“Winter is coming.” ― George R.R. Martin
Hello, subscribers! Thanks so much for continuing to read the Dragonfly.eco newsletter, published in the middle of each month. Dragonfly is a place to find meaningful stories about our natural world and humanity’s connection with it. The site explores the wild, crazy, and breathtaking literary trail of eco-fiction, with a large book database, spotlights, interviews, and more. Our motto is “blowing your mind with wild words and worlds.” This site raises awareness of the impact of, and diversity in, storytelling around the world that explores climate and ecology.
Like so many others, I’m pushing toward the end of my next novel’s first draft at NaNoWriMo, having completed the first 70K-word-goal on The Stolen Child this past summer. This 300+ page sequel to Back to the Garden is one I dreamed of four years ago when my family went to Ireland for part of the summer and I completed a trailrun atop the Cliffs of Moher. I’m excited to relive some of my experiences there and will publish this novel late next year.
Winter is coming, at least for those of us in the northern hemisphere, and because of so much wind, snow, and cold where I live, I get a lot of writing done in the season. But I also like to uphold the now, celebrate it. I look out my window and see deer in the back meadow. The meadow has turned mostly brown and gray, with accents of green from spruces, yellow from golden-rods and rose leaves, red from maples, and orange from hawthorn and cherry trees. My dining room farm table has turned into a crafts station as I make gifts for the holidays, and the wood stove burns bright with golden flame. Happy November, everyone!
Check out our newest Backyard Wildlife post, which explores white-tailed deer and COVID-19. Recently NPR covered a story about how SARS-CoV-2 in American deer could alter the course of the global pandemic. White-tailed deer, the article said, are highly susceptible to the virus and studies have shown that 40% of deer in the Northeast and the Midwest have been found to have antibodies for the virus.
Click here for a compilation of author quotes rounded up from my interviews going back to 2013. Here’s a great one by Edan Lepucki.
I believe it was Ursula Le Guin who said that speculative fiction writers aren’t writing about the future, but the present; that is, they’re holding a mirror up to the world and showing us how we see the world and ourselves in it. That is quite powerful, particularly in a time when we’re facing so many challenges, and we literally are creating the problem.
–Edan Lepucki on writing speculative fiction about climate change
November’s World Eco-fiction Spotlight shines on author, editor, and director Dr. Michael Mohammed Ahmad. I talk with him about his work in promoting literacy with the Sweatshop: Western Sydney Literacy Movement, his novels, and so much more. I was moved deeply by this interview, and I think you’ll enjoy it too.
Find some new links in Turning the Tide: Lauren James, author and founder of the Climate Fiction Writers League, writes about eco-fiction for kids; she talks with authors Vashti Hardy and Tom Huddleston. Also, Suffolk Library recommends and loans out climate change books for children.
Dragonfly has a new section covering video and other games that explore environmental themes and nature. Check it out here. Forever the nerd, I think I’ll play video games until I’m 100. Currently, however, I’m down to one game that I play whenever friends are free, and that’s Valheim. It’s a survival game with viking culture, but I like it because it completely immerses you in the natural landscape of various biomes: meadow, black forest, swamp, mountain, plains, and more. The weather, storms, and ocean rise are intense. Whenever islands are flooded over during storms, I think of modern climate change. You can also see the impact of resource extraction. You fell trees but can save seeds and plant them. If you mine copper and other ore, the mines deface the natural environment, anger the local wildlife, and do not come back.
In the Rewilding Our Stories Discord, our membership keeps growing, reaching more than 160. In our newest book club read, we’re enjoying Matt Bell’s Appleseed, an epic sort of novel, inspired by Johnny Appleseed, spanning different time periods. To join the Discord, make an account first and then visit https://discord.com/invite/txgJNVg. Please be sure to follow the bot’s join instructions. You can also read my interview with Matt Bell.
Check our Climate and Ecological Films section for some new movies out this fall. Quite a run of new films came around in the summer and early fall, so check out the news archives for those. We went to see Dune the night it came out, and thought it was pretty awesome and reflective of the novel as much as possible for part 1. Another recent film we saw was Finch, with Tom Hanks. It’s not really a movie about AGW climate change. However, I would call it eco-fiction because in the film, solar flare activity had burned through the ozone in parts of the world and forever changed ecological systems everywhere. At the heart, it’s an emotional tearjerker about a guy, his dog, and a robot named Jeff.
