02-01-2007 09:36 PM
In The Norton Book of Science Fiction, read "Balanced Ecology" by James Schmitz.
What do you think was the original idea behind the story, and which details from the story were extrapolated from that idea?
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03-11-2007 07:28 PM
I read this story this weekend and enjoyed it, though I found myself predicting the end after the businessman pulled out his weapon.
I think that the original "what if" or element extrapolated was the idea of a farm running itself. Modern farms are nearly all mechanized nowadays, the machines doing much if not most of the labor.
Next, add the idea of a self-sufficient ecology instead of a mechanized farm. It's not hard to imagine a farm ecology that would work the same way, with different animals and plants each playing a role in creating the product.
In this case, Schmitz had already had the 'farms' working as natural forests before the humans arrived on the planet, and in his denouement explains that the forest-as-entity recognizes it needs humans to live, and incorporates the farm family into its ecology.
Another element that is extrapolated is the danger to this environment from a short-sighted businessman who wants to make a big profit now, at the expense of destroying an irreplaceable resource. This creates the germ of the conflict between the forest, its defenders, and the businessman and his people.
Once you have the idea of self-sufficient forest, and add the idea of threat to that forest in the person of the clear-cutting businessman, and give the forest the means to defend itself with Sam, the web, and the unseen "cleaners," you have the gist of the story. A nice job of extrapolation.
03-12-2007 06:07 PM
It was a lot about being ecologically aware and safe, with a bit of we're-all-connected philosophy thrown in. Had some moments about using the law for personal gain too. Very paranoid. :-)
Perhaps he started with a circle-of-life idea and tried to see how literal he could make it?
03-12-2007 06:37 PM
03-13-2007 02:47 PM - edited 03-13-2007 02:47 PM
Message Edited by marta_randall on 03-13-200711:48 AM