I remember landing at Jalalabad Air Base in Afghanistan very early – maybe 2 a.m. – some December morning in 2011. The base was very dark to prevent night-time mortar attacks. As we navigated the small Forward Operating Base to get to our temporary barracks, I remember hearing a very loud, high-pitched hum coming from the flight line. It sounded unlike anything I’d heard during my previous almost six years in the Air Force Reserve – like a very loud swarm of bees. When I woke the next morning, I discovered the source of this mechanized buzz.“So this is what a drone looks like,” I thought to myself, reflecting back on the headlines from earlier that year, which warned of the proliferation of drone strikes under President Obama.
In 1993, the prolific writer Octavia Butler released her seminal novel, The Parable of the Sower. Butler’s novel is set in 2024, within a landscape of a mostly dystopic American society, in which climate change, wealth inequity, and corporate greed has led to vast resource scarcity. Her dystopia manifests most vividly within the image of fire – massive, human-caused wildfires that destroy the last remaining gated communities throughout southern California and across the United States. When the protagonist Lauren Oya Olamina, a young Woman of Color, experiences her own community burned, she heads north in search of a better life and starts building a new community of travelers along the way.
While Butler published The Parable of the Sower almost 25 years ago, her premonition about climate change has struck as true many times in 2017. Physical wild fires have devastated the lives, homes, and safety of people we all know just over the course of the last few months. We have heard stories of terrifying acts of bravery and the will of sheer survival –