulsory exploitation of the natural world. In

so many ways, modern culture has imperiled human and nonhuman life and the

ecosystems necessary to this life: by believing the human species is superior to other

species, by poisoning the air and water with industrial chemicals, by hastening

unprecedented increases in global temperature with the burning of fossil fuels, by

consuming ever-higher amounts of resource-intensive foods such as beef and pork, by

invading wilderness to build expanding suburban communities and the highways that

connect them.

If Leopold's hunt implies the thoughtless modern will to dominate nature, then

what he learns from his hunt implies the possibility that this oppressive will can be









replaced with a respect for the natural world and a less exploitive relationship with it.

Leopold continues,

We reached the old wolf in time to watch a fierce green fire dying in her eyes. I
realized then, and have known ever since, that there was something new to me in
those eyes-something known only to her and to the mountain. I was young then,
and full of trigger-itch; I thought that because fewer wolves meant more deer, that
no wolves would mean hunters' paradise. But after seeing the green fire die, I
sensed that neither the wolf nor the mountain agreed with such a view. (130)

In this very spiritual moment, Leopold learns two concepts that challenge his

previous understanding of nature and inspire his call for "an intense consciousness of

land" (223).1 He realizes that the wolf, and by extension individual species, have

meaning and purpose beyond their recreational and economic value; they are morally

considerable. As the philosopher Karen J. Warren acknowledges, such a view of species

"expresses a groundless attitude [. .] [that] can be explained but not ultimately proven"

and thus requires "a willingness on our part to see nonhuman animals and nature as

subjects, as active participants in our worlds, as not mere things (mere resources,

properties, or commodities), as deserving of our care and attention" (76). Second,

Leopold learns that while species have intrinsic value, they also have ecological meaning

that humans often overlook or are untrained to notice. Wolves, for example, do not

threaten deer populations, as Leopold once believed; rather, because of the ecological

principles behind predator-prey relationships, their presence is essential to deer






1 Discussing animal welfare ethics, Bron Taylor notes, "Not a few animal activists recall that their beliefs
really began suddenly, or intensified greatly, upon the occasion of eye-to-eye contact with an animal"
("Environmental Ethics"). Though Leopold was not specifically an animal activist, his experience with the
wolf speaks to the connectedness between human and nonhuman species that the ecological conscience
recognizes, often an intuitive, spiritual connectedness that defines much animal and environmental
activism.









populations.2 Leopold lacked an ecological conscience before his hunting trip, but he

finds both spiritual and scientific ecological understanding in his experience.

Metaphorically, Leopold argues that only in adopting an ecological conscience can

modern culture question its flawed ideas and change to less environmentally exploitive

ways.

Central to this study is the idea that many works of science fiction share with

Leopold, and with environmentalism in general, the desire to instigate an intellectual, and

often spiritual, movement toward ecological understanding, toward adopting the

ecological conscience that Leopold believes is so important for modern culture. Central

to this study, too, is the idea that critical attention to science fiction not only uncovers its

desire to inform an individual and cultural ecological conscience but also has much

pedagogical value in actually doing so. Thus, this chapter has two purposes: to define

what exactly the ecological conscience is and to demonstrate why SF is ideally suited to

argue in its favor.

The Ecological Conscience

Defined in the OED as "The internal acknowledgment or recognition of the moral

quality of one's motives and actions," conscience stems from a number of psychological

and social factors that direct what is right and wrong (def. 4a). But whether inherent in

the human unconscious as Freud's superego or a necessary product of social evolution,

the moral supervision of the conscience is driven most persistently by religious doctrine.

However much institutional religious systems encourage moral law within strictly human

2 In Desert Solitaire (1968), the celebrated environmentalist Edward Abbey reiterates Leopold's ecological
observation, coloring the similar point, however, with his characteristically unabashed criticism of modem
humanity: "the deer [. .] had become victims of human meddling with the natural scheme of things-not
enough coyotes around and the mountain lions close to extinction, the deer have multiplied like rabbits and
are eating themselves out of house and home" (37).









communities, though, they do little to define right and wrong in ecological terms. Judeo-

Christian thinking, in fact, draws a line between humans and the rest of nature,

organizing morality and conscience accordingly. Thus, the concept of the ecological

conscience begs an attention not to the moral principles of any organized religion but

instead to the insights of spirituality, particularly of Earth-based spirituality and its

ecological politics of interconnectedness. Fundamentally different from and existing

prior to religion, which promotes codified law, Earth-based spirituality engages the inner

self as a component of a greater totality. Citing religious studies by the scholars Peter

van Ness and Anna King, the religionist and radical environmentalism scholar Bron

Taylor points to some key terminologies that define spiritual understanding-"' cosmic

totality,"' "'wholeness,"' and "'interdependence,"' to name a few (176). As such,

spirituality and ecology go hand-in-hand, the former giving moral considerability to the

latter, making the natural world-an interdependent, whole totality-mean something

more to humans than a quantifiable repository of recreational or economic resources.

Although Aldo Leopold "rarely alluded to his personal religious beliefs," as the

Leopold biographer Curt Meine admits, essential to and defining the effect of the

ecological conscience is what he terms "the land ethic," a concept of moral

interdependence made possible in part by a perception of the sacrality of ecosystems

("Leopold"). Referring to the Golden Rule and democracy as ethical ideals that in the

former case "integrate the individual to society" and in the latter case "integrate social

organization to the individual" (203), Leopold observes that ethics "has its origin in the

tendency of interdependent individuals or groups to evolve modes of co-operation" (202).

Perplexing Leopold, however, is the absence of the land in modem society's ethical









paradigms. He notices that traditional ethical ideals have only a social basis in

emphasizing the obligations humans have toward each other, but no ethic looks beyond

social relationships to stress human obligations toward the natural world. By definition,

then, "The land ethic simply enlarges the boundaries of the community to include soils,

waters, plants, and animals, or collectively: the land" (204).

Leopold notes that a land ethic "reflects the existence of an ecological conscience,

and this in turn reflects a conviction of individual responsibility for the health of the

land" (221). The land ethic is thus born from an ecological conscience that understands

that as a biological species humans have obligations as members of natural ecosystems,

that "A thing is right when it tends to preserve the integrity, stability, and beauty of the

biotic community. It is wrong when it tends otherwise" (224-225). To act on the

ecological conscience is to behave in a way that maintains just relationships among

people but also extends such moral considerability "from people to land" (209). This

ethical development in conscience cannot be accomplished "without an internal change in

our intellectual emphasis, loyalties, affections, and convictions," and Leopold points out

several of the ideological shifts inherent in a movement toward an intense consciousness

of land: one economic, one educational, and one historical (210).

Leopold criticizes the tendency in the modem world to view the land through the

lens of economic self-interest. He writes, "The farmer who clears the woods off a 75 per

cent slope, turns his cows into the clearing, and dumps its rainfall, rocks, and soil into the

community creek, is still (if otherwise decent) a respected member of society" (209). An

ideological transformation in social priority from making profit to maintaining a healthy

ecology, though, would bankrupt this farmer because the negative environmental effects









of his activities on human and nonhuman species would take precedence over their

positive economic effects. But, Leopold laments while also referencing the similar

economic logic of American slavery, "Land-use ethics are still governed wholly by

economic self-interest, just as social ethics were a century ago" (209).

On educational change, Leopold advocates more widespread literacy about the

dynamics of the natural world. He notes, "One of the requisites for an ecological

comprehension of land is an understanding of ecology, and this is by no means co-

extensive with 'education'; in fact, much higher education seems deliberately to avoid

ecological concepts" (224). Leopold's central pedagogical image for a healthy

environment is "a tangle of chains so complex as to seem disorderly, yet the stability of

the system proves it to be a highly organized structure. Its functioning depends on the

co-operation and competition of its diverse parts" (215). Lacking awareness of this

natural complexity and of the fragility of natural systems that need their diverse parts to

function has led modern culture to conduct itself unsustainably.

Finally, in addition to its economic and intellectual distance from the natural

world, modern culture further manifests its disconnection from place through its

historical narratives. Leopold envisions a more ecologically conscious culture as one that

understands its history not just in terms of social interactions but also in terms of the

nonhuman world. As an example of this revised historical understanding, he writes of the

settlement of the Mississippi valley,

In the years following the Revolution, three groups were contending for its control:
the native Indian, the French and English traders, and the American settlers.
Historians wonder what would have happened if the English at Detroit had thrown
a little more weight into the Indian side of those tipsy scales which decided the
outcome of the colonial migration into the cane-lands of Kentucky. It is time now
to ponder the fact that the cane-lands, when subjected to the particular mixture of









forces represented by the cow, plow, fire, and axe of the pioneer, became bluegrass.
What if the plant succession inherent in this dark and bloody ground had, under the
impact of those forces, given us some worthless sedge, shrub, or weed? Would
Boone and Kenton have held out? Would there have been any overflow into Ohio,
Indiana, Illinois, and Missouri? Any Louisiana Purchase? Any transcontinental
union of new states? Any Civil War? (205-206)

About Leopold's ecological historicism, James I. McClintock notes, "History, whether in

terms of losses or gains, is understood as humans acting within, not outside or above

nature" (30).

The ecological conscience thus manifests reworked religio-ethical understandings

as well as modified paradigms of economics, education, and history: the natural world is

morally considerable; the natural world is valuable not as commodity but as community;

the natural world possesses a complexity that quashes simple intuition and therefore

requires deep levels of critical understanding prior to the initiation of any intrusive

human project; and the natural world plays a profound part in all historical narratives. At

the root of this conscience are fundamental interrogations of "basic paradoxes: man the

conqueror versus man the biotic citizen; science the sharpener of his sword versus

science the searchlight on his universe; land the slave and servant versus land the

collective organism" (223). Such interrogations figure prominently into the ecological

science fiction reviewed in the following chapters, thus connecting the interests of SF

with the interests of Leopold and the host of environmental thinkers that precede and

follow him.

Why Science Fiction?

The ecological conscience pervades texts of many genres and many historical

periods. It surfaces in William Wordsworth's "Nutting" (1799) shortly after the narrator

violently strikes down the clusters of a hazelnut tree, deforming the natural integrity of









the woods. While making him "rich beyond the wealth of kings" (51), the narrator's

mutilation of natural order conjures "a sense of pain," particularly after he witnesses the

scene, now calmed, altered from its previous state as a result of his intrusion (52). In

James Fenimore Cooper's The Pioneers (1823), Natty Bumpo articulates the voice of the

ecological conscience. Representing the characteristics of what Leopold calls "a

distinctively American tradition of self-reliance, hardihood, woodcraft, and

marksmanship," Natty Bumpo speaks out against the villagers' wasteful hunting customs

(179). "'[I]t's wicked to be shooting into flocks in this wasty manner,'" Natty says,

extending moral judgments to those whose exploitation of nature goes beyond human

necessity (236).

In other literature, Henry David Thoreau moved to Walden Pond to restore in

himself the physical and spiritual connection between humans and nature severed by the

industrial age. This restoration produced in Thoreau a self embedded in the land and

educated by natural processes rather than by the artificial mechanics of civilization. For

Walt Whitman, the fundamental interrelationships of nature-the diverse but intertwined

life forms that roll in the tide in his "Sea-Drift" cluster (1881), for example-symbolize

the democratic self he works to create in much of his poetry. And Mary Austin's The

Land of Little Rain (1903) overflows with the names of species that intermingle within

the desert ecology about which she writes, representing not only the intricacies of

ecological interrelations but also one writer's understanding that all members of the

ecological community have value in themselves. For Thoreau, Whitman, and Austin-as

for Wordsworth and his British Romantic contemporaries as well as later writers like

John Muir and Robinson Jeffers, who like Austin carried ecocentric values into the









expanding American west-the natural world provided a philosophical model for human

civilization and a necessary counterpoint to the swelling industrial complex.3

Surely, a study of the ecological conscience in literature-that is to say, a study of

the ways literature has highlighted the intrinsic significance of the nonhuman world, the

fundamental connectedness of human and nonhuman species, and the damage that

modern trends have brought to ecological systems and ecocentric ideas-could examine

texts from "Nutting" to The Land of Little Rain or, to name some more contemporary

texts, from Gary Snyder's Turtle Island (1974) to Janisse Ray's Ecology of a Cracker

Childhood (1999). Spanning a range of fiction, poetry, and personal narrative, these texts

all have in common a sense of the natural world contrary to the ideological thrust of the

increasingly anti-ecological modem world. If the ecocritical movement in contemporary

literary theory "Most of all [. .] seeks to evaluate texts and ideas in terms of their

coherence and usefulness as responses to environmental crisis," then such texts as

Wordsworth's, Ray's, Whitman's, or Austin's are ideally suited for the task (Kerridge 5).

But as Ursula K. Heise asserts, ecocritical analysis is not limited to "a narrow

canon of nature writing," to the Thoreaus, Leopolds, and Snyders (1096). She writes in a

letter in PMLA's 1999 Forum on Literatures of the Environment, "Ecocriticism analyzes

the ways in which literature represents the human relation to nature at particular moments

of history, what values are assigned to nature and why, and how perceptions of the



3 For George Sessions, the ecocentrism of Wordsworth, Thoreau, Austin, and others continue a nature-
centered cultural trend that extends way back to primal cultures and that finds its philosophical
manifestations in Baruch Spinoza's pantheism, Thoreau's "philosophy of the wild," and George
Santayana's critiques of Western philosophy ("Ecocentrism" 165). In fact, Sessions argues that the
anthropocentric philosophies of medieval Christianity, Renaissance humanism, and the Enlightenment
mark a mere anthropocentricc detour" in the course of history-a detour that, despite its historical brevity,
has informed a range of environmentally destructive cultural attitudes.









natural shape literary tropes and genres," and "no genre is in principle exempt from this

kind of analysis" (1097). Heise continues,

[O]ne of the contemporary genres in which questions about nature and
environmental issues emerge most clearly is science fiction: from the novels and
short stories of Brian Aldiss, John Brunner, and Ursula K. Le Guin in the 1960s
and 1970s to those of Carl Amery, David Brin, Kim Stanley Robinson, and Scott
Russell Sanders in the 1980s and 1990s, science fiction is one of the genres that
have most persistently and most daringly engaged environmental questions and
their challenge to our vision of the future. (1097)

Though Heise's letter only briefly argues the value of science fiction for ecocritical

inquiry, Patrick D. Murphy fleshes out the point a bit more. In his study of nature-

oriented literature, Murphy writes, science fiction can (1) "provide factual information

about nature and human-nature interactions" and (2) "provide thematically

environmentalist extrapolations of conflict and crisis based on such information" (41). I

will consider the latter point in a moment, but Murphy's first point is demonstrated most

visibly in subsequent chapters of this study in novels such as Stewart's Earth Abides,

Herbert's Dune, and Slonczewski's A Door Into Ocean, which spend significant time

detailing the ecologies of their respective imagined spaces as well as the effects of these

spaces on the humans who inhabit them.

Such a characteristic attention to space, in which, as Fredric Jameson notes, "the

collective adventure accordingly becomes less that of a character (individual or

collective) than that of a planet, a climate, a weather and a system of landscapes," gives

science fiction an ecocritical potential (313). Jameson observes in Vonda McIntyre's The

Exile Waiting (1975), and as a generic quality of SF in general, "a significant

displacement of our reading interest from narrative [. .], with its linear causality, toward

spatial experience as such" (312). To point out Jameson's observation is not to say that

causality is not an interest of science fiction or one of our interests in reading it,









particularly in reading a nature-oriented SF in which pressing ecocritical speculations

about the past, the present, and the ecological future come to the fore-Murphy's second

point. But Jameson's underlining of science fiction's spatial tendencies demonstrates the

special significance of place-of planets, of climates, of weathers, and of landscapes4-in

the genre, a magnitude on par with the realist novel's central and detailed attention to

character development. As a genre highlighting the exterior world as the elemental

source of interior human meaning-of human narrative, so to speak-SF performs

precisely the cultural work of green movements, which against modern inclination

underscore the role of the outer world, of ecological space, in human meaning-making.

Murphy's second and related point highlights science fiction's extrapolative

tendencies as essential to its crucial position as environmentalist literature. A defining

concept in science fiction studies, extrapolation in literature is the act of drawing

conclusions about the future based on the circumstances of the present. As Murphy

notes, "extrapolation emphasizes that the present and the future are interconnected-what

we do now will be reflected in the future" ("The Non-Alibi" 263). Extrapolation happens

in the near-future sections of Stapledon's Last and First Men when our human generation

bankrupts itself of fossil fuels as a result of its maintaining high consumption levels of oil

and coal. Extrapolation happens, too, in Pohl and Kornbluth's The Space Merchants

when the authors envision a future dominated by the ubiquitous advertising complex that

was starting to emerge in the 1950s and has since helped drive the postindustrial world's

excessive consumption habits. In speculating on the consequences of present human

actions and extending current trends to their potential conclusions, extrapolative science


4 Of the Earth, namely, no matter what its fictional manifestation might be in any story.









fiction is perfectly situated to demonstrate how these actions and trends threaten the

future. As such, extrapolative ecological SF can do much in the environmentalist call for

an individual and cultural ecological conscience.

