I have had a book stuck in my head for months. I’ve read the book before, at least once. but the more I dig into what exactly I want this blog to become, the more strongly I knew that it was time to re-read it. Unfortunately, my well-loved copy was in a box in my sister’s California basement, 1,200 miles away. At least it was until holiday visiting time. Now that book is sitting on the table beside me, bookmarked 155 pages in. Pages read on yesterday’s return flight home. That book is The City, Not Long After by Pat Murphy.
When Danny-Boy was eight years old, he learned that art could change the world.
If Gene Wilder crooning Pure Imagination is the Apocalypse Garden’s theme song, then that line is its mantra. Art can change the world. In my world, art begins with story, and Pat’s is filled with magic and beauty, despite loss and fear and threat. Sure, it may not teach us how to build a crossbow, but it gives us survival skills just as important: community building and creativity, two traits that can serve us all well, be it the end of days, or everyday.
Dreaming the future, imagining the past, that’s what writers do. And apocalypse stories? They’ve been penned since early recorded history. Gilgamesh, Noah and his ark, the Dharmasastra. But what about science fiction, which has become a sort of parent category for modern-day apocalypse fiction?
According to a recent article on BBC’s iWonder:
Science fiction emerged nearly 300 years ago during a time of great advances in science. Since then authors have tried to make sense of their world by imagining what the future will look like.
Post-apocalyptic societies, alien invasions, robots and environmental catastrophes have all played out in this genre which is still popular today.
Dr. Caroline Edwards, “Writing the Future,” BBC.co.uk
The first example cited? Gulliver’s Travels, written in 1726 by Jonathan Swift, which includes a section feature a flying island populated by scientists.
The complete list features 20 sci-fi luminaries including three of my favorite: Ursula K. Le Guin, Octavia Butler, and Margaret Atwood. The Left Hand of Darkness. The Parable of the Sower. The Handmaid’s Tale. It’s not just a history lesson, it’s a kick-ass reading list.
It seems that since Ebola has reached American soil, each day has become increasingly haunted by one question: How do we fight this terrifying foe?
And by books, I mean knowledge. Real information. Hearsay and hysteria will get us nowhere but lost.
This past week, Cuba sent the first 165 of 461 healthcare workers to Sierra Leone, making them the single largest force against Ebola in west Africa.
It’s natural that people care more about what’s happening closer to their lives and realities. But I also think we all have a responsibility to not view what is not our immediate problem as a lesser problem. The fact that thousands of deaths in Africa are treated as a statistic, and that one or two patients inside our borders are reported in all their individual pain, should be cause for reflection.
Artist André Carrilho
Read more about Cuba’s long-stading history of providing disaster assistance and the artist’s controversial visual commentary on the Ebola crisis.
During last month’s UN Climate Summit, an important connection was drawn between climate change and human health.
It is critical to understand that climate change has both immediate and future consequences for human health. Already today we are seeing threats to health that range from waterborne diseases in degraded, polluted watersheds to the emergence of novel diseases transmitted from wildlife. Grave future threats include changes in temperature and rainfall patterns that can result in the spread of diseases, such as malaria, dengue, and West Nile virus, to higher latitudes and shifting altitudes. And rising CO2 concentrations in the atmosphere may cause substantial declines in the nutritional content of key crops.
Judith Rodin, President, The Rockefeller Foundation
Acknowledgement of this link between the planet and our individual health may finally be the push global leaders need to raise the priority of climate change and related issues. Read more at Time.com: Climate Action is a Health Priority.