Guest blogger Felix Gilman is the author of the novels Thunderer and Gears of the City, and A History of the Half-Made World, coming next year from Tor.
Dying Earth, you say? I got yer Dying Earth right here.
These photographs of albatross chicks were made just a few weeks ago on Midway Atoll, a tiny stretch of sand and coral near the middle of the North Pacific. The nesting babies are fed bellies-full of plastic by their parents, who soar out over the vast polluted ocean collecting what looks to them like food to bring back to their young. . . These images depict the actual stomach contents of baby birds in one of the world’s most remote marine sanctuaries, more than 2000 miles from the nearest continent.
Photographs here.Â Â Warning: gross, and unbearably sad.
Apart from the unbearable sadness, what struck me about these things is how reminiscent they are of Mike Libby’s steampunk insectsÂ (which may be familiar to you from the cover of Ann and Jeff’s New Weird anthology).Â Â Like nightmare inversions of Libby’s creations: ugly plastic trash instead of glittering elegant clockwork. Except of course that these things are the things that are actually real, not Libby’s. So it goes.
Thesis: the big appeal of steampunk is that it puts an attractive shiny brass-toned gloss on the increasingly inescapable fact that our bodies and our world are being replaced, inside and out, by non-functional obsolete industrial byproducts.