The ecocritical potential of science fiction does not only emerge from its spatial

and futurological tendencies. As the SF scholar Joseph Marchesani notes, extrapolation

"provides science fiction with a quality that Darko Suvin has called 'cognitive

estrangement,' the recognition that what we are reading is not the world as we know it,

but a world whose change forces us to reconsider our own with an outsider's perspective"

(par. 8). About estrangement, the SF theorist Suvin quotes Bertolt Brecht: "'A

representation which estranges is one which allows us to recognize its subject, but at the

same time makes it seem unfamiliar'" (60). In this regard, the subjects of science fiction

stories-their socio-political settings, their technologies, their utopian or dystopian

visions, their ecologies, or in short, their spaces-are more about the now than about the

future or an alternative present.

But unlike other genres such as myth, fairy tale, and fantasy, which also deviate

from realistic representation in estranging ways, science fiction "sees the norms of any

age, including emphatically its own, as unique, changeable, and therefore subject to a

cognitive glance" (Suvin 61). Suvin argues that myth, fairy tale, and fantasy are not

"cognitive" because the intention of their estrangement is to portray absolutes about their

represented other worlds rather than changeable conditions that readers can recognize as

mirroring or germinating from their empirical present. Science fiction often shows that

current or future discord or harmony is born from something unique in the now; its

narratives are thus cognitive investigations, as SF historian Edward James remarks, "of









possible social systems or new forms of science"-or broadly, new or different or

particular ideas-that create this discord or harmony (108).

Marchesani's queer readings of science fiction acknowledge the importance of the

genre's tendency toward cognitive estrangement for gender theory and progressive social

praxis. But as the literature of cognitive estrangement, SF is also important for ecology

because readers understand the unfamiliar spaces and ideas it presents as in fact mirroring

and commenting critically on their historical moment in addition to seeing or foreseeing

an extrapolated future based either on the evidence of this moment or on its speculated

alternative. As analyzed in this study, Le Guin's The Wordfor World is Forest considers

capital's insatiable desire for resources; Callenbach's and Piercy's ecotopian novels and

Brunner's dystopian novels deal with the modern world's ecological future given either

the continuance of certain trends or the movement of modern culture in a more

sustainable direction; John Christopher's No Blade of Grass (1956) glances at the

chemical manipulation of nature so prevalent then and now. In every case, the glance is

cognitive, never seeing the presents or futures they speculate on as fixed or inevitable, but

as possible given the mutability of human cognition and behavior.

Finally, if science fiction's spaces, extrapolations, and cognitive estrangements are

ecologically revolutionary, they are so because, as Jameson has recently noted, SF is

totalizing. In Archaeologies of the Future, Jameson sets out to recuperate the concept of

totality from its stigmatization in postmodern theory. A "combination of closure and

system, in the name of autonomy and self-sufficiency and which is ultimately the source

of that otherness or radical, even alien, difference," totality admits more than an

"enclave"-Jameson's term, too-of revolutionary hope (5). Rather, its utopian









realization is, as Jameson scholar Phillip E. Wegner argues, the "transformation of the

world, or totality, that already exists" ("Here"). With their reclamations of totality,

Jameson and Wegner are indeed responding to our current historical moment, that of total

world dominance by capital and, post-September 11th, by the "Bush Doctrine of

unilateralism and preemptive military violence" ("Here"). The nature of this dominance

requires a return to the concept of totality in theoretical discourse, an invigoration of

"The Desire Called Utopia" (Jameson's subtitle) that would "produce another world

altogether," as science fiction hopes to do ("Here").

The all-out production of other worlds, of other totalities, is indeed SF's most

subversive act. How scandalous it is to imagine autonomous and self-sufficient systems

that are explicitly not the structure in place-that, for example, do not represent a

political economy of "capitalist common sense," which perpetuates at every moment and

in every space the myth "that the market as the location of capitalist productivity is the

only game in town" (Watkins 20).5 Such imagining is also the critical work of

environmentalism, particularly of the ecological philosophies examined below: Paul B.

Sears' "subversive science," deep ecology, ecofeminism, and ecosocialism. Each one of

these radical ecological movements engages a discourse that is always and fundamentally

attentive to ecology, to "a whole defined by internal t cltiill" (Kovel 17) that is

Jameson's "closure and system," and thus to total change rather than a piecemeal change

amenable to capitalist totality. The ecosocialist and former US Green Party senate and


5 Not all of the science fiction texts considered in this study envision new totalities against the hegemony.
However, those that do not demonstrate the utopian impulse of socio-political SF-Last and First Men,
"Twilight," Stand on Zanzibar, The Sheep Look Up, The Space Merchants, and The Word for World is
Forest-do indeed display a related dystopian impulse, which in presenting an ecodestructive hegemony
implicitly call for such envisionings, even if some of these texts holler this call from utopian enclaves
(Brunner's "wats" or Pohl and Kornbluth's "Consie" underground).









presidential candidate Joel Kovel contributes much to this point: "capital is a whole way

of being, and not merely a set of institutions. It is therefore this way of being that has to

be radically transformed if the ecological crisis is to be overcome" (9). Green revolution

calls for nothing less than wholesale change, the realization of an indeed utopian

ecological conscience, or "the transition from one totality to another" that is, to be sure,

the definition of revolution itself (Wegner, "Jameson' s").6

Conclusion

It is important to note that one of the most revolutionary works of

environmentalism, Rachel Carson's Silent Spring (1962), turns to science fiction to set

the stage for its groundbreaking investigation into the pesticide industry. The book's first

chapter, "A Fable for Tomorrow," pictures a bleak, sterile future of Anytown, USA

resulting from the indiscriminate use of chemicals in the country's fight against insects.

Beginning her chapter with "There was once a town in the heart of America where all life

seemed to live in harmony with its surroundings," Carson's attention to space and literary

estrangement is obvious; she hands readers an empirical moment that if they do not really

know as their present, then they do at least understand to be a present that does or did

exist somewhere or at some historical point (1). Carson continues the estrangement by

introducing the unfamiliar, in this case "a strange blight," "Some evil spell" that stills the

life of the town, killing everything in its path (2). But the apocalyptic blight of the future

is not the inescapable final battleground, and the evil spell is not the treachery of

mythological imps, both narrative situations that would discourage the cognitive glance



6 I play with the term "green revolution" to recontextualize it within an ecologically conscious totality that
would oppose what it originally signifies-the US chemical industry's global "market expansion
program"-and give it the critical meaning it deserves (Khor 50).









that buttresses science fiction's cultural and ecological work. Instead, in Carson's

imagined future, as in most science fiction, that which threatens humanity and the whole

of the Earth's ecology is humanity itself. "No witchcraft, no enemy action had silenced

the rebirth of new life in this stricken world," Carson writes. "The people had done it

themselves" (3).

Science fiction's success as the literature of the ecological conscience comes not

simply from scare tactics, from being a literature of "apocalyptic ecologism," as R. J.

Ellis deems it. Ellis finds in Silent Spring's opening chapter-which he agrees is

dystopian SF, though not particularly effective-the proposition of "imminent disaster

and a dystopic future if no action is forthcoming" (115). Too entrenched in a historical

rhetoric of "'the ravages of the axe,'" Ellis argues, this apocalyptic ecologism fails "to

articulate comprehensibly a political programme for such action" (115). Ellis extends the

analysis to Herbert's Dune, claiming in the end, and almost derogatorily, that "extensive

discursive engagement with ecological issues in fiction are characteristically encountered

not in realist writing, but in the imagined futures of the science fiction genre" (121). For

Ellis, SF simply provides the narrative space for a politically unproductive

environmentalism.

But Ellis errs when he deems Carson's and Herbert's science fictions as

apocalyptic rather than extrapolative and cognitively estranging presentations of plausible

spaces. Framing ecological SF as apocalyptic only condemns it to being politically weak

and unable to take on the current totality by virtue of its participation again and again and

again in the same redundancies of environmentalist soothsayers: If humanity does not

change its ways, tragedy will occur. Indeed, there is a whole subgenre of apocalyptic






22


science fiction; but the challenges of the modern world's ecological future demands new

readings that understand SF not as a literature to promote green revolution through fear

but through deeper understandings of the natural world, of humanity's essential

connectedness to the natural world, of the philosophies, spiritualities, and social

movements that embrace the ecological conscience, and of systems and actions that

jeopardize the future of ecology. Such is the focus of the following chapters.















CHAPTER 3
THE SUBVERSIVE SUBJECT OF ECOLOGY

This chapter begins the close readings of science fiction that comprise the majority

of this study. Later chapters explore the parallels between more contemporary SF and

specific trends in modern ecocritical thought, but this chapter examines several works of

early science fiction that engaged in ecological critique before the full-scale emergence

and diversification of environmentalism in the years following the 1960s.1 Science

fiction narratives such as Olaf Stapledon's Last and First Men (1931), John W.

Campbell's "Twilight" (1934), and especially George R. Stewart's Earth Abides (1949)

and Frank Herbert's Dune (1965) are not only foundational pieces in science fiction but

also key works in the broader evolution of modern culture's critical awareness of the

effects of human ideas and practices on ecological systems.

In "Ecology-A Subversive Subject" the ecologist Paul B. Sears asks, "Is ecology

a phase of science of limited interest and utility? Or, if taken seriously as an instrument

for the long-run welfare of mankind, would it endanger the assumptions and practices

accepted by modern societies, whatever their doctrinal commitments?" (11). Responding

to the question, Sears concludes that ecology does jeopardize modern assumptions and

practices. Whereas findings in other sciences can and often do remain unseen by the

general public, ecological findings "must become a matter of wide public understanding


1 Most scholars agree that while environmentalism has roots in various philosophies and movements
predating Rachel Carson's 1962 text Silent Spring as well as the first Earth Day in 1970, the
institutionalization of modem environmentalism in the United States occurred in the late 1960s and early
1970s. See Sale, and Dunlap and Mertig.









to be effective" (12). Sears believes that ecology's "continuing critique of man's

operations within the ecosystem" is important on a broad scale, "as an instrument for the

long-run welfare of mankind" (12). Perceiving ecological interconnections challenges

modern, ecologically unsustainable lifeways. To be ecologically literate is to question

the profit motive of free-market economics, to doubt the viability of monoculture

agriculture-essentially, to question many of modem society's foundational values and

methods, as Sears does in his postscript.2

Academically, the science of ecology subverts disciplinary compartmentalization.

Traditional academic efforts "to intensify teaching of the individual sciences [rather] than

to integrate them" deny scholars the "unifying philosophical point of view" that ecology

offers (12). And while the study of ecology shifts the academic convention of

disciplinary specialization to more interdisciplinary breadth and an avant-garde pedagogy

of integration, it also undermines the mind/matter dualism so fundamental to modern

scientific study. Referencing F. Fraser Darling, Sears notes, "ecology [. .] is a study of

the entire ecosystem. Of this system, man is not just an observer and irresponsible

exploiter but an integral part, now the world's dominant organism" (12). Speaking with a

Leopoldian ecological conscience, Sears here insists that humans are always a part of

ecological systems, not apart from them, and that the modem academy must take note.

Expanding on Sears in his seminal essay "Ecology and Man-A Viewpoint," the

ecologist Paul Shepard writes, "The ideological status of ecology is that of a resistance




2 Such questions include, "What conclusion would you draw if you observed a population curve, similar to
that of man, in any other organism?" "What are the effects upon the ecosystem where profit to the
developer is the sole check upon urban expansion?" and "What is known of the long-range effects of
monoculture and heavy machinery upon fertile agricultural land?" (13).









movement. Its Rachel Carsons and Aldo Leopolds are subversive (as Sears recently

called ecology itself)" (9). Shepard details a range of ecocritical concerns:

[The Carsons and Leopolds] challenge the public or private right to pollute the
environment, to systematically destroy predatory animals, to spread chemical
pesticides indiscriminately, to meddle chemically with food and water, to
appropriate without hindrance space and surface for technological and military
ends; they oppose the uninhibited growth of human populations, some forms of
"aid" to "underdeveloped" peoples, the needless addition of radioactivity to the
landscape, the extinction of species of plants and animals, the domestication of all
wild places, large-scale manipulation of the atmosphere or the sea, and most other
purely engineering solutions to problems of and intrusions into the organic world.
(9)

Ecology enables this compendium of disputes, highlighting for example the

importance of all species within an ecosystem, or the facts that-as Barry Commoner

suggests-everything is connected to everything else, everything must go somewhere,

nature knows best, and there is no such thing as a free lunch (33-48).

Aldo Leopold's resistance to well-established values was reviewed in the previous

chapter, but as A.L. Herman reminds us, Leopold's most developed ecological stance was

a subversion of the utilitarian principles that the science of ecology was adopting as the

nineteenth century turned into the twentieth. Leopold began his forestry career in the

first decade of the twentieth century as an ecosystemist, one who views "the whole of

nature as an eco-system composed of physical, isolatable, mechanical parts, all reducible

to talk about atoms, energy, and economics expressed as quantifiable and measurable

units" (Herman 47-48). Such a model of ecological thinking differs greatly from the

radical models discussed throughout this study, and from the model Leopold would later

embrace, but it is a legitimate model with which subversive ecology has traditionally









competed.3 It was an act of the ecosystemist, game-managing Leopold-the spiritual

incident with the dying wolf-that transformed him from an ecological manager to what

Herman calls an "ecoholist" and invigorated in his conscience the ecological worldviews

of Thoreau, John Muir, and other foundational voices (56). In fact, Donald Worster sees

Leopold's land ethic as "the single most concise expression of the new environmental

philosophy," "a biocentric, communitarian ethic that challenged the dominant economic

attitude toward land use" (284).

While Leopold's A Sand County Almanac marked the bolstering of an ecological

worldview that worked more to halt modern humanity's intrusions into wilderness than to

make those intrusions more seamless, the subversive stance of Carson's Silent Spring

stimulated the critical developments that since 1962 have collectively been deemed the

environmental movement. In his introduction to a current edition of Silent Spring, Al

Gore develops a useful framework for discussing Carson's study of the pesticide industry

as broadly subversive ecology, noting the ways the book worked "against the grain" of

several well-established orthodoxies (xvi). First, Gore writes, "both the book and its

author [. .] met with considerable resistance from those who were profiting from

pollution" (xv). As a text that called for tough regulations on the pesticide industry and

for eliminating several of that industry's staple products, Silent Spring dealt a

controversial blow to the barons of industry and to the anti-regulatory atmosphere they

were creating.



3 In perhaps the most well-documented case of the competition between the ecosystemist point-of-view
and the point-of-view of a more critical, conscientious ecology, in 1913 Woodrow Wilson approved the
damming of Hetch Hetchy Valley in the Sierra Nevada Mountains, the culmination of a long battle between
Gifford Pinchot and other advocates of the utilitarian, managerial ecology that informed the reservoir plan
and John Muir, a fervent defender of the spiritual and aesthetic value of the Hetch Hetchy wilderness.









Second, Gore notes that much of the propaganda produced to discredit Carson and

her work "played on stereotypes of her sex": she was "hysterical" and used "emotion-

fanning words" (xvi). Given the cultural climate of a United States only recently

emerged from the patriarchal 1950s and still a few years from the feminist fervor of the

late 1960s, Carson had to write against a social paradigm that considered female thought,

especially in the male-dominated sciences, as inferior.

Third, Carson "was also writing against the grain of an orthodoxy rooted in the

earliest days of the scientific revolution: that man (and of course this meant the male of

our species) was properly the center and the master of all things, and that scientific

history was primarily the story of his dominion" (Gore xvi-xvii). As with many previous

figures in subversive ecology, Carson did not accept a worldview that promoted a strict

hierarchy of humans over other species. In fact, as Rachel Carson scholar Mary A.

McCay notes, Carson's 1951 book The Sea Around Us directly challenges hierarchical

and anthropocentric conceptions of the place of humans and nonhumans in the world,

promoting "a religious reverence for the sea" and asserting that "The life of the sea

controls the life of the land and thus human life" ("Carson"). Carson's ecocentric

assertions in Silent Spring and in her other works undermined the Enlightenment will-to-

dominate, and though Gore does not admit it-perhaps because of his position as a public

figure in a heavily Christianized America-Carson's texts implicitly challenged claims of

human dominion common among most devotees of Abrahamic religion.

Ultimately, the holistic logic of ecology opposes the narrow logic of the modern

world: against human-centered dogma, ecology recognizes the necessity of all plants,

animals, and natural processes; against industrialist assertions to the contrary, ecology









recognizes the hazards of agricultural chemicals; against the capitalist lust for economic

growth, ecology recognizes the limits of the systems needed to sustain such growth;

against the pressures of suburban development, ecology recognizes the intrinsic value of

wild spaces. Indeed, ecology is subversive because it finds the principles of the modern

world to be incompatible with the ground rules of biospherical life, and it seeks to

overturn those principles and their related practices.

