People tend to read what they see and let’s be honest, our future as a species is not looking particularly good – but maybe part of that is because we think there’s no hope.
Social media and the news hardly show the positive actions that are happening to curb climate change; all we see are the more and more daunting projections, the newly endorsed fracking projects — I’m looking at you Joe Biden – but we rarely see any wins. And that’s the same within books.
When was the last time you read a book that showcased a positive depiction of what this planet may look like in a few years? I don’t think I ever have.
Maybe I’m just reading too much dystopian fiction, but I’m a big sci-fi buff in general and most of the books that mention Earth describe it as either the derelict human home planet, or the dying rock where the poorest of humanity are left behind.
Is this the type of future we want to be endorsing? The type of outlook we want younger readers to accept?
It’s no secret that what you read can have an impact on the way you think. Words are powerful – ‘sticks and stones’ and all of that. Words are an author’s weapon; it’s the way they can make change where otherwise impossible in this world. And in the case of our planet, shouldn’t authors be promoting what could be?
E.L . Doctorow – “Story is metaphor for life, and life is lived in time.”
[met • a • phor •]
- A thing regarded as representative or symbolic of something else
- A figure of speech in which a word or phrase is applied to an object or action to which it is not literally applicable.
By E.L. Doctorow’s definition, a story is a representative of life, and therefore, these constant depictions of the planet’s disastrous future are a representation of life — which, of course, it is meant to be, but does it have to be?
But the fault doesn’t fall onto the authors alone. What sells is what we want to read, so maybe it’s time to address the established obsession with the world dying amongst us readers.
Maybe we’re victims of tradition (humans are creatures of habit after all) but we can break bad habits, so perhaps, we should try breaking this one.
If not for us, then for the world we live in and the generations to come.
If you liked this post then read Can Cli-Fi save the world? or Think piece: is discrimination necessary for works of fiction? next.
Liseli is a journalism student with a costly love for travelling and new books. She loves a good solo adventure but when she can’t be jetting off to a new destination, the next best thing for her is discovering new places through books. And if she’s not reading a book, she’s looking for her next read. Liseli is passionate about how our identities are represented within literature today.
Favourite genres: Romance and Sci-Fi.