All posts filed under: Featured Ekostories

Hawaiian Island Topography Large

Atlas of Remote Islands: Fifty Islands I Have Never Set Foot On and Never Will

The first place I ever felt at home in was on an island. My grandparents lived on Cheung Chau, an island ten kilometers southwest of Hong Kong. Literally translated as “long isle”, Cheung Chau is shaped like a dumbbell, its two granite masses joined in the middle by a sandbar. As a child I spent weekends and summers there fishing and swimming, and even now the scent of saltspray and sewage sends me back to that grimy old fishing village. This fondness for islands stayed and deepened. When I moved to Canada and started to read English I found myself drawn to Earthsea, the fantasy archipelago world of Ursula K. Le Guin. On each of her conjured isles laid not only magic and adventure, but moods intrinsic to and defined by geography. I connected to Astowell, last land before the open sea; Gont and its snow-capped peak rising up like a sharp spire; Osskil, raven realm, icebound and alien. Many times I have sailed in my mind to the shores of Selidor at the westernmost edge of the world, that …

Surface waves water ripples

The Drop That Contained the Sea, by Christopher Tin

Recently while sorting through my soundtrack collection, I came across an old and beloved piece of music. Titled “Baba Yetu“, it was the feature song for Civilization 4, an entry in a popular strategy game series that came out in 2004. While humming the tune and falling into the timesink that is Wikipedia, I learned that the song is a Swahili translation of the Lord’s Prayer, that it was the only videogame song in history to win a Grammy, and that the composer Christopher Tin‘s latest creation was a classical crossover album around the theme of water called “The Drop That Contained the Sea“. “The message [of the album] is that, essentially, in the coming century water, and water management, is going to be the most important global issue to all people and across all countries,” Tin says, “Between melting Antarctic ice sheets and rising ocean levels and droughts and increased devastation from hurricanes and so forth, water is literally going to shape the way we draw our maps.” – Christopher Tin, Public Radio International Needless to …

Look Up: Antoine De Saint-Exupéry’s Wind, Sand and Stars

Unlike millions around the world, my first encounter with the works of Antoine de Saint-Exupéry did not involve La Petit Prince; I am ashamed to admit that I have not yet read his most famous work. What I have read, and what continues to stay with me, was the man’s memoir and the inspiration for what is arguably one of the most beloved children’s stories in history. Winner of the National Book Award and hailed by National Geographic as one of the Top Ten adventure books of all time, Wind, Sand and Stars (an English translation by Lewis Galantière of Terre des Hommes, or “Land of Men”) is a work I return to when I grow weary or unsure of life. In the brief tome I am lifted by the soaring spirit of a writer at the height of his craft, by a pioneer of an age past who saw a vaster picture and dared to ask the great questions. Within its pages, I find a soul who believed wholeheartedly in human potential, a man open to the simple joys …

Nausicaa God Warrior Tapestry

The Greatest Ekostory Ever Told: The Nausicaä Project

“In a few short centuries, industrial civilization had spread from the western fringes of Eurasia to sprawl across the face of the planet. Plundering the soil of its riches, fouling the air, and remolding life-forms at will, this gargantuan industrial society had already peaked a thousand years after its foundation: Ahead lay abrupt and violent decline. The cities burned, welling up as clouds of poison in the war remembered as the seven days of fire. The complex and sophisticated technological superstructure was lost; almost all the surface of the earth was transformed into a sterile wasteland. Industrial civilization was never rebuilt as mankind lived on through the long twilight years…” – Introduction, Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind

Changing Planes Nna Mmoy Language Word Cloud

Changing Planes: The Nna Mmoy Language

I downloaded the audiobook version of Changing Planes by Ursula K. Le Guin before a trip so I had something to listen to on a flight. I couldn’t resist the purchase upon reading the premise of the short story collection: The airport serves not only as a space to wait for connecting flights, but also as a place where savvy and knowledgeable travelers can explore other planes of existence.  “Changing planes” thus takes on a whole different meaning. Changing Planes is written in the style of a travelogue, providing brief ethnographic vignettes of different fictional civilizations and cultures. The narration deserves a special mention: Gabrielle de Cuir’s dreamy ethereal voice lends itself perfectly to the fantastical voyages found in Changing Planes. Each of the short tales showcases the power and breadth of imagination that is inherent to the speculative fiction genre; Le Guin asks “What if…” and allows the narrative to take shape around the question. What if there was an island of people who never die? What are the consequences of having random people …