Subversive Ecology in Early Science Fiction: Some Considerations

The alien pod people of Jack Finney's Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1954)

justify their creeping attack on the human race using humanity's own history of

ecological domination:

"what has the human race done except spread over this planet till it swarms the
globe several billion strong? What have you done with this very continent but
expand till you fill it? And where are the buffalo who roamed this land before you?
Gone. Where is the passenger pigeon, which literally darkened the skies of
America in flocks of billions? The last one died in a Philadelphia zoo in 1913.
Doctor, the function of life is to live if it can, and no other motive can ever be
allowed to interfere with that. There is no malice involved; did you hate the
buffalo? We must continue because we must; can't you understand that? [. .] It's
the nature of the beast." (185)

Here, Bernard Budlong of the alien race reasons to Doctor Miles Bennell, the

narrator of the novel, that the spread of his extraterrestrial species on the Earth only

parallels the historical tendencies of modern, exploitive humanity. Certainly, Budlong's

reasoning is tautological-"'We must continue because we must'"-but so is much of the

logic that guides the ideas and practices that threaten ecological systems. As Sears and

Shepard maintain, subversive ecology questions many of the logics of modern society,

such as capitalism and anthropocentrism. These logics perpetuate themselves using their

own inside reasoning to circumvent any threatening interrogations, but they do not stand

up to the critical probing of ecology. In a way, Budlong's reasoning is a version of









ecocritical probing, a rhetorical tactic-available to Finney as a writer of speculative

narrative-to provoke the type of critical questioning-of-the-unquestionable that ecology

performs. It is a move that asks readers to think about their own resemblance to a self-

interested, colonizing species, and to ascertain from this thought a sort of

environmentalist version of Pogo's "We have met the enemy, and he is us."

Broadly speaking, the enemy of nature in Finney's novel and in another mid-

century work of science fiction, John Christopher's No Blade of Grass (1956)-indeed,

in all of the environmentalist SF analyzed in this study-is ecological illiteracy, the

absence of ecological knowledge and of an ecological conscience in modern worldviews.

Prescient of Rachel Carson's Silent Spring, Christopher's novel highlights the limits of a

science uninformed about the dynamics of ecological systems. With rice crops in China

threatened by a virus, authorities in No Blade of Grass forego developing sustainable

means to control the virus and instead rush into action a chemical to kill it. This

chemical, however, strengthens a particular phase of the virus that not only attacks rice

but also devastates all grasses-wheat, oats, barley, and rye included. Four of its phases

keep its ruinous fifth phase inactive; but the chemical, called Isotope 717, effectively

eradicates those four phases, leaving the worst to thrive. The lack of foresight, of

ecological literacy, on the part of the inventors and users of Isotope 717 sets up the

conflict that drives Christopher's narrative-a frightening story of hunger, human

displacement, and the resulting violence.

I reference these two novels briefly as instances of the idea, discussed in my first

chapter, that the genre of science fiction has within it ecocritical tendencies.4 What


4 In addition to Invasion of the Body Snatchers, No Blade of Grass, Last and First Men, lin Earth
Abides, and Dune-the latter four being texts I discuss below-other examples of early environmentalist









follows are more extensive readings of early SF stories intended to demonstrate the

ecological illiteracies that the genre perceives in modern culture. These elucidations span

a range of criticisms and ideas, including Stapledon's questioning of religion and science,

Campbell's speculations on the end of nature as the end of humanity, Stewart's argument

for humanity's essential animality, and Herbert's critique of a political power structure

too dependent on subduing ecologically sustainable cultures.

Last and First Men

A future history, Olaf Stapledon's Last and First Men is narrated by one of the Last

Men, a member of a civilization existing two billion years in the future. This narrator

traces the rise and fall of each evolutionary stage of humanity, from the First Men-

"[our] epoch of history"-through the telepathic Fifth Men and the Ninth Men of

Neptune, and ultimately to the Eighteenth Men, doomed to be the Last Men when a

nearby star threatens to destroy their planet (17). In his foreword to the American edition

of Last andFirst Men, Stapledon outlines the motivation behind his novel:

Man seems to be entering one of the major crises of his career. His whole future,
nay the possibility of his having any future at all, depends on the turn which events
may take in the next half-century. It is a commonplace that he is coming into
possession of new and dangerous instruments for controlling his environment and
his own nature. [. .] Nothing can save him but a new vision, and a consequent
new order of sanity, or common sense. (3)





SF include Karel Capek's War With the Newts (1936) and J.G. Ballard's The Drowned World (1962). In
The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction, Brian Stableford's entry on ecology lists several other titles as early
ecological science fiction, including J.D. Beresford's "The Man who Hated Flies" (1929), William Tenn's
"The Ionian Cycle" (1948), Clifford Simak's "You'll Never Go Home Again" (1951), and Brian Aldiss's
PEST series (1958-1962) (365). Also, Stableford's "Science Fiction and Ecology" in David Seed'sA
Companion to Science Fiction comprehensively explores ecological themes in SF's history. Admittedly, I
am limiting my scope, largely as a result of my focus on the ecological conscience.









Stapledon's science fictional project shares with subversive ecology both the

understanding that modem humanity has moved in hazardous directions and the desire to

find new modes of being that will mitigate the damage humans have brought about and

that will reduce future human impact, assuring Sears' "long-run welfare of mankind."

The most compelling expressions of subversive ecology in Last and First Men are

in its future history of the fall of the First Men, the speculative fall of our civilization. In

this history, Stapledon effectively challenges ideological hierarchies that declare human

biological and intellectual supremacy over the natural world. The civilization of the First

Men begins its collapse as a result of the exhaustion of coal brought about by "the

extravagances of their culture," the main extravagance being a religious devotion to coal-

intensive flying machines in the global World State (71). As the narrator notes, "The

sane policy would have been to abolish the huge expense of power on ritual flying, which

used more of the community's resources than the whole of productive industry" (70).

But the First Men are unwilling to question their "deeply rooted" rituals, despite the

raggedness and starvation affecting people worldwide (71). When those in authority do

suggest a reduction in ritual flying, war breaks out and the lingering population is left to

"scrape a living from the soil" in whatever fertile land is left (73).

Later in the chronicle of the First Men's fall, a new Patagonian civilization

modernizes in a direction just as unsustainable. Had they sacrificed developing an

energy-intensive luxury culture like that of the recently decimated World State and

instead pursued wind and water power, which the narrator of Stapledon's history admits

they could have done, the Patagonians "might well have achieved something like Utopia"

(86). But trusting their "superior sanity," this civilization opts to acquire atomic power









(86). Even with the possibilities of using such a "limitless source of energy" in relatively

harmless ways, the Patagonians use it as an extractive tool for mining materials

previously exhausted by earlier cultures and as a weapon for policing the working class

(89). Proletariat anger leads to the seizing of a "power unit" and ultimately to global

atomic destruction (89).

In blaming the devastation on working-class "mischief-makers," Stapledon is no

Marxist; however, his ecological conscience remains relatively sturdy (89). When the

World State crashes, its few survivors struggle on with disease while nature takes hold

and "the jungle [comes] back into its own" (73). Similarly, after the Patagonians' atomic

ruin, the natural world recovers, though many species of mammals become extinct:

[. .] vegetation had soon revived, from roots and seeds, buried or wind-borne. The
countryside was now green with those plants that had been able to adjust
themselves to the new climate. Animals had suffered far more seriously. Save for
the Arctic fox, a few small rodents, and one herd of reindeer, none were left but the
dwellers in the actual Arctic seas, the Polar bear, various cetaceans, and seals. Of
fish there were plenty. Birds in great numbers had crowded out of the south, and
had died off in thousands through lack of food, but certain species were already
adjusting themselves to the new environment. (92)

This passage and its surrounding contexts serve several critical purposes, all of

which revolve around the novel's critique of human-centeredness. First, because much of

the nonhuman biological life reemerges in a harsh, post-holocaust environment, this life

is bestowed with a number of positive, value-laden terminologies: it is persistent and

determined to carry on, it is healthy and strong, it "forge[s] ahead" despite obstacles, and

it readjusts itself to shifting circumstances (92). Second, despite nature's persistence and

health, many of its component species do die out; but more than just signifying weakness

in these species, these deaths indicate the scope of violence done to the enduring natural

world by humans. Finally, the global environmental change to which other species adjust









is one that humans cannot tolerate, even though they caused it: "the atmosphere had

become seriously impure, and the human organism had not yet succeeded in adapting

itself' (92). Unlike the natural world, humans are feeble and irresolute, unwell and weak,

and unable to make necessary changes for basic survival.

With the situations of the World State and Patagonia, Stapledon challenges the

culturally ingrained myth of the centrality of the human in the world. He participates in

ecology's "continuing critique of man's operations within the ecosystem," as Sears puts

it, by dismantling the idea that because of human biological and intellectual supremacy

the interests of humankind are separate from and of greater importance than the welfare

of flora, fauna, and ecological systems. Stapledon's attention to humanity's physical

limitations renders erroneous the anthropocentric worldview, at least in terms of

biological fitness. Humans are weak and nature is strong. But other species besides

humans die out in the Patagonian disaster of Last andFirst Men. Does this mean they are

weak, too? Or is Stapledon perhaps arguing something more critical, more subversive?

Viewed ecocritically, the species extinctions following the Patagonian incident not only

suggest the misfortunes of ill-advised human projects but also imply a biological equality

between humans and so-called weaker species. Like the extinct species, the "human

organism" cannot adjust to drastic ecological change. Thus, humans are no higher on a

biological ladder than the species they subordinate.

That the First Men continue to operate their civilizations based on ways of life that

are historically proven to set in motion social and ecological collapse attests also to their

intellectual frailty. The World State unlocked the secrets of flight and the Patagonian

civilization unlocked the secrets of the atom; but despite these intellectual









accomplishments, neither civilization managed itself in a sustainable manner. Each, in

fact, ended violently. What Last and First Men seems to argue, then, parallels the

implicit critical argument that ecologists like Leopold and Carson stressed and that

ecological thinkers continue to stress today: modern humanity must rethink the

ideologies that guide its trajectories. Stapledon's account of the First Men challenges

blinding religious dogma (the World State's devotion to resource-intensive flight) and

undisciplined scientific progress (the Patagonian's atomic energy initiative), marking

them as fallible human achievements. Last and First Men does not overtly call for a

culture of ecological literacy and conscience; however, its contemplation of future

histories that emerge from unquestioned ideologies and practices aligns the book strongly

with the subversive, critical motives of ecological thinking.

"Twilight"

As Last and First Men suggests, the reluctance of modern humans to adjust their

religious and scientific convictions to better accommodate their status as a biological

species living within an ecological web has serious consequences for humanity and for

the biosphere as a whole. This reluctance emerges out of the mythology that humans are

biologically and intellectually superior to animals and thus have the capacity to live

against the pressures of the natural world, a mythology Stapledon challenges. John W.

Campbell's "Twilight" offers another future history in which such a mythology has led

humanity to adapt the natural world to human initiative-to sterilize it, to neutralize it,

and to erase its tendencies-ultimately resulting in the loss of humanity itself.

A Science Fiction Hall of Fame story published in 1934, "Twilight" narrates the

experiences of a time traveler named Ares Sen Kenlin who has seen a distant future

where millions of years of technological progress have culminated in a world so









mechanized that humans are intellectually dying. As the hero of a story in a Golden Age

SF genre which is generally technocentric, Kenlin responds to humanity's resulting

intellectual blight by programming a machine to build a "curious machine" that will

replace human intellect, just as other machines in the future world have replaced human

labor (76). Brooks Landon sees in this plot a faith that in the future machines will

continue "the upward spiral of progress" when humans can no longer do so (23).

Similarly, John Huntington sees the story's technological optimism: despite the fact that

technology has caused the future decline of the human race, Huntington notes,

"Campbell's story never questions its faith in technology" (161). Both Landon and

Huntington read Campbell's tale through the lens of technological optimism that most

works of Golden Age science fiction encourage. Interpreted this way, "Twilight" does

celebrate the machines that will persevere long after humans are extinct, machines whose

continuing existence ultimately attests to the triumph of the human intellect that created

the machines in the first place.

However, an ecocritical analysis of Campbell's story looks not at its technological

optimism but at the reasons future humans are in their twilight. Read this way,

"Twilight" no longer champions humanity's technological efforts but rather reflects on

the role of modern culture's mythological faith in human supremacy in the ultimate death

of the species.

In The End of Nature, Bill McKibben argues that "we live in a postnatural world,"

a world once governed by wild processes to which humans-indeed, all species-

adjusted but that humans now adjust to their demands (60). "Twilight" is a story of such

a world. "[A]s man strode toward maturity," Kenlin recalls of the future world, "he









destroyed all forms of life that menaced him. Disease. Insects. Then the last of the

insects, and finally the last of the man-eating animals" (67). This initial destruction of

so-called menace species instigates a neverending trend of further destruction: "The

balance of nature was destroyed then, so they had to go on. [. .] They started destroying

life-and now it wouldn't stop. So they had to destroy weeds of all sorts. Then many

formerly harmless plants. Then the herbivora, too, the deer and the antelope and the

rabbit and the horse. They were a menace, they attacked man's machine-tended crops"

(67-68). And in its final acts of securing the illusory comfort of the postnatural,

humanity "killed off the denizens of the sea [. .] in self-defense" and by purifying the

ocean of its microscopic life initiated the death of the sea (68).

Beyond being a story about humanity subjugating the wild and creating a

postnatural world, "Twilight" is also about the effect that this end of nature has on the

human species. The end of nature for McKibben is tantamount to the beginning, rise, and

dominance of physical and ideological technologies that permit humanity, however

falsely, to evade its responsibilities as members of the biosphere. So if it is mechanized

society that has prompted the twilight of the human race in Campbell's story, then

humanity's death is likewise the effect of the loss of the nonhuman world permitted by

this mechanization. This concept is nothing less than what has since become a key

philosophical underpinning of deep ecology, ecofeminism, and other critical ecological

worldviews: the vitality of the human self, indeed of humanity's collective self, is a

function of the vitality of the biospherical whole. An influential voice in much

contemporary environmentalist thought, Edward Abbey speaks to this point in Desert

Solitaire: "If industrial man continues to [. .] expand his operations he will succeed in









his apparent intention, to seal himself off from the natural and isolate himself within a

synthetic prison of his own making. He will make himself an exile from the earth and

then will know at last, if he is still capable of feeling anything, the pain and agony of final

loss" (211). Long before McKibben and Abbey, though, Campbell makes this

ecologically conscious argument in his narrative. In "Twilight," Kenlin says of the

future, "The human race was growing sterile [. .] Their loneliness was beyond hope"

(67). Certainly, sterility and loneliness do not have to result from the end of nature, but

in the story they do. Kenlin suggests the direct connection: "For, you see, as man strode

toward maturity, he destroyed all forms of life that menaced him" (emphasis added) (67).

The account of the extermination of nonhuman species and purification of the sea is

connected to humanity's loneliness and sterility as a cause-and-effect relationship.

While Campbell associates the death of the human race with anthropogenic, or

human-caused, deterioration of ecological systems, his attentions go further. In

particular, the author seems to know ecology, to know that the world is in a constant state

of change; and with this knowledge he makes a claim similar to Stapledon's charge

against human intellectual progress. Kenlin states, "When Earth is cold, and the Sun has

died out, those machines will go on. When Earth begins to crack and break; those

perfect, ceaseless machines will try to repair her-" (55). Like the story itself, this

passage invites differing interpretations. Kenlin may well be celebrating the "ceaseless

machines," but such an interpretation does not explain the ecocritical stance of the text-

particularly the relationship between ecological decline and human extinction that

"Twilight" acknowledges. Instead, this passage shows the culmination of the modern

vision to impose a particular order on a natural world that is constantly changing and thus









inherently resists such order. The human race is in its twilight because it moved toward

constructing a simplified, sanitized, and mechanical order rather than toward developing

an understanding of natural complexity and the necessity to adapt to natural change.

Finally, contrary to Huntington's claim that "Campbell's story never questions its

faith in technology," "Twilight" does display an uncertainty toward technology, an

uncertainty that emerges when Kenlin reflects on the contrast between machines and

nature. He states, "Seven or even seventy million years don't mean much to old Mother

Earth. She may even succeed in wearing down those marvelous machine cities. She can

wait a hundred million or a thousand million years before she is beaten" (59). At least,

this passage injects ambiguity into Campbell's story: Does "Twilight" pay tribute to

human technological triumph, or mock this triumph as futile when compared to the

magnitude of "old Mother Earth"? At most, this passage disables the claim that

Campbell's story is a celebration of the mechanized world that human ingenuity has

allowed. In it, Kenlin observes the permanence of Mother Earth against fleeting human

initiative, the initiative to mechanize that, in ending nature, has brought about humanity's

twilight.

Earth Abides

George R. Stewart's ecological focus in his novel Earth Abides has prompted the

horror writer Stephen King to call the second half of the novel "an uphill push-too

much ecology, not enough story" (398). John Caldwell has noticed something similar,

though not as a fault: "The relationship of men to the land-i.e., the effect of the land

upon the people that live on it-is the theme of much of [Stewart's] writing" (5). Earth

Abides is a post-apocalyptic tale set into motion when "a kind of super-measles" wipes

out a majority of the world's human population (13). This event triggers the ensuing









narrative, but although the spread of the virus is "aided by airplane travel," Stewart's

novel is not a warning against transcontinental flight (13). Instead, the calamity in Earth

Abides allows Stewart to explore ecological dynamics.

