Date of Award
Master of Arts
Jeremy . Withers
During the environmentalist movement of the 1960s and 1970s, speculative fiction writer Harlan Ellison published a collection of short stories titled Deathbird Stories that perfectly accomplished and still accomplishes the goals of the movement. Following both the pre-established American tradition of the ecogothic and the patterns of the revolutionary “New Wave” era of science fiction, many stories in Ellison’s anthology set out to terrify and encourage ecological awareness in readers. These stories do this by featuring wrathful and unforgiving gods that represent nature – animal and nonanimal. These godly “ecological horrors” displace and alienate readers with their fantastical elements and graphic and brutal actions, thereby creating a painful yet memorable metaphor to force readers to see how those actions came about, often leading to reflection over reality. This reflection, then, leads to introspection, and allows Ellison to effectively reach and warn and advise his readers even today to think with caution and respect toward the environment that was once ravaged.
Rothlisberger, Miles, "Eco-planetary pantheon: Environmental horror in Harlan Ellison’s Deathbird Stories" (2019). Graduate Theses and Dissertations. 17772.