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      Oil and Calories: Energy Paradigms in Paolo Bacigalupi’s Ship Breaker and ‘The Calorie Man’

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          Abstract

          This article applies an energy lens to Paolo Bacigalupi’s Ship Breaker ( 2010) and ‘The Calorie Man’ ( 2005), relying on contemporary environmental readings of Marx to explore their unsustainable metabolic relationship with nature. Situating these texts as critical dystopias, this article maps the dystopian and utopian extrapolations Bacigalupi deploys in his future post-oil society, specifically relating to the infrastructure of late energy transport and energy-related commodities. While Bacigalupi utilises ecologically-oriented genetic and industrial technologies in these texts, his work emphasises that technological solutions alone will not be able to heal our unsustainable metabolism of nature. Bacigalupi enters into cultural debates on the Anthropocene and the Great Acceleration by cognitively estranging animal and human labour, ecological ships, and genetically modified crops, while simultaneously highlighting the exploitation of both people and the environment in late capitalism. This article also explores the resultant metabolic rifts evident in both texts, drawing specific attention to the destabilised aspects of nature that elude capitalistic control and trouble spaces of production and profit, including genetically modified creatures like cheshires, and more ‘natural’ elements like storms and sea-level rise due to global warming. The article ultimately seeks to prove that Ship Breaker and ‘The Calorie Man’ mobilise a dystopian framework to highlight the imbalanced metabolism of energy production under capitalism, moving the reader towards a more realisable social, as opposed to technological, change.

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                Author and article information

                Contributors
                Journal
                2056-6700
                Open Library of Humanities
                Open Library of Humanities
                2056-6700
                13 September 2019
                2019
                : 5
                : 1
                Affiliations
                [1 ]Independent scholar, NO
                Article
                10.16995/olh.119
                de39834d-03f6-4c86-a544-9e10f6854faa
                Copyright: © 2019 The Author(s)

                This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC-BY 4.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited. See http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/.

                Categories
                Powering the future: energy resources in science fiction and fantasy

                Literary studies,Religious studies & Theology,Arts,Social & Behavioral Sciences,History,Philosophy

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