Stewart's main character is Isherwood Williams, a survivor of the virus and former

graduate student whose thesis, "The Ecology of the Black Creek Area," explores "the

relationships, past and present, of men and plants and animals" in a region near San

Francisco (4-5). For a student of ecology, a world without humans as the dominant

species provides an interesting opportunity for research, and Stewart's omniscient

narrator realizes this:

Even though the curtain had been rung down on man, here was the opening of the
greatest of all dramas for a student such as he. During thousands of years man had
impressed himself upon the world. Now man was gone, certainly for a while,
perhaps forever. Even if some survivors were left, they would be a long time in
again obtaining supremacy. What would happen to the world and its creatures?
That he was left to see! (24-25)

While Earth Abides is also about Ish's project to survive his existential dilemma

and, as critic David G. Byrd notes, "to keep the light of civilization burning," Stewart's

ecological literacy furnishes the book with its subversive, ecocritical perspective (par. 5).

This perspective emerges as the novel promotes the realization, also present to a lesser

degree in Last andFirst Men and "Twilight," that humans and animals are subject to the

same biological laws and that in their most sustainable state humans do not live outside

of natural dictates. And similar to Last andFirst Men, Earth Abides prefigures recent

radical environmentalist positions by staging the regeneration of the nonhuman world as

dependent upon a reduction in human population.

A central idea of Paul Shepard and Daniel McKinley's The Subversive Science is

that humans are animals and understanding this is a first step in reversing modern, anti-









ecological trends. For example, Charles F. Hockett and Robert Ascher's essay in the

volume asserts not only that humans are descendents of apes but that we evolved from

the weakest apes who could not compete in the trees with "the more powerful" (24).

"Our own ancestors," they write, "were the failures. We did not abandon the trees

because we wanted to, but because we were pushed out" (24). The authors deny humans

intellectual agency in our own biological development and instead credit competitive

biology-the course toward species differentiation in all animals-for that development.

In a case of "Nature knows best," which contradicts[] a deeply held idea about the

unique competence of human beings," Hockett and Ascher's claim recognizes Darwinian

ecological dynamics-not something unique to humans, but the dynamics that apply to

all life-for enabling human life (Commoner 41).

Paul L. Errington's entry in The Subversive Science also helps set up a context for

reading Stewart's ecological literacy in Earth Abides. In "Of Man and the Lower

Animals," Errington argues the pedagogical value of understanding animal populations

for humanity's continued survival. Arguing against any notion that humans are "exempt

from natural laws or well on the way toward becoming so," he notes, "If twentieth-

century society really values the things that it proclaims essential-peace, human dignity,

intellectual activity, a reasonable degree of freedom and security, and a reasonable

standard of living-it cannot afford to ignore the natural laws by which life continues to

be bound" (180). Like many of the essays in Shepard and McKinley's book, Errington's

focuses on overpopulation, specifically highlighting the trend ofbobwhite quail and

muskrats to develop "social evils" as their populations skyrocket (188). For Errington,









these animal communities are not simply metaphors for human communities. Instead,

they provide us with a mirror image of the dynamics of our human society.

In Earth Abides, speculating on the fate of humanity given the biological law "that

the number of individuals in a species never remains constant, but always rises and

falls," Stewart's narrator concludes,

there is little reason to think that [man] can in the long run escape the fate of other
creatures, and if there is a biological law offlux and reflux, his situation is now a
highly perilous one. During ten thousand years his numbers have been on the
upgrade in spite ofwars, pestilences, and famines. This increase in population has
become more and more rapid. Biologically, man has for too long a time been
rolling an uninterrupted run of sevens. (8)

Here, Stewart anticipates Hockett, Ascher, and Errington by connecting "man" to

"other ci eitin te," and by drawing on this connection to make a point about human

population dynamics.

With the connection between animals and humans made early in the narrative,

throughout the novel Stewart continues to draw such informative parallels, making the

point a central argument of his book. He references Captain Maclear's rat of Christmas

Island, a species whose universal susceptibility to disease developed as a result of the

ease with which it lived and its high population. When disease came to the island, the

rats became extinct. In parallel, Stewart's narrative of Ish's emerging Californian

community is largely an exploration of the ease with which humans lived prior to the

super-measles outbreak and the difficulty the survivors have adjusting to life without

electricity, plumbing, and the like. The community's disconnection from their essential

animality, in fact, manifests itself when later one character asks, "'Where did all this

water come from anyway?'" about the San Francisco water supply, prompting the

narrator to reflect,









It was curious. Here they had been for twenty-one years merely using water that
continued to flow, and yet they had never given any real consideration to where the
water came from. It had been a gift from the past, as free as air, like the cans of
beans and bottles of catsup that could be had just by walking into a store and taking
them from the shelves. (171)

For Stewart, modem convenience has instigated a kind of psychosocial end of

nature, to borrow again from McKibben, where the faucet and grocery store have

cancelled out the imperative to know the biosphere, to be ecologically literate.

Stewart works to reestablish this imperative, though, as he continues to challenge

the idea that humans exist above the animal world. Ish theorizes why ants have nearly

disappeared in the desolate San Francisco area after a brief population boom: "When any

creature reached such climactic numbers and attained such high concentration, a nemesis

was likely to fall upon it. Possibly the ants had exhausted the supplies of food which had

led to this tremendous increase of numbers. More likely, some disease had fallen upon

them, and wiped them out" (88). And to make the correspondence between animals and

humans more obvious for readers, Stewart has Ish say, "'When anything gets too

numerous it's likely to get hit by some plague,"' and adds "(Something had suddenly

exploded in [Ish's] mind at the word.) He coughed to cover up his hesitation, and then

went on, without making a point of it. 'Yes, some plague is likely to hit them'" (114).

Ish's hesitation is his, and the reader's, moment of insight: as the ants became extinct, so

did the humans-nearly.

Stewart's apocalyptic fear for humanity's fate seems less a Malthusian fear of the

inability to reconcile geometric growth rates in population with much smaller linear

growth rates in food supply and more a fear of what disease might do to an

overpopulated, unprepared human society. What is most important and subversive about

his thinking is that it realizes that humans are subject to the same determining influences









that direct all life and that breaking the rules of these influences leads to fates similar to

those of the rats or the ants. Ecological literacy would indeed deflect humans from these

fates, as Stewart ultimately argues as his book provides an after-the-fact analysis of the

errors humans made while populous. The comforts we enjoy as modem humans weaken

us as a species, and the high populations we generate for ideological, social, or economic

purposes threaten catastrophe. As Errington would argue thirteen years after Stewart

implicitly argued in his fiction, humans "could learn from consideration of the basic

biology and sociology of animal populations," deconstructing the artificial human/nature

binary and learning from other species how to live in ways that are not so threatening to

the ecological interactions of which we are a part (180).

If humans are animals, subject to the same laws of ecology that dictate species

population, then what about our rhetorical categories and our symbolic meanings? Some

argue that the human capacity for symbolic thought distinguishes us from "lower"

species. In Earth Abides, Stewart does not attempt to refute this notion; however, he does

suggest that the ecological dynamics that shape humans socially and physically also

shape the direction of our abstract meanings, attributing what is human to the natural

world-again, making us animals. The arguments made in his narrative anticipate recent

theories linking biosphere and discourse. As the ecocompositionists Sidney I. Dobrin and

Christian R. Weisser note, "While discourse does indeed shape our human conceptions of

the world around us, discourse itself arises from a biosphere that sustains life. That is,

while discourse 'creates' the world in the human mind, the biospheric physical

environment is the origin of life (and consequently, the human mind) itself" (12).

Ecological literacy is not only knowledge of how the biological trends of the material









world shape human beings but also understanding the connections between ecology, or

physical place, and symbolic meaning.

Dobrin and Weisser illustrate their contention that "Language reflects place" by

citing the numerous terms for rainbow in the Hawaiian language and for snow in the Inuit

language (13). Stewart performs a similar move in his novel, not specifically addressing

the biospherical origins of words but instead of concepts and ideas, the partners to

language. In several of his italicized commentaries, Stewart draws attention to the

collapse of certain human symbolic constructs initiated by the reemerging primacy of

wilderness. Regarding domesticated dogs, in the post-apocalyptic world "no longer

would Best-of-Breed go for stance, and shape of head, and markings," all arbitrary

conditions for enforcing hierarchies of aesthetics and vitality upon animals (27). Instead,

"The prize, which was life itself would go to the one of keenest brain, staunchest limb,

and strongest jaw, who could best shape himself to meet the new ways and who in the old

competition of the wilderness could win the means of life" (27). Further, those species of

flora previously known as weeds for their undesirable presence in cultivated lawns and

gardens "pressed in to destroy the pampered nurslings of man" in both a very real and

symbolic undermining of artificially constructed meanings (43). And finally,

automobiles-"the pride and symbol of civilization"-deteriorate as natural entropic

processes break down their batteries and tires while they sit neglected (107).

In Earth Abides, as pre-modem conditions of wilderness end modern conceptual

usages, which embody the human/nature disconnect characteristic of modern humanity,

so too do they bring about the return of nature-based, ecology-centered symbols and

meanings. In her discussion of ritual, environmental philosopher Dolores LaChapelle









notes, "Most native societies around the world [. .] had an intimate, conscious

relationship with their place," a relationship out of which their symbolisms grew (247).

Ish's new native society regains this relationship as wilderness returns as the governing

force. For example, with the four-figured dating system deemed illogical for their current

situation, Ish and his female partner, Em, start over with a new dating system that better

reflects the conditions of their newly primitive world. As in Christian mythology, Year

One in their society is marked by the birth of a baby; however, the parallels end there.

Ish's community perceives its dependence on the land and essential obedience to natural

forces, thus its symbolic tendencies develop away from the type of human/nature binaries

that Christianity encourages. Instead, one year becomes "Year of the Fires," another

becomes "Year of the Bulls," another becomes "Year of the Lions," and still another

becomes "Year of the Earthquake" (129, 132, 134, 143). In these cases and in several

others, Ish and Em's emerging society names its social history for events in natural

history, using its symbolic capacities to recognize the role of the natural world in human

social existence.

This recognition also appears in the new society's holidays. As LaChapelle

comments, "all traditional cultures, even our own long-ago Western European cultural

ancestors, had seasonal festivals and rituals. The true origin of most of our modern major

holidays dates back to these seasonal festivals" (248). Ish's society abandons patriotic

holidays like the Fourth of July, as well as other holidays not originating in seasonal

festivities, but continues those holidays with roots in natural cycles: "Curiously," the

narrator writes, "or perhaps rather it was natural enough, the old folk-holidays survived

better than those established by law" (295). So April Fool's Day and Halloween-









celebrations of the vernal equinox and autumnal cross-quarter day, respectively-are

carried on. Continued, too, is the celebration of winter's cross-quarter day, Groundhog

Day, modified to Ground-squirrel day in an area with no groundhogs. And the "great

holiday" for the group is what was "Christmas and New Years of the Old Times": the

winter solstice (295). On this day, when for those in the northern hemisphere the sun is

the furthest south, Ish's community gets together to name the passing year and to begin

anew.

Quoting from Richard B. Lee and Irven DeVore's Man the Hunter, Wayland Drew

speculates that if humans do meet an apocalyptic end,

"interplanetary archeologists of the future will classify our planet as one in which a
very long and stable period of small-scale hunting and gathering was followed by
an apparently instantaneous efflorescence of technology and society leading rapidly
to extinction. 'Stratigraphically,' the origin of agriculture and thermonuclear
destruction will appear as essentially simultaneous." (118)

Though not a story of nuclear catastrophe, nor one of total human extinction, Earth

Abides does much to stage Lee and DeVore's and Drew's speculation. The extended

period of cultural stability referenced here is one made possible by pre-modern societies

that lived with nature, both physically and symbolically, and that like animals did little to

spoil their place. Ish's new San Francisco represents this stability reemerging after what

deep ecologist George Sessions optimistically calls human culture's anthropocentricc

detour," the ten-thousand years out of nearly four million that humanity has strayed from

its traditionally sustainable course, inventing monoculture agriculture, anti-ecological

spiritualities, growth-centered economies, and other constructs that require and encourage

a human/nature disconnect (156).

Stewart's book puts humanity back on track, so to speak-the ecocentric track. In

its conclusion, Stewart writes, "In the times of civilization men had really felt themselves









as the masters of creation. Everything had been good or bad in relation to man. So you

killed rattlesnakes. But now nature had become so overwhelming that any attempt at its

control was merely outside anyone's circle of thought. You lived as part of it, not as its

dominating power" (281). With regard to human material and symbolic lifeways,

Stewart demonstrates the crucial differences between a modem human society that

behaves according to an ideology of human-centeredness and an ecologically literate pre-

modern society. The former is out of touch with its fundamental animality and lives as if

it can overcome natural, ecological pressures, despite evidence to the contrary. The

latter-the society to which Ish's has returned-is one with an ecological conscience, one

that sees its connection to the biosphere and lives not to subdue natural processes but to

integrate itself physically and symbolically into the landscape.

Dune

Physical and symbolic sense of place is also a central issue in Frank Herbert's

Dune, a novel that stages the collision of two cultural paradigms: one ecocentric and one

ecologically and politically exploitive. Lamenting that modern culture has not preserved

native ecological wisdom, the environmental education theorist C.A. Bowers writes,

"Native American cultures [. .] had evolved in ecologically responsive ways; but what

could have been learned from their thousands of years of experience in adapting to the

unique characteristics of their habitat was ignored because they were perceived as

unenlightened and pre-modern" (10-11). Bowers supports Native American indigenous

knowledge in his effort to invigorate a pedagogical shift toward ecological literacy.

Looking back on Dune, we see Herbert's similar effort to revalue indigenous ways of life.

Interestingly, scholars have compared the aboriginal culture of Dune, the Fremen,

to the Apache and to other natives of the North American Southwest. The Fremen









possess a "superb knowledge of their environment" (O'Reilly 41) and "a kind of earth-

wisdom" that allows them to live with the dry climate and carnivorous sandworms of

their planet Arrakis, or Dune (O'Reilly 42). As ecologically aware inhabitants of an arid

ecosystem, the Fremen have developed "the ability to sense even the slightest change in

the air's moisture" (Herbert, Dune 301). In school, Fremen children chant the names of

plant and animal species as well as geological and seasonal concepts such as "'erosion'"

and "'summer,'" demonstrating their burgeoning ecological conscience (336). Indeed,

the Fremen are "dwellers"; they live well in their place. Unlike the transient regimes that

the Emperor places as colonial administrators of Arrakis and that merely need to know

how to mine the spice produced by the sandworms, the Fremen inhabit Arrakis.

Environmental thinkers distinguish dwellers, or inhabitants, from "residents,"

providing an ideal framework for discussing the disparity between Dune's Fremen and its

politically and economically powerful entities. Another environmental education

specialist, David W. Orr, notes, "The inhabitant and a particular habitat cannot be

separated without doing violence to both. [. .] The inhabitant and place mutually shape

each other" (102). To dwell, as Ivan Illich defines it, is "to inhabit one's own traces, to

let daily life write the webs and knots of one's biography into the landscape" (22). By

contrast, "the resident is a temporary and rootless occupant who mostly needs to know

where the banks and stores are in order to plug in. [. .] To reside is to live as a transient

and as a stranger to one's place" (Orr 102).

Resembling Ish's new society in Earth Abides, the Fremen are dwellers.

Arrakis's desertscape has shaped their symbolisms and technologies. To make the point

clear, Herbert contrasts the cultural assumptions of Arrakis's most recently appointed









administrators-the Atreides regime that has moved from the water-rich Caladan-with

those of the Fremen. In one tense scene, Stilgar, a Fremen leader, spits on Duke Leto

Atreides' table:

The Fremen stared at the Duke, then slowly pulled aside his veil, revealing a thin
nose and full-lipped mouth in a glistening black beard. Deliberately he bent over
the end of the table, spat on its polished surface.

As the men around the table started to surge to their feet, Idaho's voice boomed
across the room: "Hold!"

Into the sudden charged stillness, Idaho said: "We thank you, Stilgar, for the gift
of your body's moisture. We accept it in the spirit with which it is given." And
Idaho spat on the table in front of the Duke. (92)

Duncan Idaho, one of the Duke's men, must then remind the Duke of the value of

water, and thus of saliva, on Arrakis: "'Remember how precious water is here, Sire.

That was a token of respect'" (92). The Fremen also see crying differently than the

foreign Atreides, so when the Duke's son and heir to the Atreides throne, Paul, cries over

the death of a Fremen man he killed in a ritual battle, the Fremen appreciate his gift of

"moisture to the dead" rather than despise him in his victory (306).

