Friday, April 07, 2006

Ecology and Fiction

The by-now famous Life of Pi is the story of an Indian boy Pi and his survival from the shipwreck, alone on a boat with Richard Parker, a Bengal tiger, for company. This book has strange book reviews. Btw, your journey is not complete if you don't finish Pi off by reading Max and the Cats or vice versa. During the long journey, Pi and Richard Parker find a floating island of greenery that replenishes Pi with fresh water and Richard Parker with meerkats that he swats and kills for pleasure, rediscovering the primordial urge after days at sea. The main point however is that the greenery is a carnivore that generates killer acid in the night, consumes meerkats and humans, and spews out bones during the day. This episode in the book is a beautiful blend of ecology, magic and imagery.

Ecology is also at work in Amitav Ghosh's The Hungry Tide. This is a book set in the Sunderbans, a vast tidal area where the river Ganges terminates. The book captures the mood of living in a twilight zone where small islands disappear twice a day, there are river dolphins and sharks, and people ponder if the currents formed by Ganges and Brahmaputra as they plow into ocean do meet under the ocean and form a loop comprising a "river" that would then be longer than the Amazon (therefore becoming the second longest river in the world?). The days are languid with no focal point and the storms are destructive. In an incredible episode in the book, the main characters try to survive the eye of the storm passing through them.

I have been increasingly coming across fiction that embraces ecology.

5 Comments:

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Blogger The Guy said...

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If you like ecological fiction, especially ecological science fiction, David Brin has written a number of very good books which have some deep ecological themes, "Earth" is one and the entire "Uplift" series starting with "Sundiver" is great too.
Keep up the good blogging!

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