At the beginning of the fall 2017 semester, I shared with Amanda a dystopian science fiction story I had been writing about environmental pollution and disease. In this story, women were becoming barren or were giving birth to deformed children, and given this rapid fall in human births, an apparatus was designed for birthing children with the help of machines. It was supposed to be a reflection on the ways humans need to change our habits as the ecological damage we’re causing starts posing real threats to our existence.
After all we’ve experienced this semester, I’ve become convinced that my story was actually very dystopian, and perhaps not aligned with my inner mission of creating stories in order to communicate the “necessity of tomorrows” (Samuel Delany’s term), and creating visionary stories for the future. I decided to re-write the plot of this story from a new perspective.
This time, it has a more positive ending, with the journeys of three characters traced from the anthropocene, back to a viable biosphere. A brief write-up of the plot of this short story is as follows:
What is a H.O.M.E? The Human-Obstetrical Manufactured Environment is the birthing apparatus developed by the biotech firm H.O.M.E., Inc., to ensure the continuation of the human race in the case of inhospitable climate change, nuclear war or disease, and/or the migration to another planet or space-born colony. These children are referred to as “cy-mbryos”, or cyborg-embryos, because of their machine-assisted development.
In the wake of devastating ecological damage, social inequality, and rising political fascism in America, the accidental integration of the ‘cy-mbryos’ into American society changes everything. Though originally intended to act as ‘the Mars legacy’ – or the continuation of human society, beyond Earth – their unique consciousness (a hybrid, humanoid-technological consciousness, with an ability to see connections where others do not) allows them to start developing the roadmap to some of the solutions to the world’s mounting environmental and social challenges.
Sure, this “worlding” (Haraway’s term) or visioning (our class’ term) will not be perfect or “ecotopian” – I still believe people are complex, and there will always be problems to be solved. But as humans are driven to a point they’ve never been at before in recorded history, something important is learned along the way, and in this short story, they come out on the other side.
So, for my final project, I will submit this revised short story, with annotations from sources found during the course of this semester, with real news stories that inspired some of the writing, and from ideas and concepts I feel are applicable and essential to what we’ve learned this semester as environmental humanists. Additionally, I will include a brief write-up explaining my choices of plot and why I feel this story is important to designing nature’s futures.