Technologically, the Fremen also possess a consciousness of place, a consciousness

exhibited in the suits they wear to conserve water. Explaining these "stillsuits," Liet-

Kynes, Dune's important planetary ecologist, states, "'It's basically a micro-sandwich-a

high-efficiency filter and heat-exchange system. [. .] The skin-contact layer's porous.

Perspiration passes through it, having cooled the body .. near-normal evaporation

process. The next two layers [. .] include heat exchange filaments and salt precipitators.

Salt's reclaimed'" (109). The stillsuits process urine and feces and reclaim most of the

body's water for its Fremen wearer to drink again, all with the energy provided by body

movement. "'With a Fremen suit in good working order,'" Kynes insists, "'you won't









lose more than a thimbleful of moisture a day'" (109). Viewed from the perspective of a

modern culture whose technological conventions flaunt human supremacy, Fremen

stillsuits "emphasize appropriate and environmentally sensitive technology rather than

high-tech gadgetry for its own sake" (Gough 409). As such, stillsuits threaten a status

quo, supported in modern ecocolonial trajectories, in which cultural and technological

progress is measured in terms of the degree to which human supremacy is accentuated.

The antipathy toward dwelling that emerges out of the hegemony's fear of contrary

ideologies is represented in Dune by the opposition toward the Fremen shown by those in

power. The colonial powers demonstrate such contempt for Fremen, in fact, that we can

discern Herbert's subtext: to live well in a place-to be indigenous-disrupts the

mechanisms of the residing powerful who see place through an economic lens, in this

case, through the promise of spice profits. The Fremen are "marked down on no census

of the Imperial Regate"; the Imperium does not recognize their existence (Herbert, Dune

5). In fact, the Emperor's thought about the Fremen demonstrates this erasure of identity

and being, while it also shows how the hegemony views place not in terms of natural

ecology but of economic class: "'but what else is one to expect of barbarians whose

dearest dream is to live outside the ordered security of the faufreluches?'" (the Imperial

system of place based on class distinctions) (78).

Paul Atreides takes an early interest in Arrakis as a place and in the Fremen as the

planet's dwelling culture, but the resident attitudes of the power structure prevent him

from forming such a divergent consciousness. Before the Atreides leave for Arrakis one

of Paul's mentors, Thufir Hawat, insists to Paul, "'A place is only a place. [. .] And

Arrakis is just another place,'" thereby instilling in him the values of a transient resident









(28). When Paul admits he has been studying the great storms of Arrakis, Hawat again

prevents him from developing an ecological connection to the planet, this time scaring

him:

"Those storms build up across six or seven thousand kilometers of flatlands, feed
on anything that can give them a push-coriolis force, other storms, anything that
has an ounce of energy in it. They can blow up to seven hundred kilometers an
hour, loaded with everything loose that's in their way-sand, dust, everything.
They can eat flesh off bones and etch the bones to slivers." (28)

And like the Emperor, Hawat scorns Arrakis's Fremen, stating, "'There's little to

tell them from the folk of the graben and sink. They all wear those great flowing robes.

And they stink to heaven in any closed space. It's from those suits they wear-call them

'stillsuits'-that reclaim the body's own water'" (29). Hawat discourages Paul from

acquiring a bond with Arrakis as a place to dwell and with the planet's ecologically

literate people. He teaches Paul to fear the planet, and he admits to himself the reason for

doing so: "Perhaps I'm doing it, getting across to him the importance of this planet as an

enemy. It's madness to go in there i ith,,,t that caution in our minds" (29).

While Hawat instills in Paul the resident posture necessary for a future colonial

leader, the Reverend Mother of the Bene Gesserit-a religious group that has its own

political motives-makes Paul very aware of Arrakis's natural ecology in order to make

him a good ruler who, presumably, can feign dwelling while exploiting the Fremen (30).

She tells him "'a good ruler has to learn his world's language, [. .] the language of the

rocks and growing things, the language you don't just hear with your ears'" (30). As the

critic Susan Stratton notes, Paul "solve[s] the mysteries of Arrakis ecology and learns] to

fit into the corresponding culture of its indigenous people," though he does so not to

become an inhabitant of the planet but to "accomplish his goal, which is to reclaim the

planet for the Atreides" after the rival House Harkonnen wrests power from Paul's father









(307). Paul's teachers, Hawat and the Reverend Mother, thus condition him to be a

resident before he even steps onto Arrakis.

That the Fremen are dwellers and the Emperor, House Atreides, the Bene Gesserit,

and all others involved in the exploitation of Arrakis are residents is an important

distinction to make, for it gives more credence to Dune as "an important first step for a

generation of SF readers who needed to learn the fundamentals of ecology" (Stratton

313). But contrary to Stratton's observation that "Dune does nothing to show us a way

out of the environmental crisis we face," Herbert's novel does take an active role in

examining alternatives to the anti-ecological status quo (314). In particular, if we look at

Dune within the context of the inhabitant/resident dichotomy that it sets up with its

contrasting cultures, we find that the novel subversively favors the sense of place and

community maintained by the indigenous Fremen while it criticizes the resident attitudes

of power held by those involved in Arrakis's exploitation, attitudes that ultimately

infiltrate even the Fremen ways.

One of the ironies of the Fremen's existence as an ecologically conscious

civilization is that their quest for political independence involves major intervention in

Arrakis's desert ecology, creating seas and thereby exterminating the sandworms, ending

economic interest in the planet. Indeed, the anthropocentric desire to reshape Arrakis to

"fit it to man's needs" is a case of adapting the place to the people rather than the people

to the place-a direct contradiction of subversive ecology's motives (477). While this

irony complicates Dune's position as an ecocritical science fiction text, it becomes less of

a problem if we consider that the terraforming effort involves three to five centuries of

collecting water and educating generations of Fremen about the ecological system being









created. Describing the effort, Stilgar says, "'We change [Arrakis] ... slowly but with

certainty ... to make it fit for human life. Our generation will not see it, nor our children

nor our children's children nor the grandchildren of their children but it will come"'

(283).

Besides being deliberate in its goals, the Fremen terraforming project is

ecologically conscious and constructive, offering instruction for Fremen children on the

dynamics of a healthy ecosystem and in effect acting as a lesson in ecology for readers of

Herbert's novel. "Ephemerals [. .], then scotch broom, low lupine, vine eucalyptus [. .],

dwarf tamarisk, shore pine" all work together in the new Dune ecosystem, as do

candelillaa, saguaro, and bis-naga, the barrel cactus [. .] camel sage, onion grass, gobi

feather grass, wild alfalfa, burrow bush, sand verbena, evening primrose, incense bush,

smoke tree, creosote bush" (482). The animals needed in the system include "burrowing

creatures to open the soil and aerate it," "predators to keep them in check," "insects to fill

the niches these couldn't reach," and "the desert bat to keep watch on these" (482).

While the human-centered "specter of terra (terror)forming," as the SF scholar Ernest J.

Yanarella calls it, may still haunt Dune, the Fremen's managerial ecology-their eco-

systemist stance-can be read less as a narrative of the Enlightenment will-to-dominate

nature and more as a way of setting up the Fremen as an intentional, ecologically aware

society whose respect for the dynamics of place works hand-in-hand with their political

needs as a colonized people (225).

Unfortunately, Fremen ecological literacy succumbs to political expediency,

marking the defeat of ecocentric lifeways and the spread of the less sustainable modes of

being necessitated by colonialist pressures and supported by newfound power. Paul









Atreides plays in to the legend of the "Mahdi"-the messiah who will lead the Fremen to

paradise-instilled in the Fremen culture by the Bene Gesserit's Missionaria Protectiva,

"the arm of the Bene Gesserit order charged with sowing infectious superstitions on

primitive worlds, thus opening those regions to exploitation by the Bene Gesserit" (507).

He promises the Fremen a more rapid path to independence, looking past their deliberate

terraforming effort and instead instigating ajihad. As Paul's mother, Jessica, reflects,

"Gathering water, planting the dunes, changing their world slowly but surely 1/w e,' are

no longer enough [. .]. The little raids, the certain raids these are no longer enough

now that Paul and I have trained them. They feel their power. They want to fight" (388).

But the fight is less political revolution by the Fremen than it is social and religious

manipulation by the Atreides. Earlier in the novel, Jessica thinks, "These Fremen are

beautifully prepared to believe in us," crediting the Missionaria Protectiva's "sowing"

(277). The Fremen "could be wielded like a sword to win back Paul's place for him"

after the Atreides' rival house has taken over (311).

Central to Paul's politically revolutionary rhetoric is his instigation of faith in an

accelerated Fremen terraforming project. As Leonard M. Scigaj observes of Dune

Messiah, the second book in the Dune series, the Fremen Farok's "only personal motive

for enlisting in the war [. .] is to realize his fantasy of immersing himself in a real sea"

(342). Perhaps the reason Farok believes he will see Arrakian seas in his lifetime, as

opposed to expecting the change to come in three to five generations, is Paul's rousing

speech in Dune: "'What's our goal' Paul asked. 'To unseat Rabban, the Harkonnen

beast, and remake our world into a place where we may raise our families in happiness

amidst an abundance of water'" (414). That Paul convinces the living Fremen-"we"









rather than "our future generations"-that they will raise their families in such a paradise

demonstrates the power of the ideology of expediency that Herbert makes a key issue in

his novel. In fact, when historicizing the terraforming scheme in Dune's appendix,

Dune's narrator writes of the original plan, "the Ecological-Fremen were aimed along

their way. Liet-Kynes had only to watch and nudge and spy upon the Harkonnens ...

until the day his planet was afflicted by a Hero" (483).

In the end, Paul Atreides is an affliction, both politically and ecologically. He pulls

the Fremen from their dwelling roots, from their deliberate ways as an indigenous culture

fighting political oppression in a way compatible with their long-established, sustainable

ways of life. Paul's jihad does not free the Fremen from colonial subjugation. Instead, it

places them under the power of another hegemony, denying them the total independence

that the terraforming plan would have permitted and forcing them into the hands of the

ruling class. In Dune Messiah, Paul's complete control over the terraforming effort

provokes some resistance. Fremen resent the jihad, which Farok admits in retrospect was

fueled by a desire for "'experiences, adventure, wealth,'" and indeed the seas (58). And

as Paul observes, the Fremen had "become a civilization of [. .] people who solved all

problems with power .. and more power .. and still more power" (225). Paul's

revolution acts as a social trap for the Fremen, where "players," in this case the Fremen,

"are lured into behavior that eventually undermines the health and stability of the system"

(Orr 5). The Fremen followed Paul into ajihad that only freed them from being

overpowered rather than from power itself, a power that finally undermines their

sustainable existence.









The critique of the dynamics of power in Dune is, in the end, its subversive act.

The power Paul brings to the Fremen is a misfortune because it only inserts them into an

already established and violent system of power exchange without permitting them a

space for independence outside this system, independence they were attempting to gain

with their terraforming project. As a dwelling culture, the Fremen can exist outside this

system of globalized, or rather universalized, hegemony, just as native cultures of the

North American continent existed independently of European power before colonization.

But to exist as a sovereign social body-something dependent upon a culture's ecological

self-sustainability-endangers the political systems of empire, which needs the resources

of those independent entities. Thus, the Fremen must be integrated and made compatible

with the residing powerful. To suggest that such integration can only result in more

struggle, as Herbert does, is indeed a politically subversive proclamation against the

viability of empire. Further, to call out imperial processes as traps against the cultures

that these processes subjugate is also a subversive move. Herbert's critical ecology

emerges when the removal of Fremen ecological lifeways becomes the means of

integrating them into the hegemony. Getting the dwellers to reside is the method of the

empire, and this is the method of which Herbert is most critical.

Conclusion

Kynes' father, the designer of the Fremen terraforming project, insists, "'the

highest function of ecology is the understanding of consequences'" (482). O'Reilly notes

that this statement is taken almost directly from Sears (55). The definition of ecology as

the understanding of consequences is also supported by the biologist Garrett Hardin, who

sees ecological literacy or "ecolacy" as the ability to ask "And then what?" (25). And Orr

notes, "[ecological literacy] implies the ability to think broadly, to know something of









what is hitched to what" (87). Not only Dune, but also Last and First Men, "Twilight,"

and Earth Abides are all concerned with consequences, with the question "And then

what?" and with "what is hitched to what." These are narratives that address the effects

of human ideas and actions on natural systems and ask, "And then what happens when

our doctrinal commitments have led to the exhaustion of resources and the resulting

ecological and social poverties?" They ask: What happens to our own humanity when

wilderness no longer exists? What happens when we sever ourselves from our essential

animality? And what happens when modern institutions co-opt those cultures yet to

travel down the path of the anthropocentric detour?

The collective portrait sketched in these early SF stories is not only one of forward-

looking ecological concerns. It also addresses what is hitched to what and finds many of

the fundamentals of modern lifeways to be hitched to the despoilment of a healthy

biosphere and of the cultural systems that support such a biosphere. In this regard, Last

andFirst Men, "Twilight," Earth Abides, and Dune express their ecological consciences

in their radical questioning of the status-quo systems that bring about ecological harm.

Such questioning would continue in science fiction as the genre grew with the post-

Rachel Carson environmental movement, aligning itself with the more specific critiques

of human-centeredness, male-centeredness, and capitalism that developed out of the

general subversive attitudes of ecology.














CHAPTER 4
ECOTOPIA, DYS(ECO)TOPIA, AND THE VISIONS OF DEEP ECOLOGY

As the physicist Fritjof Capra writes, the modem customs instigating ecological

degradation result from a "crisis of perception [. .] derived] from the fact that most of

us and especially our large social institutions subscribe to the concepts and values of an

outdated worldview, which is inadequate for dealing with the problems of our

overpopulated, globally interconnected world" (19). Capra's specific interest is in

challenging the human-centered and mechanistic ideas of Galileo, Bacon, Newton, and

Descartes that still pervade modern thinking and inform modem practices, as well as

confronting the insidious assumption that all economic growth "is good and that more

growth is always better" (23). To his delight, Capra observes the emergence of a

paradigm that effectively contests such ideas: deep ecology. Deep ecology is "a holistic

worldview," "an ecological worldview," a worldview that "recognizes the intrinsic values

of all living beings and views humans as just one particular strand in the web of life"

(20). In such recognition, deep ecology encourages profound moral and ethical changes,

changes that can be described as components of an ecological conscience.

As demonstrated so far in this study, a crucial step for inspiring ecological

consciousness is to break down worldviews that divide humans from nonhuman nature

and to locate new ecocentric paradigms that assert the intrinsic value of the natural world

and understand humans as actors within, not against, ecosystems. In this chapter, I show

how two utopian science fiction novels of the 1970s-Ernest Callenbach's Ecotopia

(1975) and Marge Piercy's Woman on the Edge of Time (1976)-reflect the ideological









and practical changes that deep ecology advocates, while John Brunner's dystopian

novels envision worlds where the ecotopian, deep ecological impulse is suppressed and

even annihilated. Although I do not aim to show that Callenbach, Piercy, and Brunner

are deep ecologists or were directly influenced by deep ecology's major thinkers, I do

hope to illustrate that their novels are important theoretical excursions into deep

ecology's philosophical territories. Regarding the ecotopian fiction-the subject of the

first section of this chapter-I support Bill Devall and George Sessions' vision of

ecotopian possibility: "Creating ecotopian futures has practical value. It helps us

articulate our goals and presents an ideal which may never be completely realized but

which keeps us focused on the ideal. We can also compare our personal actions and

collective public decisions on specific issues with this goal" (162).

Though not students of utopia, Devall and Sessions echo scholars whose works

assert the value of the utopian imagination in modem culture. They do for ecotopian

fiction what utopian literary scholars do for utopian fiction-that is, declare the

importance of what Lyman Tower Sargent calls "social dreaming" for the formation of an

alternative society (1). As Tom Moylan writes in Demand the Impossible, in producing

utopian images "that radically break with prevailing social systems [. .] utopian

discourse articulates the possibility of other ways of living in the world" (26). Wegner

takes Moylan a step further, demonstrating the ways that the imaginary communities of

Thomas More's Utopia, Edward Bellamy's Looking Backward, Ursula Le Guin's The

Dispossessed, and other texts have transcended the status of being books about possibility

and have figured into modern nation building. Referencing Antonio Gramsci, Wegner

notes,









in the narrative utopia, the presentation of an "ideal world" operates as a kind of
lure, a play on deep desires, both immediately historical and otherwise, to draw its
readers in and thereby enable the form's educational machinery to go to work-a
machinery that enables its readers to perceive the world they occupy in a new way,
providing them with some of the skills and dispositions necessary to inhabit an
emerging social, political, and cultural environment. (2)

Thus, utopian fiction is fiction of possibility and praxis; its social dreaming

envisions optional cultural paths and instructs social and political progression toward

these paths.

