- Outreach & Teaching
On today’s special bonus Tuesday episode of the Cultures of Energy podcast, Cymene and Dominic share their election season nerves and then have the chance (9:05) to talk to novelist Fred Stenson (http://fredstenson.ca ) about his recent and moving work, Who by Fire (Doubleday Canada, 2014), which explores the history of oil and gas development in Canada through its impact on two generations of one family. Fred shares his own family’s history with sour gas plants, which helped shape certain events in the novel and we talk about the complex legacy of wealth, toxicity and precarity that oil and gas extraction has left in his native Alberta. Fred explains why he wanted the novel to be about trauma and how fossil fueled progress has often been bought at the expense of rural people. But he also explains why he needed to represent the situation in its full complexity, including the efforts and idealism of many engineers working in the oil and gas industry. We discuss the codependence of government and industry in energy development and compare the dynamics of early oil and gas production with today’s fracking and tar sands production. We touch on the history of indigenous peoples’ relationship to oil and gas in Canada and Fred concludes by explaining why publishers aren’t very supportive of novels about oil, which can be both depressing and technical. His point well-taken is that readers need to back up their concerns with curiosity.