Thursday 5 March 2009

stays in the mind

There's a big overlap between environmentalism and science fiction: both are fascinated by projecting scenarios, tracking consequences, and pinpointing the moment of 'what-if'.

The BBC's current Science-Fiction series has included adaptations of H.G. Wells's The Time Machine (left), which was partly inspired by Darwin's Origin of Species; J. G. Ballard's The Drowned World, which is about London becoming a swamp as global warming melts the ice caps; and John Christopher's Death of Grass, in which a deadly virus attacks all the grass in the world.

In He Knew He Was Right, John and Mary Gribbin's new biography of James Lovelock, the authors note Lovelock's boyhood passion for science fiction. They write that Lovelock considered that:

'It was H.G. Wells who invented real science fiction, and he particularly remembers the impression made by The Time Machine, with its apocalyptic vision of a scorched future Earth - almost a scientific prediction of the actual fate of the Earth when the Sun swells to become a Red Giant star, and the warming overwhelms the mechanisms of Gaia.'

Lovelock says: 'That really stayed in my mind.'

(More on The Death of Grass from William Shaw here and from Andrew Curry here.)

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