I didn't sit down in the early 2000's and say: "Hey, I'm gonna write an ecofantasy!" I'm an environmentalist and have been as long as I can remember, but these stories grow, primarily, out of my love for the natural world (I am an avid amateur wildlife photographer) and my observations about how society works.
Humanity has been immensely productive since the industrial revolution, by which I mean we've made a lot of *stuff.* In Indigo Springs, magic gets spilled in Oregon and a part of the state's forests overgrow and become, essentially enchanted. When this happens, they take out a number of towns--about a third of the state's land area has to be evacuated--and what's left on the forest floor is rubble and consumer products. There are dead cars and action figures and hunks of concrete and rebar and consumer electronics and dead power and sewage plants and houses full of clothes and furniture, entire dead shopping malls with shelves full of products. All of it's just been crushed and scattered by the growth of the magically contaminated trees, which are skyscraper high and bound together by other enchanted vegetation: ivy runners and other vines, for example. And it's all inhabited by animals who've also grown large and in some cases more aggressive as they've been affected by the transformation.
What's handy about this is that the heroine of both novels, Astrid Lethewood, can turn random objects into magically empowered items, chantments, that are safe for people to use. (People don't do well when they come into direct contact with raw magic, any more than trees or animals do). So she's got an overgrown forest filled with things that are, on the one hand, litter and on the other hand are the raw material she needs to deal with the disaster.
The tie to all of this, within my political backbrain, is essentially fossil fuel. We make action figures and lawn furniture and silverware and all the things we need and have out of fossil fuel (and, usually, underpaid labour). The price is low when you consider what we're spending, in terms of cold hard cash. And it may come to be very high as climate change continues to have its way with us over the coming century.
In the West we're in a place where a lot of us are starting to be concerned about this, and one of the things many of us are doing, to whatever extent we can afford it, is shopping our way out of it. There's a degree to which I support this. I do believe that every time we spend money we're voting for a corporation and, by extension, it's environmental practices. I think a big company's market share has as much or more effect on our lives as our leaders' approval ratings or share of the popular vote. When I ride public transit and I count the number of people who've said yes to Apple's various iGadgetry--and I fall in that category--I know I'm looking at the work of a corporation that could and does have a massive effect on the world, its people, and our quality of life.
On the other hand, I recognize there's real naivete in hoping that buying green products and trying to source all our food from within a 100 mile limit and car sharing will magically stop the Antarctic ice sheet from melting. In this respect, green consumerism might also be like voting: an environmentalist might feel like they have to do it, but they might also wonder whether they're making enough of a difference.
In Indigo Springs and Blue Magic, the eco-magical disaster seems to blow up out of nowhere. People race madly to get ahead of it, and I suppose the central question of the second novel is whether or not it's too late. And if it is too late, what then?
Read the first chapter of Indigo Springs here
Read the first chapter of Blue Magic here
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