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Chicago Review of Books

pablo-8“Burning Worlds” is a new monthly column dedicated to examining important trends in climate change fiction, or “cli-fi.”

It astonishes to think just how long humans have known that the Earth is getting warmer. The term “global warming” didn’t enter public consciousness until the 1970s, but scientists have studied our planet’s natural greenhouse effect since at least the 1820s. In 1896, a Swedish chemist named Svante Arrheniussome concluded that human activity (like coal burning) contributed to the effect, warming the planet further.

And yet, here we find ourselves in 2017, still wrestling with manmade climate change like it’s a new phenomenon. Why have we not acted sooner? The answer may lie in what Indian author Amitav Ghosh calls humanity’s “great derangement”: our inability to perceive the enormity of the catastrophe that awaits us.

That’s where fiction writers come in.*

For years, authors have been writing climate change fiction, or “cli-fi,” a genre of…

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Look into self-defense classes

Posted: January 12, 2017 in Uncategorized

I don’t know. I’m down for wearing this right now. 

Via here


Meal-replacement mix Soylent had a wildly successful Kickstarter, a year of massive growth where demand far outpaced supply, and has now raised $20 million in funding, led by Andreessen Horowitz. Some hail it as the health-ensuring time-saver we’ve all been waiting for. Others lament it as the latest harbinger of our Silicon Valley-enfoced dystopian future. But what’s it actually like to drink the stuff, physically — and emotionally? These five writers muse on what it feels like — and means for us as a food-centric society — to be free from food.

1. “Freedom from Food” (Nicola Twilley, Aeon, October 2014)

In the end, the time and money saved by switching to drinkable meals couldn’t make up for one fundamental drawback for Twilley: taste. “The only real upside to replacing food with Soylent was that my first real food after five days – half a proper New York bagel with…

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gather and grow

I’m probably not the only one for whom one of the main draws of small-scale natural building — besides low environmental impact, aesthetic value, and non-toxic building materials — is that such a house can cost considerably less than a conventionally built house. That one could build a home practically debt-free. But it’s hard to find actual estimates for how much a cob house, for example, might end up costing. I want to share here my research-in-progress in case it may be useful for some of you. (I focus on cob building; the situation may be very different in case of straw bale houses, log cabins, earthships etc.)

cob-2First, a sobering note I’ve heard from the lips of many experienced builders: a natural building can cost as much as a conventional custom-built home if you have someone else do all the work of designing and building it. More often than…

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Funk's House of Geekery

The world after the apocalypse is pretty easy to visualise. Vast deserts, people wearing gasmarks and mutant cannibals. It’s become such a staple in fiction that we’ve got it down pat. Everything from Mad Max to Fallout 3 looks roughly the same. On occasion things go a different way, and the world we end up in is…weird.

#10 – We Become Both Hippies and Jerks

The Time Machine


When a Victorian England scientist creates a time machine and travels far, far, far into the future he finds the peaceful, gentle and frugal Eloi, living among the overgrown ruins of human society. For those not looking forward to a life of vegetarianism there’s the Morlocks, an underground race of savage, ape-like creatures who prey on the Eloi. Most post-apocalyptic worlds see something resembling the human race scraping out a living, but here we’ve turned against ourselves in an extreme way.


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