Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Reading: A World Made by Hand

Kunstler's novel is dystopian sci-fi of a different sort. Our more probable future, as is now apparent, will be one of devolution, rather than hyper-technology. If we come up with something along the lines of nuclear fusion, then we're on for R2D2 and the Death Star, but if not we're looking at a transition to the kind of neo-rural scenarios that Kunstler imagines. It's unclear whether he longs for or dreads it more. Me too.

Kunstler's novel is the story of the events of a few weeks in the town of Union Grove, in the vicinity of Albany, after the oil has run out, influenza epidemics have decimated the population, and bombs have destroyed Washington D.C and L.A. The electrical grid has gone down and central government has faded away. The town is on its own – for its food, fuel, shelter. Life reverts to the patterns of a 100 years ago, with the difference that people of the town are demoralized by the memory of how easy things were before.

At this point the odds are looking better for decentralization than world cities. We may lose some ground in the efficiency of production with decentralization but it is the lesser of two evils.

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