Posts Tagged ‘Refugee Camp’

Yesterday’s Science Fiction as Today’s Reality: Bruce Sterling’s ‘Heavy Weather’

September 13, 2017

Bruce Sterling was, with William Gibson, one of the leading members of the ‘Mirrorshades’ group of SF writers, who launched cyberpunk in the 1980s. This is the SF genre set in dystopian, corporate futures, whose streetwise picaresque heroes entire a VR cyberspace through jacking into the Web. If you want an idea what the genre’s like, see the film Blade Runner, although the film actually came out while Gibson was writing his groundbreaking novel, Neuromancer.

This week the news has been dominated by hurricane Harvey and the other storms that are wreaking such havoc in Florida, Bermuda and other parts of the Caribbean. In a previous article I put up this evening about Trump’s appointment of Jim Bridenstine, a scientific illiterate, who doesn’t believe in climate change as head of NASA, I discussed how Jimmy Dore and his co-host Steffi Zamorano and Ron Placone had said that these storms bear out the continuing decline of the Earth’s climate. Way back in the early part of this century, after several heatwaves, climate scientists warned that climate change meant that the weather would become more extreme.

And Bruce Sterling wrote an entire book about the superstorms that would arise due to climate change in his 1994 SF novel, Heavy Weather (London: Millennium).

This was set in the devastated Texas of the early 21st century, where the aquifers have dried up. It’s a state wracked by violent storms, where thousands have been left homeless and forced into refugee camps by the unstable climate. The blurb for the book reads

2031 – the atmosphere’s wrecked. The Storm Troupers – media unit, scientists, techno-freaks – get their kicks from weather. Hooked up to drones through virtual-reality rigs, they can plunge like maddened darts into the eye of a storm and surf a ride from hell.

Their Holy Grail: the F6, a tornado so intense it’s off the scale. Dangerous in the extreme. Also dangerous: certain people’s sick dreams, full of tornado trails, shining insane paths of endless howling destruction.

The high-tech wonders of a decaying world … and a bunch of wild nomads longing to be blown away.

I think the book was a response by literary SF to the film Twister, about a group of meteorologists chasing tornadoes across the southern US, starring Piers Brosnan. I don’t think we’ve quite reached the level where masses of Americans are being left homeless in refugee camps, nor are their groups quite like the Storm Troupers. But these violent storms are becoming a reality, and will become ever worse as the climate deteriorates.

As Max Headroom used to say in his trailers for Channel 4: ‘The future…is now’.

And it’s disgusting that Trump’s trying to close down climate research, and put in charge of NASA someone who knows precious little about science, and doesn’t believe in climate change.


Vox Political: New Graphic Novel about Calais Refugee Camp

May 24, 2016

I put up a few pieces two years or so ago lamenting the fact that the underground comics now seemed no longer to be about attacking and commenting on contemporary political issues, in the same way that the radical comics underground in the ’60s, ’70s and ’80s did. I was later proved wrong with the publication of graphic novel collecting pieces by various British comic artists commemorating the beginning of the First World War from a left-wing, anti-war perspective. One of those behind the project was the veteran comics writer, creator and serial offender against the establishment, Pat Mills. Now Mike has news on his blog about another graphic novel, which aims to raise awareness of the plight of the refugees in the ‘Jungle’, the Calais refugee camp.

The graphic novel, Threads, is based on the experiences its writer and artist, Kate Evans, in a very short stint she did volunteering. Mike reproduces a few panels from the strip, one of which shows a Russian plane bombing Syria, which is one of the causes of the mass migration of refugees to the West. A few chapters can also be viewed on Evans’ own website, to which Mike provides the link. The panels shown are in full colour, and the whole graphic novel is due to be published by Verso next year, in Spring 2017.

Mike’s article quotes Evans herself that the work is to counter the attacks on the migrants in the right-wing press, who make them both anonymous and present them as a demonic threat. Mike himself points out that many of those objecting to the arrival of refugees forget that they are also people, and that it’s the function of art and culture to remind us of the realities.

This comic story gives a human face to Calais refugees

This is comic art and literature once again serving the vital function of holding a mirror up to reality, to provoke and upset in the cause of humanity. When graphic novels first appeared as an adult literary form in the 1990, Julie Burchill, ranted against them, screaming in her column that anyone over 18 who read them should have their right to vote removed. Of course, Burchill herself has done nothing but spout poisonous, infantile nonsense from her pen and keyboard during her long, literary career, in a series of journals and newspapers including the NME, Spectator, Guardian (how?) and, unsurprisingly, the Daily Heil. This latest graphic work seems to show the opposite: that it’s now the comics medium that increasingly takes a mature look at complex issues, while the supposedly ‘adult’ right-wing press does nothing but scream abuse and create simplistic stereotypes.