Deep ecology's endorsement of ecotopian fiction stems from the "ideal world" that

ecotopias imagine. A movement grounded in a belief in species equality, spiritual

interconnectedness, and the shared right of all living things to participate in their own

self-realization within dynamic ecosystems, deep ecology finds in ecotopian texts the

narration of many of its desires. Ecotopian space, unlike the space of the modern world,

intrudes little on other species. Its human inhabitants participate in communal

governments and promote economic systems that are not growth-centered and resource-

intensive. Ecotopian fiction portrays worlds far different from the originary world that it

contests, articulating ecologically conscientious lifeways hitherto restrained by modern

social, political, economic, and even religious hegemony. Ecotopian fiction is also an

instructive "educational machinery," a cognitively estranging lens through which readers

can compare their world with that proposed in fiction and as a result better perceive the

flaws of current systems. Devall and Sessions' confidence in ecotopian fiction stems

from their understanding of the possibilities of ecotopia for narrowing, in their words,

"the distance between what ought to be and what is now reality in our technocratic-

industrial society" (162). Callenbach's and Piercy's texts are valuable for this reason.









Deep Ecology, Ecotopia, and Woman on the Edge of Time

Ecotopia chronicles the visit of New York Times-Post reporter William Weston to

Ecotopia, the area once comprising Washington, Oregon, and northern California.

Ecotopia seceded from the United States twenty years prior to Weston's visit, and

Weston's purpose there is to write a series of articles documenting the practices of the

nation's inhabitants. These practices include the development of a "stable-state," anti-

growth economy and a national goal to reduce population. Early in the text, Weston's

newspaper articles-which along with his private diary make up the novel-are openly

critical of Ecotopian ways: their lack of traffic and billboards is drab and isolating, their

recycling is "an enormous expenditure of personal effort" (18), and their elimination of

processed foods and putting certain foods on "'Bad Practice lists'" (20) is "a loophole

that might house a large and rather totalitarian rat" (21). Despite the reporter's bias, later

in the novel he admits that his attitude toward the nation is changing: "the more closely I

look at the fabric of Ecotopian life, the more I am forced to admit its strength and its

beauty" (103). And though Weston's visit to Ecotopia is only supposed to last six weeks,

he ultimately stays there. In a letter to his editor he writes, "I've decided not to come

back, Max. You 'll understand why from the notebook. But thank you for sending me on

this assignment, when neither you nor I knew where it might lead. It led me home" (181).

A similar reevaluation of ecotopian life occurs in Piercy's Woman on the Edge of

Time as the book's main character, Connie Ramos, admits she wishes her young daughter

could grow up in Mattapoisett, the novel's future ecotopia:

She will be strange, but she will be glad and strong and she will not be afraid. She
will have enough. She will have pride. She will love her own brown skin and be
loved for her strength and her good work. She will walk in strength like a man and
never sell her body and she will nurse her babies like a woman and live in love like









a garden, like that children's house of many colors. People of the rainbow with its
end fixed in earth, I give her to you! (133)

She has reasons to wish such a fate for her daughter, for Connie has grown up in a

fast-paced New York City, has lived on the streets, has been physically and mentally

abused by men, has had the one man she ever loved taken away from her by the prison

system and killed in a medical experiment, and during the course of the novel is herself

forced into a medical experiment while living in a mental health facility. Despite the

aversion Connie should have toward existing social institutions, like Weston in

Callenbach's book she is reluctant to accept the promises of ecotopia, of Mattapoisett.

Her friend from Mattapoisett in the year 2137, Luciente, informs her of the fundamental

and positive changes that have occurred in the alternative future, most of which are

grounded in the reharmonization of humans with the rest of nature. Living under the

supremacy of modern technocratic thought, though, Connie can only doubt the viability

of these changes. She questions the city's lack of social hierarchy, patriarchy, and

government. But the revolutionary thinkers living in the ecotopian future ultimately

assist Connie on a journey to free herself from the forces that have dominated her life for

so long. In the end, while she does not get to live in the future ecotopia, "she thought of

Mattapoisett" as she revolts against the hegemony (364).1

As utopias that contrast the perceptions and actions of modern, Western culture

with those of ecotopian possibility, and that favor the latter, Ecotopia and Woman on the


1 Billie Maciunas sees Connie's revolt-poisoning four doctors with pesticide she stole from her brother-
as an act of violence, a poor course for implementing utopian changes (256). Importantly, though,
Connie's violence attests to the dominance of the patriarchal worldview to which she has been
indoctrinated all her life, and therefore to which she must succumb in order to undergo a personal
revolution. Piercy's controversial ending thus demonstrates her awareness that changing from modem
paradigms to utopian paradigms is a difficult task, as the hegemony will not respond to the diplomatic tools
of utopia.









Edge of Time explore the changes that deep ecologists support. In summarizing the

strategies for ecological sustainability promoted by Arne Naess, the Norwegian

environmental philosopher who coined the expression "deep ecology" in the early 1970s,

David E. Cooper writes, "Among the policies advocated by Naess are radical reduction of

the world's population, abandonment of the goal of economic growth in the developed

world, conservation of biotic diversity, living in small, simple, and self-reliant

communities, and-less specifically-a commitment 'to touch the Earth lightly'" (213).

Callenbach's and Piercy's ecotopian spaces display similar commitments to these

policies. They challenge modern paradigms and advance ecologically literate and

sustainable worldviews and practices, ultimately informing the deep ecological

conscience.

Population and Economy

Both Arne Naess and Gary Snyder, another important voice in the deep ecology

movement, agree that taking steps to reduce world population is central to achieving

ecological sustainability. In his seminal 1973 essay "The Shallow and the Deep, Long-

Range Ecology Movements: A Summary," Naess sketches his concept of biospherical

egalitarianism, which is a fundamental principle of environmental movements wishing to

go beyond mere "shallow" efforts to cut pollution and resource depletion, efforts really

aimed to preserve "natural resources" for affluent nations (151). Biospherical

egalitarianism requires "a deep-seated respect, or even veneration, for ways and forms of

life" (151-152). It eschews hierarchies of being, instead observing "the equal right to live

and blossom" for all forms of life (152). Importantly, biospherical egalitarianism

"implies the reinterpretation of the future-research variable, 'level of crowding,' so that

general mammalian crowding and loss of life-equality is taken seriously, not only human









crowding" (152). It is implicit in Naess's argument that species equality necessitates the

protection of appropriate life-space requirements for all organisms. And since life-space

for any one species is reduced as another species overcrowds and infiltrates, human

overpopulation violates egalitarian principles.

Because human overcrowding poses such a threat to the rights of other species,

Snyder, in "Four Changes," suggests cutting world population-that of 1974-in half.

His reasoning is similar to Naess's:

Position: Man is but a part of the fabric of life-dependent on the whole fabric
for his very existence. As the most highly developed tool-using animal, he must
recognize that the unknown evolutionary destinies of other life forms are to be
respected, and act as gentle stewards of the earth's community of being.

Situation: There are now too many human beings, and the problem is growing
rapidly worse. It is potentially disastrous not only for the human race but for most
other life forms. (141-142)

The population problem can be addressed on the social and political levels, Snyder

believes, by convincing governments that human overpopulation is a serious problem, by

legalizing abortion and promoting sterilization, by questioning and correcting cultural

ways of thinking that press women to have children, and by refusing to see a nation's

growing population as a sign of a good economy (142). On the level of community,

Snyder endorses alternative marriage structures, sharing "the pleasures of raising children

widely, so that all need not directly reproduce to enter into this basic human experience"

(142), limiting family size, adopting children, and as Naess also encourages, developing

"a reverence for other species" (143).

Reflecting the spirit of deep ecological thinking, Ecotopia approaches the human

population problem in a manner similar to Naess and Snyder. As if guided by Snyder's

political concerns, "After secession, Ecotopians adopted a formal national goal of a









declining population" (67). Ecotopians want to reduce population to minimize pressure

on other species, and they begin their efforts by legalizing and lowering the cost of

abortion, by universalizing female contraceptives, by associating life quality with a

decentralized society dispersed "into the countryside" rather than with population growth

and economic expansion, and by disintegrating the nuclear family (67-69). On this final

point, "Ecotopians still speak of 'families,' but they mean by that term a group of

between five and 20 people, some of them actually related and some not, who live

together" (69-70). Raising children is a shared duty in these "communal groups" (70).

The efforts to control population in Woman on the Edge of Time similarly reflect

the ideas of deep ecology. Though Mattapoisett's use of brooderss," in which babies are

grown in tanks, is more of a science fictional example of population control than

Ecotopia's political and social methods, it nevertheless represents a mode of

consciousness that values conscientious control over a society's population. Analyzing

science fiction texts as narrating critical changes in our society often uncovers such

strange examples of how to go about change; but since the nature of the genre is to

fictionalize speculative thought, examples like Mattapoisett's brooders must be viewed as

fictional representations of particular modes of consciousness. Thus the brooder becomes

not a real possibility but a manifestation of a particular way of thinking. Besides the

brooders as a means of population control, the residents of Mattapoisett also choose not

to use their scientific expertise to find ways to prolong life. Addressing this issue,

Luciente admits, "'I think it comes down to the fact we're still reducing population'"

(269). Finally, similar to the communal groups of Ecotopia, and to the community child









rearing Snyder proposes, Mattapoisett's children are assigned three "mothers," or

nurturers, who can be male or female.2

Ecotopia and Woman on the Edge of Time thus serve deep ecology as educational

machineries in that they present societies attempting to fulfill the movement's goal to

reduce population. The methods of the former are less fictional than those of Woman on

the Edge of Time, and in fact mirror Snyder's viable proposals, while the latter novel

exploits the generic conventions of science fiction as it speculates on fantastic solutions

to the human population problem. Despite these differences, the novels both generate

awareness of human overpopulation and reasons why such overpopulation is a problem,

awareness that deep ecology finds key to creating an ecologically sustainable world.

Along with human overpopulation, the modern mania surrounding economic

growth and consumerism has distressed the world's ecosystems by encouraging a severe

exceeding of natural thresholds. As Sessions notes in his preface to Deep Ecology for the

21st Century,

Government leaders and economic elites in Industrial Growth Societies continue to
push for endless economic growth and development. [. .] Third World countries
are now entering global markets and trying to become First World countries by
destroying their ecosystems and wild species as they emulate the industrial and
consumer patterns of the ecologically destructive unsustainable First World. (xx)

Earth Policy Institute president Lester R. Brown speaks also to this point: "Over

the last half-century, the sevenfold expansion of the global economy has pushed the

demand on local ecosystems beyond the sustainable yield in country after country" (79).

Brown's specific concern is with the growth economy's injurious effects on oceanic



2 As Barbara Drake summarizes, "What Piercy substitutes for the paired father and mother is a cooperative
of three 'Mothers' for each child. They may be male or female. They volunteer to 'Mother.' [.. .] With
the mothers, the child becomes part of a loose familial group, co-mothers and others" (114).









fisheries, forests, and rangelands. Since economic growth is so responsible for violating

the tenets of biospherical egalitarianism everywhere, deep ecologists advocate

fundamental changes in the ways developing and industrial societies view such growth.

Rather than valuing economic expansion, deep ecologists-and the SF writers discussed

here-look toward more ecologically conscientious economic paradigms.

Arne Naess outlines several lifestyle changes necessary for restructuring a growth-

centered mentality into an ecologically sustainable economic paradigm:

"Anticonsumerism and minimization of personal property"; "Endeavor to maintain and

increase sensitivity and appreciation of goods of which there is enough for all to enjoy";

"Absence or low degree of 'novophilia'-the love of what is new merely because it is

new. Cherishing old and well-worn things"; "the attempt to avoid a material standard of

living too much different from and higher than the needy"; and "Appreciation of

lifestyles which are universalizable, which are not blatantly impossible to sustain without

injustice toward fellow humans or other species" ("Deep Ecology and Lifestyle" 260). In

encouraging less consumption, common standards of living, and egalitarianism between

and among species, these changes advance life behaviors that reject the exploitive

practices of a modern growth economy that hardly confirms the intrinsic value of species

or shows any reverence for nonhuman life.

Like Naess, Snyder hopes for changes in modern society's deep-seated,

unsustainable economic worldview. In fact, he offers a very Thoreauvian maxim: "True

affluence is not needing anything," a direct challenge to the growth economy (146). With

his assertion that "a continually 'growing economy' is no longer healthy, but a Cancer,"

Snyder also offers a potent critique of the myth of progress (146). Rather than blindly









accepting economic progress without considering its deleterious effects on ecosystems

and social systems, Snyder supports an economy that operates as a part of ecology, that

handles production, distribution, and consumption "with the same elegance and spareness

one sees in nature" (146). For Snyder, personal possessions should surrender to

communal sharing, and the modern fascination with new technologies should surrender to

a high esteem for old ways: "handicrafts, gardening, home skills, mid-wifery, herbs-all

the things that can make us independent, beautiful and whole" (146). Both Ecotopia and

Woman on the Edge of Time share similar, deep ecological concerns.

In his first newspaper article on the subject of Ecotopia, Weston displays his

growth-centered culture's fear of the utopian nation's anti-growth economy: "Ecotopia

still poses a nagging challenge to the underlying national philosophy of America: ever-

continuing progress, the fruit of industrialization for all, a rising Gross National Product"

(4). Weston sees Ecotopia's stable-state system as a nagging challenge because "it means

giving up any notions of progress. You just want to get to that stable point and stay there,

like a lump" (33). His observations suggest the deep-seated faith that his US culture has

in the myth of progress, while they also censure economic systems that see progress,

industrialization, and a rising GNP as unnecessary and unhealthy. What Weston fails to

understand about Ecotopia's economic model, however, is its underlying motive to

preserve the integrity of ecological systems and to fulfill the ethics of ecological equality.

He does at least understand the Ecotopian point-of-view, stating "humans were meant to

take their modest place in a seamless, stable-state web of living organisms, disturbing

that web as little as possible" and "People were to be happy not to the extent they

dominated their fellow creatures on the earth, but to the extent they lived in balance with









them" (47-48). But Weston's rhetoric reflects more the attitudes of the growth-focused

hegemony. He analyzes Ecotopia's stable-state economy using the doctrines of the

capitalist system-a move that neglects the possibility of a new language and philosophy

for the stable-state-inevitably condemning the new system as hopeless. For if Weston's

readers believe, along with the Ecotopian economists who are "highly regarded in the

American nation," that Ecotopia cannot maintain a decent "standard of living" with its

twenty-hour work week, that Ecotopia's system cannot attract "capital," and that the

nation will suffer "financial collapse," then they will see Ecotopia's economic paradigm

shift as a failure even if it succeeds (48). Viewed within the context of capitalism, the

stable-state system will always fail. Ecotopia narrates the concerns of deep ecology,

then, as it presents the fundamental challenges of moving from an ecologically

unsustainable and hegemonic economic structure to one that devalues economic

expansion and works toward Snyder's true affluence.

An ecologically sustainable economic system also exists in Piercy's book, and

again the system is one that someone indoctrinated into the capitalist myth of progress

would find difficult to accept. Connie's expectations when first arriving in Mattapoisett

demonstrate her faith in a booming capitalist future: "Rocket ships, skyscrapers into the

stratosphere, an underground mole world miles deep, glass domes over everything" (62).

But opening her eyes she sees instead the village of a bucolic past, prompting her to ask

Luciente, "'You sure we went in the right direction? Into the future?'" (62). Luciente

assents and Connie replies questioningly, "'Forward, into the past? Okay, it's better to

live in a green meadow than on 111th Street. But all this striving and struggling to end

up in the same old bind'" (64). This sentiment repeats William Weston's concern that









Ecotopia's stable-state system is weak because it lacks "progress." Both protagonists

reflect the capitalist tendency to view as backwards the alternative lifeways that do not

depend on a constant flow of commodities through markets and a constant reinvestment

of capital into new, marketable stuff. As in Ecotopia, Woman on the Edge of Time

contributes to the utopian conversations of deep ecology by showing how the ruling

economic dogma prevents its followers from envisioning the potentials of ecologically

sustainable economic systems. Callenbach and Piercy's hopeful messages are

communicated by the fact that Weston and Connie ultimately accept these ecotopias as

more viable and healthier places to exist.

Perception, Community, and Ecocentric Living

Besides encouraging a reduction of world population and an economy that disdains

the notion of growth, deep ecology supports the ecological perception of "Organisms as

knots in the biospherical net or field of intrinsic relations," a "relational, total-field

image" akin to Leopold's metaphorical tangle of chains (Naess, "The Shallow and the

Deep" 151). Such thinking requires a fundamental change in the way Western societies

perceive the world. Rather than separating humans from the surrounding world, as

higher up in an ontological hierarchy or as actors upon a wealth of "natural resources,"

deep ecologists promote a spiritual epistemology that sees no disconnections between and

among species, and even between species and landscapes. In other words, to borrow

from Arne Naess, to divide A and B changes the constitutions of both, thus A cannot be

said to exist on its own, without B.

