Forty years before the first Earth Day, George R. Stewart saw his greatest novel published. Like any powerful classic, the novel goes on and on, helping its readers deal with one of the greatest changes in vision of the last 100 years – the Earth-centered environmental view of things. Readers of the novel receive an education in practical ecology, often without realizing they’re getting educated, since the work is so masterfully written.
Stewart knew what he was doing, though. As he was working on Earth Abides, he defined himself as “what might be called an ecologist” in a letter to a publisher.
The novel has just been reprinted by Mariner Press with an excellent introduction by award-winning science fiction author Kim Stanley Robinson. Even if you’ve read Stewart’s novel before, it’s worth buying for the introduction – and the price is more than reasonable.
The world moves on – on this Earth Day NASA produced the first oxygen from the Martian atmosphere and flew the extraordinary Ingenuity helicopter for a second time on Mars – higher, and farther. All of this so that when humans leave our ecosystem to explore other worlds’ ecosystems, we will be prepared.
And thanks to Stewart and his great classic, we will go with the Ranger’s ecological view of our new worlds.
Let us now celebrate this exceptional man and his classroom-in-a-novel on this Earth Day 2021.