Entry updated 21 November 2022. Tagged: Author.
(1946-2022) US activist, editor, futurologist and author who is of narrow though legitimate sf interest for the Islands Mysterious Young Adult sequence beginning with Land of the Lost Mammoths: A Science Adventure (2003), whose three young protagonists while visiting Greenland are transported to a Lost World in the interior of the great Island, where they encounter Vikings, flora and fauna typical of Prehistoric SF, along with touches of Magic. In the second tale, Pirates, Bats, and Dragons: A Science Adventure (2004), the same cast, visiting the Island of Socostra in the Indian Ocean near Yemen, encounter witches, a seeming covert American presence (see Imperialism), and a secret Weapon capable of bringing about the End of the World. Auctorial interjections provide a science-based commentary.
Davis is of much greater general significance as a "Marxist-Environmentalist", for the world at large and in the context of this encyclopedia (see Futures Studies), through several nonfiction studies of the past and future of California and the planet. His best-known work, the interdisciplinary City of Quartz: Excavating the Future in Los Angeles (1990), variously traces the City's history, with a focus on the oneiric Utopianism of its founders and builders, and the often surreal futures they continue to fabulate. In the course of his acute rendering of the complex impact of the fabric of California upon its residents and, partially through the Hollywood dream-factory (see Cinema), upon the world at large, he pointedly invokes the Carceri (various dates) of Giovanni Battista Piranesi. Ecology of Fear: Los Angeles and the Imagination of Disaster (1998) (again see California) exhaustively examines sf responses in fiction and film to the future of city and the state, more often than not couched in terms of Disasters natural or induced (see Climate Change; Ecology; Pollution). The End of the World may well ensue.
Radically pessimistic prophecies of government failures faced with a Pandemic figure throughout The Monster at our Door: The Global Threat of Avian Flu (2005); these prophecies were fulfilled. Evil Paradises: Dreamworlds of Neoliberalism (anth 2007) with Daniel Bertrand Monk anatomizes what some of its contributors conceive of as self-serving ideological delusions of the mature West. [JC]
Michael Ryan Davis
born Fontana, California: 10 March 1946
died San Diego, California: 25 October 2022
- Land of the Lost Mammoths: A Science Adventure (Santa Monica, California: Perceval Press, 2003) [Islands Mysterious: illus/William Simpson: hb/uncredited]
- Pirates, Bats, and Dragons: A Science Adventure (Santa Monica, California: Perceval Press, 2004) [Islands Mysterious: illus/William Simpson: hb/uncredited]
- City of Quartz: Excavating the Future in Los Angeles (London: Verso, 1990) [nonfiction: illus/Robert Morrow: hb/]
- Ecology of Fear: Los Angeles and the Imagination of Disaster (New York: Henry Holt and Company/Metropolitan Books, 1998) [nonfiction: hb/James Doolan]
- Late Victorian Holocausts: El Niño Famines and the Making of the Third World (London: Verso, 2001) [nonfiction: hb/]
- Dead Cities, and Other Tales (New York: New Press, 2003) [nonfiction: hb/]
- The Monster at our Door: The Global Threat of Avian Flu (New York: New Press, 2005) [nonfiction: hb/]
- Planet of Slums: Urban Involution and the Informal Working Class (London: Verso, 2006) [nonfiction: hb/]
works as editor
- Evil Paradises: Dreamworlds of Neoliberalism (New York: New Press, 2007) with Daniel Bertrand Monk [nonfiction: anth: hb/]
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