Listening to Lydia Millet talk about her latest novel How the Dead Dream makes me both sad and hopeful. Sad because what she says is true–we’re destroying the planet, we’re practicing a sometimes unintentional genocide against hundreds and hundreds of species–and in the process, although many of us don’t realize this, against ourselves.
Hopeful because I’m glad fiction writers are dealing with these issues in a personal and contemporary way. What perhaps bothers me a little bit is that writers not associated with SF/F are doing more in this regard (the Stone Gods novel by Winterson is another example, in a totally different tone), while the majority of what I’ve read in SF/F in the last couple of years is, in fact, escapist–it is dead set on ignoring, denying, or simply pretending that what’s going on around us is not in fact going on. I’ve loved a lot of this SF/F, to be honest, and it’s been a solace, a way literally of getting away from the thought in my head that we’re witnessing a kind of slow end of the world. I don’t mind that, but it doesn’t make me, as a reader not a writer, comforted in a more general way, because I feel like I’m being lied to.
Another, odd but true thought, that has occurred to me in recent weeks: That when we watch movies from now and the past in, say, thirty years, we will literally be seeing backdrops, seeing animals, that don’t exist anymore. Movies and other media will be repositories of what we’ve lost. In our lifetime.