Posted by: Mish | July 21, 2010

What Are We Doing?

Ship Breaker‘s release on May first couldn’t haven’t been more perfectly timed or eerie. Paolo Bacigalupi writes about a harsh reality where oil, regular weather patterns, and coastal cities have disappeared. The young adult science-fiction happens to be set in a future shanty town along the Gulf Coast. The story follows seventeen year old Nailer whose job is to scavenge scrap metal from beached oil tankers. When the daughter of a shipping company owner is found among wreckage, he’s faced with the decision of whether to kill her and sell her for parts or to help and trust her.

I’ve been trying not to add (too many) books to the reading pile, but after reading an interview with Bacigalupi about the Ship Breaker and the Gulf’s recent oil leak I couldn’t help myself. I wish I remembered where I came across the article. I’m not familiar with the author’s works, but have heard good things about the Windup Girl and recognize it in part because it was nominated for a Hugo Award.

If you’ve read anything by Bacigalupi, what did you think?

On a similar note, “What Are We Doing?” by Alexander James Adams paints a picture where:

“Our skies are now blackened by smoke and our oceans are burned. Our mountains are flattened and broken from above and below. Great words of concern have been spoken but very few deeds of true love have we to show.”

While hearing the new single’s first stanza prior to the chorus above, I chuckled in puzzlement. TV and technology are far from the faerie tale minstrel’s usual themes so I wondered where the folk song was going. Then I understood as it became more serious and angry with Adams asking:

“What are we doing with our cities so tall and laws so extending and our hearts still so small? What are we doing for the person we see? Do we crank up our earphones and turn on that TV? Our birds die of oil, our fish die of air, our water is poisoned, our forests lay bare, but we still wear our crystals and pray on bent knee and we still gladly kill you when you disagree. We’ve got what we want from this life, but what have we returned?”

For better or worse, what are we doing? The song reflects my own thoughts and frustrations so I’ll leave it at that.


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