In the spring, at the end of the day, you should smell like dirt. -Margaret Atwood
It’s spring, so my energy levels have gone way up from the long, stormy winter. And yes, I’ve smelled like sweat, dirt, tomatoes, and everything else at the end of the day lately. You can read my latest Backyard Wildlife series here. I’m seriously loving this time of year, and I hope you are too.
Here’s the big news for this month: I don’t know why, because I always swore I wouldn’t do it, but I started an ecofiction subreddit. I am not a big reddit reader, though I joined a running channel a few years ago and was semi-active in it. Anyway, you’re invited to join, and if you’re fair-minded and could commit to be active, I could probably use some help with it—just a couple people as moderators, who are open-minded and have some knowledge about the diversity of genres dealing with eco-literature and climate change. I think the biggest draw to this subreddit is a megathread where you can self-promote your eco-novels, films, and other projects as well as an almost daily source of resources and news. The place is new, just about two weeks old.
The Rewilding Our Stories Discord is voting on another book to read! I think voting will close tonight. Regardless of whether or not you have time to vote, all the books look great. We’re doing something different this time; we’re going to read along with Lovis Geier—on one of the books that she’s reading anyway for her wonderful Ecofictology vlogger channel. Also, we started a new weekly question thread, which is a lot of fun, helpful, and inspiring, even. We’ve made it much easier to join the Discord recently. And, if you introduce yourself and stay active, you can be promoted to have extra perks, like posting in the self-promotion channel.
Book of the Month
This month I’m reading The Bestiary, edited by Ann VanderMeer. It’s a wonderful anthology featuring Karen Lord, Dexter Palmer, Brian Evenson, China Miéville, Felix Gilman, Catherynne M. Valente, Rikki Ducornet, and Karin Lowachee. I might be kinda dumb, but I never thought an ampersand was anything other than a symbol for the word “and”—and now it has taken on a whole new meaning to me, making my world brighter, along with many other wild stories with horror as well as fantastical creatures!
This month’s world ecofiction series heads to the Pacific Rim and other places around the world with Steven Kotler, author of The Devil’s Dictionary and more. His latest novel (Dictionary) is a sequel to Last Tango in Cyberspace. Both of these books are sci-fi thrillers set in the near future. They depict a version of our world, in the near future, where the major environmental catastrophes we currently face—climate change and mass extinction—have been averted. Coming soon in the series are interviews with Jewell Parker Rhodes, Katie Welch, Dennis Mombauer, Lauren James, and more!
Turning the Tide is a section devoted to children, middle-grade, teen, and YA audiences. My review of Ellen Dee Davidson’s children’s/middle-grade novel Wind is, I hope, revealing of a spectacular story. The book is a fantasy-adventure tale with strong nods to the environmental perils of our modern world. The place-writing is awesome!
I’m always adding to my article about eco-genres, the latest of which is lunarpunk. It seems to me that fiction about the health of our planet, including its ecosystem balances, is really growing. I used to get just a few news alerts in my email inbox each week, but now I’m getting a lot more and it’s not always easy to get everything up at Dragonfly, but I’m really trying! Here’s some new books, films, and other projects I’ve run across recently:
Good Energy is a new playbook for screenwriting in the age of climate change. I am seriously impressed by this project. It’s got so many useful writing tips and also tries to pair writers with filmmakers.
I probably mention Stelliform Press quite a lot in this newsletter; they are really doing some great things. I recently read an ARC of Dennis Mombauer’s The House of Drought (July 2022). It tickled an itch to read some ecological weird fiction; it’s set in Sri Lanka and is hauntingly palpable and creepy. I’ve just noticed that the publisher also has an upcoming novel by Rae Mariz, called Weird Fishes—a delightful underwater fantasy novella out this August.
A recent article from The Conversation Africa, Literature from the Congo Basin offers ways to address the climate crisis, highlights some novels (Congo Inc. by Bofane, Le Silence de la forêt by Goyémidé, and Les Marchands du développement durable by Ndinga) and explores ways in which stories can remind of us our relationships with nature, expose wrongdoings and consequences of human violations, and uncover wrong assumptions.
Men, a film by Alex Garland (Ex Machina, Annihilation), is about a recently divorced woman who heads to the English countryside to heal, and then some weird men happen. Described as folk horror (which is often about the loss of landscape), this movie seems to deal with the weird in the usual Alex Garland fashion. It comes out on May 20th, and I’m really looking forward to it.
Montana poets embrace Native culture in a new graphic novel from Montana Free Press. Thunderous, by M.L. Smoker and Natalie Peeterse, is a Lakota story that seeks to honor Indigenous traditions.
Wildlot Press is republishing The Encantadas, first published by Herman Melville in Putnam Magazine in 1854. The newer edition includes a new introduction by Elizabeth Hennessy, author of On the Backs of Tortoises: Darwin, the Galápagos, and the Fate of an Evolutionary Eden, plus ten new full-color illustrations from artist Eric Tonzola. (The book cover below is not of the new edition.)
In case you’ve missed these exciting resources at Dragonfly, which are constantly being updated, check ‘em out!
World’s biggest playlist? Our environmental/nature song-of-the-week playlist goes back to 2015.
Book recommendations: a growing list of recs.
Eco/climate genres: They’re all over the place, and here’s an expanding compendium
Inspiring and informative author quotes from Dragonfly’s interviews
List of ecologically focused games
List of eco/climate films and documentaries
Ecofiction links and resources
Book database: Database of over 900 book posts at Dragonfly.eco
Turning the Tide: The Youngest Generation: Fiction aimed toward children, teens, and young adults
Indie Corner: The occasional highlight of authors who publish independently
Backyard Wildlife: A hidden gem exploring how we are rewilding our own backyard and meadow
Artists & Climate Change. This is an extraordinary resource delving into all kinds of the arts focused on climate change. For a while now they’ve been rerunning my world ecofiction spotlights. I’m a core writer for their team, and I’m both honored and grateful. Look for my “Wild Authors” series there.