The Role Of Science Fiction In Imparting Eco-Consciousness

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Abstract

Today the people all over the world are affected by the far-reaching results of the catastrophic environmental crisis. Global warming due to ozone depletion is the major factor behind the drastic climate changes and the rising of sea level. Irrespective of the branch of knowledge, everyone is aware of the terrible environmental issues and discussing about the various ways through which they can do something to tackle this problem even up to some extent. The social responsibility of the writers compels them to write about this compelling issue. As one of the most influencing medium, popular fiction especially, Science Fiction is having a big role to play. Science Fiction gives ample scope to visualize the far and wide consequences in scientific details. It can also be used to initiate awareness among the target readers, especially the young adults and make them think about possible practical steps they can be taken. The current paper tries to bring home the role of science fiction in imparting eco-consciousness through a typical science fiction – Paolo Bacigalupi’s “The Windup Girl”.

Key-Words:

Science Fiction (SF, Sci-Fi), eco-consciousness, bio-terrorism, environmental issues etc.

The scientific innovations and technological advancements have brought in revolutionary changes in the mindset and milieu of a generation. At the same time, the profit-oriented deeds of the society has conveniently overlooked how far all these progressive tendencies affect Mother Nature. Introspection towards cultivating a nature-friendly life style becomes the need of the hour. Here lies the actual involvement of Science Fictions in bringing about a favourable attitudinal change towards environmental protection.

Science Fiction is a popular genre of literature and a nifty medium to initiate eco-consciousness especially among young adults. A number of SF books appearing every year and several science fiction movies got special attention. From Mary Shelley’s “Frankenstein”, Aldous Huxley’s “Brave New World”, George Orwell’s “Nineteen Eighty-Four”, H.G. Well’s “Time Machine” and all, the long list goes on with the clearly visible post-human tendencies.

Science fiction (abbreviated SF or sci-fi with varying punctuation and capitalization) is a broad genre of fiction that often involves speculations based on current or future science or technology. Science fiction is found in books, art, television, films, games, theatre, and other media. In organizational or marketing contexts, science fiction can be synonymous with the broader definition of speculative fiction, encompassing creative works incorporating imaginative elements not found in contemporary reality; this includes fantasy, horror and related genres. Although the two genres are often conflated as science fiction/fantasy, science fiction differs from fantasy in that, within the context of the story, its imaginary elements are largely possible within scientifically established or scientifically postulated laws of nature (though some elements in a story might still be pure imaginative speculation). Exploring the consequences of such differences is the traditional purpose of science fiction, making it a ‘literature of ideas’. Science fantasy is largely based on writing entertainingly and rationally about alternate possibilities in settings that are contrary to known reality. (From https://www.goodreads.com/genres/science-fiction)

Undoubtedly, science fiction also wide opens possibilities to think and do something about preserving nature and natural resources. Due to its popularity and the facts beneath the fictitious world it creates, science fiction is capable of reaching out towards a wider audience and to initiate active participation towards greening the earth and to minimalize hazardous pollution and the use of natural resources. Science fiction gives a clear picture of the futuristic world in which the people are affected by the consequences of the disregard for nature. It may appear as man-made natural calamities and makes the readers think about the impending catastrophic future and also initiates re-thinking and educates necessary actions to be taken in order to sustain nature.

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Among several other works of literature, American writer Paolo Bacigalupi’s debut novel “The Windup Girl” is such a science fiction with the scope of disseminating eco-consciousness. The novel is set in 23rd century Thailand. While the futuristic world is much prosperous with technological advancements and scientific progress and especially bio-technology, the world is affected by global warming and rise of sea-levels, depletion of natural energy sources and all. At the same time the mega-corporates who are making their profit out of non-ethical and profit-oriented deeds.

Thailand is affected by disastrous global warming and its capital is now under the threat of devouring floods and they used to pump out the flood water in order to sustain. Unlike other nations at that time, they have a supply of genetically viable seed stock which is being preserved under tight security and with the help of some monks by the environmental ministry. The country is now under a child queen and the real ruling power resets with the regent to the queen and also with two opposing forces within the parliament viz. the environmental ministry in support of preserving nature and natural energy resources and the corrupted trade ministry concerned only with money-motif.

The world’s natural energy resources are now worn-out and the nations depend upon the mega-corporates for their energy needs. The food production based on the indigenous crops has long diminished from the agricultural scene and the people and the countries now depend upon mega-corporates for out sourcing seeds by which they can cultivate their food crops. So the profit goes only towards a few giants who control the market-economy. Megacorporations like AgriGen, PurCal and RedStar (called calorie companies) control food production through ‘genehacked’ seeds, and use bioterrorism, private armies and economic hitmen to create markets for their products. Frequent catastrophes, such as deadly and widespread plagues and illness, caused by genetically modified crops and mutant pests, ravage entire populations. The natural genetic seed stock of the world’s plants has been almost completely supplanted by those that are genetically engineered to be sterile. Thailand is an exception. It maintains its own reserve of genetically viable seeds, fights off engineered plagues and other bioterrorism, and keeps its borders firmly closed against the calorie companies and other foreign biological imports.(From https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Windup_Girl).