A self-admitted Buddhist-Animist who derives his eco-philosophy from Buddhist

concepts of organic unity and Animist ideas about the spiritual matrix that connects all

life and material (Taylor, "Snyder"), Gary Snyder contributes much to deep ecology's









philosophical stance on humanity's fundamental and essential embeddedness in the

natural world: "Man is but a part of the fabric of life-dependent on the whole fabric for

his very existence" (141). In fact, in "Four Changes" he insists that such understanding is

necessary to solve the population boom, to limit pollution and consumption, and to

restrain the rapid and unsustainable growth of civilization. Indeed, to see the intrinsic

connections between the components of natural systems is also to understand the harsh

effects modem human civilization has imposed on the environment, because alterations

of ecosystems forced by destructive technologies, impulsive residential development,

rapid extraction of resources, and so forth, jeopardize the healthy interconnectedness of

those systems. For Snyder, such impositions suggest a defective spiritual perception in

modern culture, rectified only through a fundamental individual and cultural reconnection

to the nonhuman world.

Callenbach's ecotopian society comprehends the importance of the perception of

interconnectedness that comes with ecological understanding, encouraging ecological

wisdom at all stages of life. About Ecotopian school children, Weston writes,

The experiences of the children are closely tied in with studies of plants, animals
and landscape. I have been impressed with the knowledge that even young
children have of such matters-a six-year-old can tell you all about the "ecological
niches" of the creatures and plants he encounters in his daily life. He will also
know what roots and berries are edible, how to use soap plant, how to carve a pot
holder from a branch. (38-39)

Further, an Ecotopian ten-year-old knows "how hundreds of species of plants and

animals live, both around their schools and in the areas they explore on backpacking

expeditions" (130). Such knowledge, even in young children, would be taken for granted

in an ecologically conscientious society. But traditional education takes for granted

conservative pedagogical models, which according to Bowers emphasize "the recovery









(and rediscovery) of the intellectual achievements of the past"; "moral and spiritual

growth; the ability to participate as an enfranchised citizen who bears both freedoms and

responsibilities; and the intellectual foundations and skills necessary for earning a living"

rather than the knowledge necessary to live with the environment (37-38). Just as

ignorant of ecology is the liberal model of education, which focuses on "the progressive

nature of social development," individualism, and rational, linear thinking (Bowers 74-

76). Perhaps Weston writes "ecological niches" within quotation marks because of his

readers' unfamiliarity with the term. To be sure, their Western education has not

accounted for ecology in the same way the Ecotopians' has. In fact, Ecotopian adults can

be heard saying, "'Knowing yourself as an animal creature on the earth, as we do. It can

feel more comfortable than [Weston 's] kind of life'" (87-88) and "' We don't think in

terms of 'things, there's no such thing as a thing-there are only systems'" (88).

Ecotopians thus emphasize ecological understanding and an essentially spiritual thinking

rooted in, as the critic Jim Dwyer notes, "Native American and pagan cosmology," which

"inspires people to consider themselves intrinsic parts of nature and act accordingly"

("Ecotopia").

Like Ecotopia, Woman on the Edge of Time demonstrates an awareness of

ecological connectedness through describing the children's education. Indeed, that

Mattapoisett's community gardens follow the principles of organic gardening-"tomato

plants growing with rose bushes and onions, pansies and bean plants"-attests to the

ecological conscience of the town's residents (122). In addition, the rite-of-passage for

Mattapoisett's children to become full members of the community involves their

spending one week in the woods by themselves, showing that the ecotopian town views









wilderness as community rather than as commodity. And if a society regards nature as a

part of its community being-enough, in fact, to make the woods central to its adulthood

rituals-then it has developed a clear, symbiotic relationship with the land. On the

contrary, if a society sees the land as a provider of economically valuable and infinite

resources, then it adheres to modern and unsustainable images of nature as commodity.

By making experience in nature a significant part of childhood education, Ecotopia and

Mattapoisett participate in the deep ecological desire to establish ecologically conscious

ways of knowing and ways of interconnected being.

Along with encouraging new perceptions of the natural world and humanity's place

in it, Ecotopia and Woman on the Edge of Time generate further awareness of more

sustainable models of community. Naess sees as an ecological guideline the need to

cultivate life in community. However, for the deep ecologist, as with Leopold,

community ties go beyond mere social interaction. A community, or a total ecological

field, is a life system, even a form of life. And because "The vulnerability of a form of

life is roughly proportional to the weight of influences from afar, from outside the local

region in which that form has obtained an ecological equilibrium," our current social and

economic tendencies to import and export commodities and consumer ways of life

disturb the autonomous character of natural systems-including the system of the self

(Naess, "The Shallow and the Deep" 153). The results are displaced individuals living in

ecosystems destabilized as a result of ecologically disruptive practices. To solve this

problem, Naess advocates "efforts to strengthen local self-government and material and

mental self-sufficiency" (154).









Snyder supports a similar move toward social and ecological autonomy: "Division

by natural and cultural boundaries rather than arbitrary political boundaries" and "land-

use being sensitive to the properties of each region" (147). Such bioregional thought

pervades contemporary environmentalist discussions. Orr believes we must "Use locally

available resources," "Rebuild local and regional economies," and "Rebuild strong,

participatory communities" in order to achieve ecological sustainability (161). On the

subject of pedagogy, Bowers advocates a bioregional curriculum, one which studies "the

plants, animals, soils, sources of water, economic and technological practices, and the

community of memory that encodes the collective wisdom about both past mistakes and

sustainable practices" (175). Collectively, what these environmental thinkers promote is

a worldview that is rooted in the strength of local community dynamics and the lessons of

community and natural history, as well as in adopting life practices specific to local

regions.

As Naess, Snyder, Orr, and Bowers theorize the strengths of community and

bioregional autonomy, so do Callenbach and Piercy speculate on these strengths in their

science fiction narratives. Callenbach does so in three ways. First, all Ecotopian food,

energy, and building materials are locally harvested, and the nature of this practice is

such that local systems remain healthy and foreign systems remain untouched-at least

by Ecotopians. Second, in terms of self, community, and bioregionality, Weston

eventually becomes aware of his disconnectedness from the community and from place.

He writes, "I'm beginning to see that to an Ecotopian, who always has a strong collective

base to return to, a place and the people of thatplace, my existence must seem

pathetically insecure" (138). When Weston writes "I have never cried about it. But









maybe I should," Callenbach issues a compelling request for readers to reevaluate their

own disconnectedness and to envision life in community, with a strong sense of place

(138). Finally, Ecotopia participates in Naess's and Snyder's political calls to

decentralize the operations of local regions. Explaining the nation's move, Weston

writes, "the Ecotopians largely dismantled their national tax and spending system, and

local communities regained control over all basic life systems" (67). The change benefits

Ecotopian life in many ways: communities arrange their lives more deliberately,

population density drops, medical services improve, and previously threatened

ecosystems flourish.

Mattapoisett is also communally and bioregionally oriented, demonstrating the

ecological value of strong community and bioregional networks. Like Ecotopia, the

village is "'Ownfed,"' "'Self-sufficient as possible in proteins'" (64). Further, sense of

place matters to the inhabitants of Mattapoisett. As Jackrabbit, one of the town's

dwellers, says, "'A sense of land, of village and base and family. We're strongly

rooted'" (116). On this point, one might think Mattapoisett is Ecotopia, that had Piercy

given Connie Ramos a journal in which to write her reflections, she would have written

something similar to Weston's lament about feeling displaced. To be sure, Connie does

wish her daughter could grow up in Mattapoisett. And finally, as members of a bioregion

with limited resources, Mattapoisett's inhabitants "see [themselves] as partners with

water, air, birds, fish, trees," a worldview strongly aligned with Leopold's ecological

conscience (118).

A key goal for deep ecologists-the reason for reducing population, slowing

economic growth, adopting spiritual perceptions of connectedness, and thinking in terms









of bioregion-is, to borrow from the sustainable community planners Mathis

Wackemagel and William Rees, to limit humanity's "ecological footprint." Wackernagel

and Rees write, "there is wide agreement that the Earth's ecosystems cannot sustain

current levels of economic and material consumption" (1). Naess and Snyder share this

view. They, along with other deep ecologists, hope to "cultivate an ecological

consciousness" that will reverse the growth and consumer tendencies of Western culture

and thus lessen human influence on the environment (Devall and Sessions ix). Ecotopia

and Woman on the Edge of Time share deep ecological sentiments on dwelling lightly and

contribute intellectually to the deep ecological desire to reduce human impact on the

Earth. Both Ecotopia and Mattapoisett are recycling societies, with the latter composting

and reusing everything-the attitude being that nothing can be thrown away on a round

world. Dwelling lightly in these ecotopias, though, goes beyond recycling and into

profound moral and philosophical principles. What matters most to Ecotopians,

according to Weston, "is the aspiration to live in balance i i/h nature, 'walk lightly on the

land,' treat the earth as a mother" (32). With this moral principle as the core paradigm

of social practice-indeed, in direct challenge to the core paradigm of Western society,

which is to live in opposition to nature-Ecotopians approach living with ecological

balance as their main objective.

Mattapoisett, like Ecotopia, roots itself in practices that inherently challenge

Western modes of existence, of consumption and wastefulness. Critiquing the Cartesian

model of being, Bolivar, a key spokesperson for social opinion in Mattapoisett, states,

"I guess I see the original division of labor, that first dichotomy, as enabling later
divvies into haves and have-nots, powerful and powerless, enjoyers and workers,
rapists and victims. The patriarchal mind/body split turned the body to machine









and the rest of the universe into booty on which the will could run rampant, using,
discarding, destroying." (203)

Here, Bolivar sums up the critical stance of the ecotopian community. Western

models of being, which include the mind/body and human/nature split, have disconnected

humans from the ecology within which we exist. This separation justifies environmental

exploitation, and instead of dwelling lightly we reside unsustainably. As a community

that thinks critically about such fundamental ideas, Mattapoisett initiates a thoroughgoing

revision of Western dichotomies, electing to live in opposition to modern, technocratic

ways and in favor of more sustainable modes of existence.

For all of these reasons, Ecotopia and Woman on the Edge of Time serve the

visions of deep ecology. Individually, each text narrates the revisionary ideas of deep

ecology, and they do so in a utopian manner, always insisting upon the difference

between their respective ecotopian societies and the known Western world. Together,

these texts demonstrate the value of ecotopian science fiction for communicating and

exploring the changes advocated by deep ecologists. It is vital to understand the

contribution of these narratives to the ecological conscience and the cultural push toward

ecological sustainability. This is not to ignore their weaknesses in narrative, in argument,

or in the feasibility of their propositions. Rather, to focus on these ecotopian texts and

the ecological ideas they support is to generate important questions about how we

currently treat the Earth and crucial ideas about how we should treat it.

Deep Ecology and the Dys(eco)topian Visions of John Brunner

While ecotopian fiction occupies an important place in deep ecology, both for its

ecologically conscious visions and for its cultural work, its opposite-dys(eco)topian

fiction-holds similar value. According to Lyman Tower Sargent, a dystopian narrative









describes in detail a non-existent society "normally located in time and space that the

author intended a contemporaneous reader to view as considerably worse than the society

in which the reader lived" (9). Despite its glumness, dystopian narrative maintains the

utopian impulse. As Moylan notes, "a dystopian text can be seen as utopian in tendency

if in its portrayal of the 'bad place' it suggests (even if indirectly) or at least stimulates

the potential for an effective challenge and possibly change by virtue of human efforts"

(Scraps 156). Dystopian works fuel challenges to unethical systems of power and

domination by rendering a society that is not only worse than that in which the reader

lives, but also by portraying a world where the reader might live if steps are not taken to

change these systems.

Texts become dys(eco)topian in the same way that texts become ecotopian-that is,

when the majority of their critiques center on issues vital to ecological health. John

Brunner's Stand on Zanzibar (1968) and The Sheep Look Up (1972) both contain such

elements of environmentalist concern. Stand on Zanzibar focuses on overpopulation and

modern economic doctrine and The Sheep Look Up portrays a world damaged by

Western consumption habits, corporate profiteering, and the absence of deep ecology's

total-field thinking. Brunner's interests are indeed the interests of deep ecology; his

visions of the future are deep ecology's nightmares. My question in this section follows

from the argument of the previous section: If ecotopian fiction informs and reflects deep

ecology by speculating on utopian possibilities through a common ecocritical lens, then

does dystopian fiction inform and reflect deep ecology in its own ways? Certainly, the

worlds of Callenbach and Piercy motivate the ecotopian dream and are thus more

attractive than dystopian fantasies for inspiring change. But dys(eco)topia offers









something ecotopia cannot: extended speculations on the social and ecological states that

deep ecology aims to avoid. Dys(eco)topian texts stage the frightening worlds made

possible by continuing certain present social and economic behaviors; they extrapolate

their futures based on relevant interpretations of the now. Thus, this type of fiction is a

powerful rhetorical tool for stimulating new, more ecologically conscious ways of

thinking and being.

Stand on Zanzibar

Recognizing that Stand on Zanzibar focuses not on "individual agency and linear

narratives of ecological fall and recovery" but instead "on the ways that various power

structures shape and limit cultural attitudes about ecosocial problems," Neal Bukeavich

understands the complexity of Brunner's dys(eco)topian project (54). Bukeavich writes,

"Stand on Zanzibar offers an ecological insight unique to its time: namely, that ecosocial

crises arise from combinations of mutually reinforcing factors, including luxury

consumption, resource exhaustion, and multinational capitalism" (55). Ecotopia and

Woman on the Edge of Time offer similar insights, implicitly critiquing Western society's

anti-ecological habits by envisioning ecotopian alternatives as well as explicitly

contrasting these habits with the alternatives. However, while the ecotopias interrelate

such habits-identifying overpopulation as related to an inadequate economic worldview

stemming from an ideology of human/human and human/nature fracture-their utopian

motivation to imagine better alternatives limits their capacity to explore the political and

cultural dynamics of the ecological problems, like overpopulation, that they want to

avert.

As demonstrated earlier, population reduction is a key interest of both Ecotopia and

Woman on the Edge of Time, as well as of deep ecology. Ecotopians make it a national









goal to decrease population; Mattapoisett controls population scientifically, growing its

future generations in brooders; and deep ecology holds as one of its eight basic principles

that "The flourishing of human life and cultures is compatible with a substantial decrease

of the human population. The flourishing of nonhuman life requires such a decrease"

(Devall and Sessions 70). Stand on Zanzibar's insights into the overpopulation question

soften deep ecology's and ecotopia's strong, if not dogmatic, attention to population

controls by highlighting the growth economy and Western consumption habits as much

more detrimental than overpopulation to ecological health and by drawing attention to the

ethical dilemmas inherent in controlling population. Similar to the ecotopias, Stand on

Zanzibar ultimately addresses the range of issues that concern deep ecologists, from

overpopulation to the ecological pressures brought on by certain social and personal

habits. Only, because it is a dystopia that fleshes out even the problems of utopian

fantasies, Brunner's novel offers the critical counterpoint deep ecology needs in order to

reconsider its position on world population.

Stand on Zanzibar challenges deep ecology's emphasis on population reduction

and encourages critical readers not to deemphasize the global harm of overpopulation but

to recognize Western economic doctrine as a greater threat. Human overcrowding

jeopardizes appropriate life-space requirements for other species but so does the

encroachment of an economic system that liquidates this life-space in the name of profit

and progress. In the novel, General Technics (GT), a multinational corporation, wishes

to transform a small, peaceful, and economically disadvantaged African nation named

Beninia into a market and processing center for its offshore mining project. As

Bukeavich notes, "the Beninian enterprise enacts a kind of economic imperialism that









renders it unlikely to initiate any revolutionary shift in global environmental politics"

(59). This brand of corporate interest demonstrates the economy that deep ecology

targets: elite nations pushing "third world" countries to participate in their market

interests and fantasies of a global consumer society while erasing any chance of

developing alternative economic structures that are more environmentally sustainable. It

is such an economy and the culture it supports, not overpopulation in itself, that wreaks

the ecological havoc; and this insight is the specific contribution of Stand on Zanzibar to

deep ecology's population dialogue. When the novel's narrator writes, "The size of

planet Earth was .. large enough, so far. Beninia was pitted and pendulumed, and the

walls were closing in," he acknowledges a linkage between natural limits and the

mythology of nature's bounty that informs the growth economy (12). With the initiation

of GT's scheme, Beninia will be swept into an economic system that not only gobbles up

existing social relations-and in Beninia's case, peaceful social relations-but also

exhausts nonhuman nature. For, nowhere in GT's plan is there a discussion of

developing an economy that will lift Beninia out of poverty without sacrificing its already

limited resource base.

Throughout Stand on Zanzibar, Brunner gives readers fragments of the consumer

culture that economic projects such as General Technic's Beninia plan encourage. It is a

culture deep ecology would find harrowing in contrast to ecotopian images of strong

local communities and ecologically sustainable ways of living. Certainly, it is the kind of

negative culture against which Ecotopia and Mattapoisett define themselves; only, as a

dystopia, Brunner's work fully explores this culture. Community as a dynamic collection

of participating individuals with unique senses of self and place does not exist in the mass









culture of Stand on Zanzibar. Instead, the corporate state deforms social interaction and

individual uniqueness, gratifying capitalist fantasies of a culture unified in its

consumption habits. Images of Mr. and Mrs. Everywhere-"construct identities, the new

century's equivalent of the Joneses"-fill TV screens sold by the media giant Engrelay

Satelserv, allowing viewers to see themselves in a variety of more desirable places (Stand

9). And a "Colliderscope" "turns your drab daily environment into a marvelous mystery"

(172). These simulation technologies demonstrate a point made in the novel by Chad

Mulligan, one of the characters who is critical of the society: "'the whole of modem so-

called civilized existence is an attempt to deny reality insofar as it exists'" (251). Here,

the reality denied is a present terrible reality made possible by the hegemony's ignorance

of the environmental and social consequences of its actions.