In this month’s Indie Corner, I rebooted a wonderful conversation I had a few years ago with Jennifer Harrington, author and illustrator at Eco Books 4 Kids. The interview explores her children’s book Spirit Bear as well as the then looming threat of the Northern Gateway Pipeline project, which was squashed by the government, though recent talks by Conservative Party leader Erin O’Toole want to revive the project.
I’ve added a Support Us link to Dragonfly. I do not ask for donations and will never put content behind a paywall or install ads or annoying pop-ups. But ever since our move to Nova Scotia, I’ve expanded my Dragonfly Pub business to include book review and editorial services. So check it out!
November Book Recommendation
New section here at Dragonfly’s newsletter!
Based on a talk that Nnedi Okorafor gave to Matt Bell’s creative writing class (see “In Other News” below), I thought it was time to read her novel Lagoon. It’s been on my reading list forever, and I’ve recommended it before, based upon previous reviews. In her talk with Bell’s class, I learned some things about Lagoon. First published in 2014, it’s a different take on an alien invasion than something like the movie District 9, which displayed Africans differently than they genuinely are. Further, Okorafor revealed how much she enjoys the ocean environment as well as myths of sea creatures, which tie into the novel, and partly why she set this novel in Lagos, Nigeria, a city on the ocean. In my exploration of African fiction that is concerned about the environment and/or is immersed into natural ecosystems, I had already read Okorafor’s Who Fears Death, and fell in love. I’m just getting into Lagoon and am spellbound.
Rice University has a new Zoom discussion series titled Discussing Our Research & Knowledge Socially (DORKS). I’ll join DORKS as a speaker on December 18th at 3:15 pm EST in a session about science and art. I’ll be talking about eco-fiction alongside another speaker who will talk about fungi-inspired art.
Watch for my review of Eliza Mood’s O Man of Clay, coming near the end of November. According to the publisher, Stairwell, “O Man of Clay is a finely imagined and complex dystopian novel about an England of the future overwhelmed by environmental catastrophe.”
I am a copy-editor for the tri-annual Ecology & Action magazine, which is based in Nova Scotia. The next magazine is coming soon. You can also check out the spring 2021 issue, where I wrote the article Ecological Fiction Inspires Action [PDF].
In Other News
Wow, this talk with Nnedi Okorafor and one of Matt Bell’s creative writing classes at ASU is enlightening. Learn more about Okorafor’s successful stories, including her novel Lagoon. She talks about world-building in science fiction, Africanfuturism, the ocean environment, and so much more.
Kim Stanley Robinson was invited to COP26 to talk about how science fiction exploring climate change, like his novel The Ministry for the Future.
Joy Williams’ Harrow wins the 2021 Kirkus Prize for fiction. “She practices…camouflage, except that instead of adapting to its environment, Williams’s imagination, by remaining true to itself, reveals new colorations in the ecology around her.” -A.O. Scott, The New York Times Book Review
Emma Watson posted a solarpunk slideshow to her 61 million followers. Way to get the word out! One thing that she states is that solarpunk is not just utopia, which is a world we cannot obtain. Solarpunk is about the best world that we can get to, which is a great distinction.
Check out some new and upcoming books: The Last Woman in the World by Inga Simpson, The Morning Star by Karl Ove Knausgaard, The Hungry Earth by Nicholas Kaurmann, Milk Teeth by Helene Bukowski, The Annual Migration of Clouds by Premee Mohamed, Termination Shock by Neal Stephenson, Bewilderment by Richard Powers, and Canyonlands Carnage by Scott Graham.
Octavia Butler’s Parable of the Sower is being adapted to a musical theater event created by Toshi Reagon and Bernice Johnson Reagon, directed by Eric Ting. The event takes place in February 2022 at the Krannert Center, and tickets go on sale January 12, 2022. See the Krannert Center for more information.
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, which goes back to 2015.
Inspiring and informative author quotes from Dragonfly’s interviews
List of ecologically focused games
List of eco/climate films and documentaries
Eco-fiction links and resources
Book database (with nearly 900 titles)
Turning the Tide: The Youngest Generation (fiction aimed toward children, teens, and young adults)
Indie Corner: New as of mid-2020, we give a hats off to authors who publish independently
Backyard Wildlife: A new-ish 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 eco-fiction spotlights. Recently they’ve made me a core writer for their team, and I’m both honored and grateful. Look for my “Wild Authors” series there.