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Kunstler, James Howard

Entry updated 27 December 2021. Tagged: Author.

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(1948-    ) US journalist, cultural historian and author who may be best known for nonfiction studies of the contemporary American urban and suburban like The Geography of Nowhere: The Rise and Decline of America's Man-Made Landscape (1994), where he argues that suburbia is not only an inhumanely dysfunctional habitat, grotesquely and fatally dependent on the automobile to survive at all, even in the short term. A later study, The Long Emergency: Surviving the Converging Catastrophes of the Twenty-first Century (2005), argues that a decline in oil production, combined with the effects of Climate Change in general, will profoundly shape the Near Future. The premise of this text underlies his sf series – the World Made by Hand sequence comprising The World Made by Hand (2008), The Witch of Hebron (2010) and A History of the Future (2015) – where the Disasters predicted have come to pass. Non-renewable sources of cheap energy having disappeared, the once omnivorous suburbs of America have shrunken into isolated semi-autonomous villages; as the abandoned Interstates rot into the ground, America has become rural again. In the now pastoral Union Grove, New York, new ways of living are constructed against a background of heightened Religious violence. Beyond the fields of Union Grove, America has become balkanized, after models suggested by Post-Holocaust and Ruined Earth novels from deep within the SF Megatext, though here the vision is intricately worked into the overall portrait of life after Technological collapse.

Kunstler's singletons include An Embarrassment of Riches (1985), an historical fantasy where the laying down of the Mason and Dixon line leads the cast into the deep past; The Hunt (1987), which peripherally includes an encounter with Big Foot; and Big Slide (2010 ebook), a play set in Near Future America after a violent political upheaval has imprisoned the cast in an Adirondack "camp" (a traditional term for a summer residence, often huge). [JC]

James Howard Kunstler

born New York: 19 October 1948

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World Made by Hand

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