Purposefully blind to the richness of difference, the corporate state promotes

cultural and individual homogeneity. Song lyrics in Brunner's novel show this:

Like the good Lord God in the Valley of Bones
Engrelay Satelserv made some people called Jones.
They were not alive and they were not dead-
They were ee-magi-nary but always ahead.
What was remarkably and uniquely new-
A gadget on the set made them look like you!
Watching their sets in a kind of a trance
Were people in Mexico, people in France.
They don't chase Jones but the dreams are the same-
Mr. and Mrs. Everywhere, that's the right name!
Herr und Frau Uberall or les Partout,
A gadget on the set makes them look like you. (309)

Mr. and Mrs. Everywhere provide the culture of Stand on Zanzibar with the type of co-

opted utopian experience Moylan discusses, a Disney-esque escape to the Moon, Mount

Everest, or Martinique, all freed of social and environmental interaction (Brunner, Stand

309). For Moylan, in the mid-twentieth century, utopian visions-originally articulations









opposing "the affirmative culture maintained by dominant ideology"-dissolved into the

corporate-driven utopias of shopping malls and the Disney empire (Demand 1). Driven

by capital, utopia weakened into visions of "pleasurable weekends, Christmas dreams,

and goods purchased weekly in the pleasure-dome shopping malls of suburbia," all

visions compatible with growth-centered, capitalist ideology (8). In Brunner's novel,

under the hegemony of this corporate media complex, political difference is nullified as

people tune in to mass opinion.

The simulated experience of people and place is only one nightmare scenario for

deep ecology, a nightmare that has become all too real in contemporary society. Another

has to do with the absence of wilderness in the dystopian world. As simulated culture has

replaced genuine social relations in Brunner's dystopia, simulated nature has replaced the

natural world. Synthetic grass carpets General Technics headquarters, and a clinic in

London has a floor "covered by tiles with a design of dead leaves embedded under a clear

plastic surface" (158). Ironically, this "only touch in the place which suggested nature" is

trampled, "a failure," the leaves disappearing "behind a mist of scratches and scrapes, the

legacy of uncountable feet that had crossed the room" (159). Given that this clinic is one

pregnant women must visit to be eugenically tested, the results dictating whether they

must abort, the trampled floor symbolizes both population pressure and the ecological

harm such pressure induces.

Stand on Zanzibar does not treat the human/nature disconnect and the loss of

wilderness only symbolically. Whales are extinct and Manhattan is under a dome; a

character reflects on "when he last saw the stars" and "got wet in the rain" (262); a

cosmetics manufacturer brags, "'we have taken control of our entire environment, and









what we choose by way of fashion and cosmetics matches that achievement'" (60).

Indeed, Brunner's novel presents a postnatural world, McKibben's "end of nature" in

which the Western way of life "now blows its smoke over every inch of the globe" (60).

McKibben, like Brunner, sees modern economic doctrine as the biggest threat to ecology.

"There is no place on the planet now," says McKibben, "that does not fall under the

enchantment of our images of the good life" (xxii). The "good life" is a life of

consumption, and ultimately the life that makes overpopulation a serious threat.

Stand on Zanzibar considers the growth economy and Western consumer culture to

be the most detrimental pressures to global ecological and social health, and it makes this

claim stronger by emphasizing population control as a directive far more unethical to

institute than changing economic policy and personal habits. The ecotopias that narrate

the concerns of deep ecology treat overpopulation and excessive production and

consumption as equally solvable problems, but Brunner's work argues otherwise. Stand

on Zanzibar treats population control as an ethical quandary. Alongside the consumer

ideology broadcasted globally in Brunner's dystopia is a praise of eugenic legislation. A

"Greater New York Times editorial slot" hails Puerto Rico for cracking down on

population growth and "for joining the majority of us who have seen the danger [of

overpopulation] coming and resolved to put up with the minor inconveniences it entails

when we decide to control the human elements of the big scene we inhabit" (15-16).

Such minor inconveniences include a cultural stigma on excessive fertility, mandatory

abortion, and other top-down methods of enforcing obedience to government-mandated

controls.









Oddly, governments in Stand on Zanzibar work to cut population growth while

allowing economic growth to continue unchecked. Stand on Zanzibar does not discount

the importance of a declining population for social and ecological health, but it does

imagine the danger of treating overpopulation and Western economic doctrine as equally

accountable for environmental crisis. Given the hegemony of an economic system that

lacks a financial incentive to critique and change itself, popular attention to global social

and ecological collapse-an attention driven by this economy's media complex-will

turn toward overpopulation as the primary ecological threat, thus absolving the capitalist

economy from its environmentally hazardous global expansion.

The Sheep Look Up

If Stand on Zanzibar is Brunner's indictment of the growth economy and consumer

ideology as sources of ecological and social peril, then The Sheep Look Up is his most

thorough exploration of the pervasiveness and effect of this ideology. As in Stand on

Zanzibar, The Sheep Look Up imagines a world in which Western ideas about economic

growth, mass consumption, and the human/nature disconnect play out as far as the power

structure wishes, despite environmental and social injustices. But while Stand on

Zanzibar makes a concerted effort to upset the myth that human overpopulation is as

responsible for ecological and social breakdown as Western economic doctrine, The

Sheep Look Up is less concerned with overpopulation and instead surveys what is

harmful in modern social, economic, and philosophical paradigms. It expresses concerns

about loss of community, the effects of unchecked economic growth, and the ignorance

in modern society of ecological thinking, as it also explores contrasting strategies for

environmentalist action.









The Sheep Look Up details the effects of a United States military hallucinogen

leakage. Countries whose citizens consume a synthetic food produced in the area of the

leak have mass rioting. The military's cover up of the chemical spill is one of several

attempts by the US government and the corporations it supports to ignore their roles in

bringing on ecological disaster. Pesticide-resistant worms decimate crops worldwide,

and nearly all Americans suffer from ailments caused by environmental contaminants.

Fighting to expose the military, the government, and corporations, environmentalist and

cult figure Austin Train condemns the emerging violent environmentalist radicalism and

divulges the misdeeds of the higher powers. For the latter, Train is labeled subversive by

the right-wing US president, Prexy. Falsely accused of kidnapping the son of Roland

Bamberley-an opportunist businessman whose company manufactures water filters and

whose brother, Jacob, manufactured the poisoned food-Train is put on trial publicly and

uses the opportunity to address his viewing audience with a plea: "'at all costs, to me, to

anyone, at all costs if the human race is to survive, the forcible exportation of the way of

life invented by these stupid men must... be ... stopped"' (353). Shortly after this

declaration, Prexy orders Train to be cut off, and the courthouse crumbles from a bomb

built by one of the real kidnappers. The novel ends in a fury of American civil disorder,

chaos one character claims fulfills his computer-generated forecast of "the best thing we

can do to ensure a long, happy, healthy future for mankind" (363). "We can just about

restore the balance of the ecology, the biosphere, and so on-in other words, we can live

within our means instead of on an unrepayable overdraft, as we've been doing for the

past half century," says Dr. Thomas Grey, "if we exterminate the two hundred million

most extravagant and wasteful of our species" (363).









The Sheep Look Up contributes to the philosophy of deep ecology. Implicitly

through its dystopian rhetorical strategy and explicitly through Austin Train, it offers

ecocentric critiques of a range of Western ideologies and practices. One of its key

critiques is of the type of thinking that declares the inferiority of the nonhuman world to

humans. The novel opens with a poem that announces,

The day shall dawn when never child but may
Go forth upon the sward secure to play.
No cruel wolves shall trespass in their nooks,
Their lore of lions shall come from picture-books. (2)

The domestication of wilderness celebrated here is an uncritical utopian ideal imagined

and put into practice historically in Western culture.

Domesticating nature for human purposes is a characteristic of the modern ideology

Brunner and deep ecology challenge.3 It is rooted in Christian conceptions of wild nature

as evil to be conquered as well as in later ideas of taming wilderness for material

progress. This is the same ideology that Callenbach and Piercy imagine overcoming with

new economic and spiritual models. Against such an ideology of human supremacy,

deep ecology encourages a knowledge of and a respect for natural biodiversity. In The

Sheep Look Up, Austin Train calls himself a "commensalist," building his

environmentalist philosophy on the idea that "you and your dog, and the flea on the dog's

back, and the cow and the horse and the jackrabbit and the gopher and the nematode and

the paramecium and the spirohete all sit down to the same table in the end" (18-19).

Such a philosophy challenges the human/nature hierarchy on which are based

anthropocentric visions of taming and developing wilderness.


3 For a discussion of the origins of taming wilderness as a Western ideology see Nash.









After the celebratory poem of human arrogance that begins his novel, Brunner

introduces a scene critical of the anti-wilderness vision on which the poem rejoices. In a

dislocating incident that would initially reinforce the fear of carnivorous nature in any

reader of the novel's opening poem, a man finds himself hunted by wild animals "In

broad daylight on the Santa Monica freeway" (3). Petrified, and with "monstrous

menacing beasts edging closer," the man hides from cougars, jaguars, cobras, falcons,

and barracudas-the beasts that the writer of the opening poem wishes to relegate to

children's fairy tales (3). Trying to run, the man is killed by a stingray. Is this a scene of

some science fictional, fantastical California now taken over by the savage creatures the

poem demonizes? No. The beasts are merely names of cars; the predation often

associated with wild nature is given a different look, an ecocritical reevaluation

demonstrating that industrial society, not wilderness, is the threat to life. With the

counterpoint between the introductory poem and the ensuing scene of industrial carnage,

Brunner introduces early in the novel the dynamic between the Western industrial system

and the voices of dissent against this system that gives his dys(eco)topia its rhetorical

power.

The Sheep Look Up links global ecological disaster to Western habits that have

grown from a philosophy of man as conqueror, to borrow Leopold's concept, instead of

man as biotic citizen. Though this ignorance of ecological connections enables industrial

"progress" in Brunner's novel, it ultimately, as Brunner shows, disables ecological

systems and creates an atmosphere conducive only to corporate profiteering. Lead,

chemical byproducts of various industries, and DDT have created the poisoned world

imagined by Rachel Carson in Silent Spring. As a result, clean oxygen, water, and









filtermasks are commodities in The Sheep Look Up, purchased from vending machines.

And a food producer, Puritan Foods, uses the public's growing fear of pollution to market

falsely its brand of "uncontaminated" food. The unchallenged corporate state in The

Sheep Look Up-due not to a lack of dissenters but to government efforts to repress

opposition-exposes an odd capitalist dynamic: the omnipresent (ill)logic of capitalism

permits big industry to profit from its own poor environmental record, but in no way are

the resulting clean-up industries altering their profit motive and developing an

ecologically conscious economy, despite the obvious necessity to do so. As one

character states, "'they shit in the water until it's dangerous to drink, then make a fucking

fortune out of selling us gadgets to purify it again'" (187).

Similar to Stand on Zanzibar, the corporate offices in The Sheep Look Up boast of

man's containment of nature: "cosmoramic projections," simulated views of the outside

world "Superior to the natural article," "prevent the intrusion of untasteful exterior

reality" (133). Again, this exterior reality represents McKibben's postnatural world at its

dystopian extreme, demonstrating deep ecology's fear of the effects of human dominion

and economic imposition on ecology and its anxieties over loss of life. Deep ecology

recognizes intimate, spiritual connections between all forms of life, connections that

allow for self-realization among all species. Callenbach's Ecotopia and Piercy's

Mattapoisett strive to nurture these connections. Fields and natural gardens serve as

places for reflection and identity building. In Brunner's world, however, exterior space is

poisoned, lifeless but for "rodent" species whose extreme populations are due to the loss

of biodiversity. A child in Brunner's novel cuts her foot while playing in an old garbage









dump; a woman dies from exposure to pollutants at the beach. In such an atmosphere,

fostering a human-nature connection and an ecological conscience becomes improbable.

Influenced by Austin Train, the "Trainites" of The Sheep Look Up mount a genuine

attack on Western philosophic and economic paradigms. A loosely organized group

manifesting itself shortly after Vietnam "as the result of some telepathic trigger,"

Trainites live out a number of environmentally sustainable practices in small collectives

called wats (77). As if taking a cue from deep ecologists Arne Naess and Gary Snyder,

Decimus-the man killed in the opening scene-is a Trainite who promoted, as Naess

would say, a "global solidarity of lifestyle" ("Deep Ecology and Lifestyle" 260): "His

principle, at the Colorado wat, was third-world oriented; his community grew its own

food, or tried to-crops had a nasty habit of failing because of wind-borne defoliants or

industrial contaminants in the rain-and likewise wove its own cloth, while its chief

source of income lay in handicrafts" (.\lhep 34). The presence of Trainite wats gives

Brunner's novel a utopian quality. Wats are Brunner's Ecotopias or Mattapoisetts, spaces

apparently insulated from what is "Out There," from "death and destruction" and "poison

in the rain," as one character thinks (171). But what makes The Sheep Look Up differ

from Ecotopia and Woman on the Edge of Time-what makes the wats objects of a

dys(eco)topian narrative rather than places of ecotopian hope-is that at the moment of

optimism the Out There breaks through the insulation and intrudes upon utopian space.

Despite the Trainite ecological conscience and foresight, the wats cannot keep acid rain at

bay, nor can they prevent the intrusion of a crop-threatening worm imported into the

United States by a careless corporation.









Brunner uses the wats to insist on the potential for utopian spaces and utopian

ideals to elicit cultural work in the world outside of those spaces. His exploration into

this potential is not simplistic and unidirectional, though. Instead, The Sheep Look Up

speculates on contrasting ways environmentalist, "Trainite" opposition-influenced in

different ways by ecotopian social dreaming-can manifest itself in mainstream culture.

The first of these narratives shows the journalist Peg Mankiewicz becoming discouraged

with the polluted and corrupt state of modern life. Her extended investigation of

Decimus's death draws the ire of her editor, Mel Torrence, who is hostile to the Trainites.

Mel views Trainite resistance, the most violent of which Mel carelessly and wrongly

associates with Train's followers, as a "'nuisance'" (92). As Mel states, "'They block

traffic, they foul up business, they commit sabotage, they've even gone as far as

murder-'" (92). Seeing the merit in such dissent, the falsity of Mel's allegations of

murder, and the fact that the real killers "'are the people who are mining the world to line

their pockets,'" Peg quits the newspaper and heads to the Colorado wat (93). Encouraged

by the undemanding and harmonious way of life at the wat, but ultimately dissatisfied

with its people's lack of civic engagement with the world Out There, Peg leaves to carry

on the fight started by Austin and Decimus. The Colorado wat is indeed an ecotopian

space, but for Peg, such a space is not enough in a world in need of change. In the end,

she channels her energies into critical writing, researching and revealing the effects of

rich nations on poorer nations. With such exposures, she hopes to bring about change.

While Peg's story is one in which an individual draws inspiration from an

ecotopian ideology and moves into the world to institute positive change through

journalism, the second narrative that demonstrates the real potential of ecotopia is









different. Like Peg, Hugh Pettingill becomes disgruntled with the state of society.

Speaking out against his adoptive father Jacob Bamberley, Hugh voices the anger of

many in the novel:

"Because of you and people like you we sit here in the richest country in the world
surrounded by sick kids-[. .] You and your ancestors treated the world like a
fucking great toilet bowl. You shat in it and boasted about the mess you'd made.
And now it's full and overflowing, and you're fat and happy and black kids are
going crazy to keep you rich. Goodbye!" (112)

Hugh also flees to the Colorado wat, but instead of seeing the aggressive activism he

associates with Trainites, he witnesses a community "rehearsing for tomorrow, devising a

viable lifestyle by trial and error" (148). But Hugh wants action now, pistols and bombs

(149). He leaves the wat and joins a small group of activists who employ the violent

resistance he desires, including kidnapping Roland Bamberley's son Hector and

demanding for ransom that Roland freely distribute twenty-thousand water filters to

citizens.

The wats in The Sheep Look Up thus symbolize ecotopian intellectual space,

space similar to what deep ecology creates in its ecotopian dreaming. Peg and Hugh

admire the ideals of the wat; they are both seeking alternative lifestyles that move away

from the dystopian state. However, both desire to transform dystopia. Peg's tactic is

disclosure, getting information Out There and hoping for change by educating people.

Hugh's tactic is direct action, physically confronting those who have made modern life

unsustainable. Neither of these approaches are "shallow," in Naess's sense of that word.

Nor do they prefigure 1980s third-wave environmentalism, which, according to Bill

Devall, "was based on the principle that environmental experts, usually lawyers and

scientists, could and should negotiate directly with corporations and government agencies

to achieve compromises on pollution controls, energy policies, and other environmental