Anderson Lake who owns the AgriGen Corporation that researches for the brand new ‘kink-spring’ which can produce gigajoules of energy without an internal combustion engine whose actual mission is to recognize the natural seed stock of Thailand by using Emiko, a genetically modified illegal Japanese girl. AgriGen is run by Hock Seng who in turn, plots to steal the kink-spring design. Anderson informs Emiko that there are a group of “New People” refuge in North Thailand

Jaidee, was a zealous captain of the white shirts, concerning the environmental ministry’s wing to curb illegal imports, unauthorized energy use and to fight against the genetically engineered viruses. The trading community rewarded his sincerity with series of torturing experiences and at last murdered him. Meanwhile, there spreads an endemic new plague among the workers of the king-spring factory and both Hock Seng, the manager and Anderson, the owner of the company flees in to hiding. Kanya, the substitute of Jaidee for the Environmental Ministry discovers the plague and sought adequate support from their scientists at the Thai seed bank. But it was revealed that they are only the assistants to the AgriGen Corporation and Anderson as well.

Anderson’s ever-increasing influence over the ruling power of Thailand and even repelled the white shirts and lowered trade barriers and given access to Thai seed bank. Emiko is being used as an offering to perpetuate Anderson’s motifs. The much humiliated Emiko assassins those impostures who degraded her. A civil war was boke put with in the country. Being disappointed by getting the secret behind kink-spring, Hock Seng tries to capture Emiko for ransom. But Anderson makes a deal with him. He gives away the patronage of AgriGen to Hock Seng but keeps Emiko with him.

Those who stood for protecting nature and fight against the illegal trade relations got terrific end. The men in power are all the stakeholders of calorie companies now. Kanya, a spy and confidante of their home minister, was appointed as the new chief to the Environmental ministry. While she was accompanying the corporates to the Thai seed bank, as a sudden revolution of conscience and patriotism, executes the AgriGen team and directs the monks to move the seeds towards a secure location. She then, initiates another uprising and destroys their capital Bangkok with flood while the resident people were sent to another secure place. Realizing the failure to protect the capital, the home minister becomes a monk. Anderson dies of the plague, actually spread by him. Emiko was found out by a scientist who promises her to develop a new race of fertile people – “New People”, materializing her dream of living with her own kind of society.

In fact, “The Windup Girl” helps the readers understand the hazardous state of affairs and man-made catastrophes which are ultimately fuelled by the greed of man. The entire humanity is being victimized under the terrorizing effects of the economic subjugation perpetuated by the corporates giants. The fiction also initiates the readers to do their lot in a more eco-friendly way.

Works Cited

  1. Bacigalupi, Paolo. The Windup Girl. San Francisco: Night Shade Books, 2009. Print.
  2. Pippa,Marland, “Ecocriticism.”Literature Compass10.11,pp.864-868.John Wiley & Sons,2013.
  3. Literary Theory: An Anthology, Third Edition. Editted by Julie Rivkin and Michael Ryan. John Wiley & Sons, 2013.
  4. http://criticalposthumanism.net/science-fiction/https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Windup_Girlhttp://bestfantasybooks.com/blog/review-of-the-windup-girl-by-paolo-bacigalupi/https://www.thebooksmugglers.com/2010/03/steampunk-week-book-review-the-windup-girl-by-paolo-bacigalupi.htmlhttps://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/091e/e61984ff4224371794b17ee6545cd53c3c18.pdf
  5. http://strangehorizons.com/non-fiction/reviews/the-windup-girl-by-paolo-bacigalupi/https://www.123helpme.com/environmental-text-paolo-bacigalupis-the-windup-girl-preview.asp?id=281557

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The Role Of Science Fiction In Imparting Eco-Consciousness. (2022, March 18). Edubirdie. Retrieved May 23, 2022, from https://edubirdie.com/examples/the-role-of-science-fiction-in-imparting-eco-consciousness/
“The Role Of Science Fiction In Imparting Eco-Consciousness.” Edubirdie, 18 Mar. 2022, edubirdie.com/examples/the-role-of-science-fiction-in-imparting-eco-consciousness/
The Role Of Science Fiction In Imparting Eco-Consciousness. [online]. Available at: <https://edubirdie.com/examples/the-role-of-science-fiction-in-imparting-eco-consciousness/> [Accessed 23 May 2022].
The Role Of Science Fiction In Imparting Eco-Consciousness [Internet]. Edubirdie. 2022 Mar 18 [cited 2022 May 23]. Available from: https://edubirdie.com/examples/the-role-of-science-fiction-in-imparting-eco-consciousness/
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