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Future Primitive: The New Ecotopias
edited by Kim Stanley Robinson
Tor Books, 352 pages

Future Primitive
Kim Stanley Robinson
Kim Stanley Robinson has travelled and worked in different parts of the world (including Washington, DC and in Switzerland with his wife, Lisa, an environmental chemist). His work has garnered many awards including the Nebula Award ("The Blind Geometer" and Red Mars), the Asimov, John W.Campbell, Locus and World Fantasy Awards ("Black Air") and the Hugo Award (Green Mars).

Related Links
Books by Kim Stanley Robinson
Ecotopia/Tecnotopia: An Interview with Ernest Callenbach
Bladerunner or Ecotopia?: Ecological despair and the vision quest

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Thomas Myer

In this world hellbent for either Tomorrowland or Blade Runner (or a combination of both), filled with the rhetoric of machine-age ejector-seat teleology, millenarian hype and encounters of the cybernetic kind, we sometimes forget how tough and redoubtable this planet is and how totally uncaring. The world has been around since before the first trilobyte and has shrugged off the mighty T. Rex. Assuredly, the ecology will eventually roll over us, despite our silicon dreams and Internet sex.

Unless, of course, we give up our militaristic need to conquer nature and embrace a different way--an approach of interaction and interpenetration. It's hard, because the memes of scientific progress and technologic manifest destiny may have already crucified us. Future Primitive, an anthology of stories partly inspired by Ernest Callenbach's Ecotopia, offers us visions with those difficulties sharply in focus -- futures unimagined by the streetsmart cyberpunks and silicon capitalists.

The multiple award-winning "Bears Discover Fire" by Terry Bisson surprises in its clarity, dazzles with its simplicity and angers with its conclusion. The title ursine characters remind us how we must have been, long ago, when we first harnessed technology--way before smart bombs, plutonium and ozone holes.

Ursula K. Le Guin's "Newton's Sleep" points out that man is but the ultimate herd animal, the most highly evolved of all lemmings, either unable to heed reason, or unwilling to let go of it, to see the truth behind the veneer of consensus reality.

Howard Waldrop's 1976 story, "Mary Margaret Road Grader" describes a future in which Native Americans take back a piece of America and mix tribal customs with a sort of retro-white-trash pastiche of tractor pulls, keggers, and bad blood. The machines exert and tear the land, the men smoke hemp and a single woman changes everything forever. It all ends not in a crescendo of steel and gears, but the silence of rust and unforgiven bygones.

There are other stories too, by Robert Silverberg, Gene Wolf, Pat Murphy, and Ernest Callenbach among others. A worthy anthology for any collection and an important voice in science fiction.

Copyright © 1997 by Thomas Myer

Thomas Myer is a technical writer and freelance scoundrel. When he's not reading or writing, his family (wife Hope, and dogs Kafka and Vladimir) makes him mow the lawn and scrub floors. He also happens to be an excellent scratch cook.

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