Antianthropocentrism and Science Fiction Part I: From Antiquity to World War II
Early science fiction (sf) is noted for, among other things, its conservatism and lack of interest in ecology. This chapter shows that, in fact, many sf works written between the Enlightenment and World War II employ ecological themes and question or revoke anthropocentrism. These works suggest that humans are but one species among many, that we are not the end of nature/history, that the natural world may be better off without us, and, in some cases, that humanity is fated to go extinct, the result of its own hubris. Such views are undoubtedly pessimistic, yet these works may also be read as warnings for humans to seek a humbler view of ourselves as members of what Aldo Leopold calls “the land community.” I discuss the work of many writers in this chapter, beginning with Lucian, but those of H.G. Wells are central.