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The Anthropocene or the Areopagitavocene?

UpLyft Protocol: A Novel (The Ceres Yield Trilogy)

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I wrote UpLyft Protocol  over the last six years in my spare time as a brace to understand the coming epoch of biosphere change.  Writing it helped me to find a path through my personal trials and tribulations.  I wrote it to cope with species loss, resource depletion, and the damage we have inflicted on our blue dot, our marble, our only home.  Mostly I wrote to reflect on where we might go next as a species, whether to the next century or to the stars, and whether we will make it to either.

I will tell you right up front, I am not a professional writer, just a regular guy really; an amateur who has read and studied ecology and science fiction for years.  I have written many things, but published nothing before now.  This book was originally meant to be a private exercise too.  However political events and climate findings over the past couple of years (if you’re here, you know what I mean) led me to publish anyway.  Future generations will face tough choices, and hard facts.  Maybe what I have written, I reasoned, would help them, or at least one person, better deal with the reality of their own situation; a window to another possible world.  Ask yourself, what more can a book do?  Change the world? 

The existential threat represented by climate change and sea level rise fiction has not captured and dominated the broader public’s collective imagination, and certainly has not changed the Earth.  There have been some films, the ones of a frozen planet, a water-covered world, but not a recent popularized novel.  (Though it would be nice if the works of Kim Stanley Robinson, and a number of others, were known more widely outside of their base in science/climate fiction.)  Of course, impacts of recent literature have and are being felt, but climate change fiction seems to be a drop in the ocean of culture that we are up against.  Why is Ready Player One  an instant success, but fiction that deals directly with climate change is not atop entertainment news?  Maybe the time scale and physical scope is too great to relate with mere words?  I would say not.  However specifically climate fiction/sea level rise novels (and there are good ones) have not reached deep into the body of our modern culture and grabbed the heart.  No single work of literature yet represents the reality of what climate change means to humanity enough to inspire financial commitments to its widest distribution.  Is it because the massive implications of an evolving Earth have not been understood on the required personal scale?  One would think nothing more need be said than, “The conditions for life on Earth are changing!  Sea level rise will swallow the breeding grounds for life in our ocean!  Millions of people will be on the move and will be desperate for your food and shelter!”  Some say to expect an individual work of art to ignite change is asking too much.  They say we should rely on many versions of climate change future to motivate our response, like a million nipping ants, a swarm of mosquitos, a haze of gnats, and hope for the best.

I believe in response diversity.  We need varied incantations of the present crisis to reach as many people as possible.  But I also believe we need speculative stories that completely do away with the veil, stories that are realistic portrayals of the cause and effect of the epic challenges of our time; if you will allow, like an accurately re-interpreted Odyssey  written for our age, we need a new set of myths to get us through being tied to the masts of our Earth ship.  In one regard, we have The Expanse, we have Game of Thrones, Star Wars, Star Trek, and on and onWhy not such a series to capture the popular imagination specifically in regards to sea level rise and biosphere contraction?  Maybe expecting our great authors to produce popular climate fiction that will raise direct attention to this fearful question in our time  is just too much to ask.  Is the foreshadowed pain too great, only to be understood too late, in retrospect?  That should not be a problem for science fiction writers who conjure the future.  Then ask: Should writers depict climate change head on or should we turn an eye to crafting stories in and with our peripheral vision?  Surely fantastical metaphorical representations of biosphere breakdown and climate reality are immensely valuable.  They give us new ways to see, and to name, what is happening around us.  I love to read them myself.  But for some such writing, too much novelty mixed with the surreal may obfuscate what is happening here on Earth, plus run the risk of being strangely eaten, the message consumed by popular culture and passed quickly out again.  There are other reasons: polarized, distracted audiences, time constraints, outright denial, need to escape from life’s hardships, many people hardly read, inertia in a pre-existing order.  Or maybe it is authorial guard, market resistance, fear of extreme positions, simple profitability, not stepping out of career bounds, a world not quite ready to accept the dissolution of existing ecological realities, rightly or wrongly hanging on to the old ways.

But do not be mistaken, massive ecological realignments will proceed unabated.  (Ecological beatings will continue until the climate on our Earth ship improves!)  Yes, this is clearly the beginning of an era of epochal change.  I believe we must be shown courage by visionaries in the face of this challenge, to appropriate the story, again, if I may apply a myth, against Herculean odds.  We need the power of great story tellers to grab us directly and to engage, to shake and to say, “Wake up!  We must be ready, we must prepare for this now!”  Gently explaining threatened doom with riddles is the same as accidentally stepping on the tail of a rattlesnake when we should directly pin its head with a forked stick and move it out of our way.  Will we find an improved, unified vision for the difficult truth of what is to come?  Or will we blindly poison our hopes and home with fractured writing as we attempt to convince ourselves we are a multi-planetary species?  Put another way, and this is a major question posed by my book, UpLyft Protocol,  can our cerebral abilities uplift humanity into Space, a place devoid of what sustains life, or will we fade away with ohe Anthropocene, our namesake age?  What will The Ceres Yield

And so, this is my drop in the sea, my contribution to the coming wave of climate change literature.  Though the breadth and depth of this subject is huge, I tackled it best as I could as a lone individual.  My writing does not have foul language to speak of.  It contains little direct portrayal of violence and gore, though it does have references to destruction and mass casualties.  I have tried to write a widely accessible story, not just for the young or for adults, not simply for one specific genre or another.  (Though I like to think of it as sci-fi/cli-fi/eco-fiction, interspersed with a bit of ‘nature writing.’)  I have tried to cross boundaries and to pass through the membranes of time that separate our current ways of seeing from those who will look back on our days.  (Some who are already alive will live through my imagined disrupted near future 2094, and maybe another ten billion more.)  I have also tried to be open to many views on the current ecological crisis.  But ultimately, I have portrayed where I think biosphere contraction leads through the eyes of diverse characters that embody hope and courage in the face of unimaginable adversity.  I do not expect my story to change the world, but maybe it will help someone in addition to me.  I have written and edited it by myself, in a cave so to speak, with inspiration from too many writers to here name.

The result is at minimum a speculative science fiction story.  Would Amitav Ghosh call it bourgeoisie realist with elements of the uncanny?  Maybe.  The novels’ structure is fairly straight forward, linear and “old school,” in regards to plot, character development, etc…  I would not call it ‘weird’ fiction.  It is based on a recognizable Earth whose early tendrils of life are reaching to the stars.  But it is set against the obscene reality that the Holocene has faded.  In the future, this background threat to our civilization may relegate us to obscurity and hide humanity in the deep history of the unseen past.  (I have not read Adam Frank’s new book, Light of the Stars, but his thesis that climate change challenges planetary existence resonates with me and The Ceres Yield  themes.)  However perceived, my intent has been to ponder the Anthropocene epoch and wrestle  with whether it might become the Areopagitavocene – “The Age Without Reason,” an age absent tolerance, wisdom and patience, one without rational limits on the worst impulses in humanity.  I have wondered whether our species will get this story right, or whether we have placed together great rivers of speech that will only end with a whimper as our time trickles from a wasteland into the Sea, fades on the universal Ocean of Space, disappears into aureality.  (Nod to T.S. Elliot.)  So this is why I decided to publish.  Thanks again for visiting.  May you enjoy the read.

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Edward H. Moseley III

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