Spark's Tract satirizes environmental extremism
By Thomas M. Sipos
In popular entertainment, environmentalists are portrayed as heroes, developers as villains. But Jack R. Stevens turned those tables in his 2001 novel, Spark's Tract, a satire of environmental extremism that was released in a new edition last year.
As in Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged, the hero of Spark's Tract is a businessman, in this case a gas and oil man seeking to develop hydrocarbon reserves beneath the Sacramento River Delta. His allies include cattlemen, landowners, and a "maverick reporter." Opposing them are politicians, "deep ecologists," neo-pagan Gaia worshipers, and eco-terrorists, who, Stevens says, "want to limit growth, stop use of fossil fuel, and return the landscape to that which existed before the 'European Invasion.' "
Stevens told me that in 2002 when I interviewed him. He explained the genesis of his novel thusly: "Like they say, all fiction is biography, and all biography is fiction. My novel is based on my experiences as legal counsel for oil and gas developers in the Sacramento River Delta area, and for landowners, throughout California during the early 1990s."
Prior to that, Stevens served for six years as Assistant Attorney General for the State of California during the Reagan administration. He wrote his novel to fill a void. "Environmental extremists dominate the popular culture. I could not find a single work of fiction concerning environmental issues that took the side of man, enterprise, progress, and Western thought. So I set out writing Spark's Tract in 1994."
An experienced writer, Stevens edited California Viewpoint during the 1980s ("a political newsletter with several thousand subscribers"), and has had editorials and columns published in the San Francisco Chronicle, Sacramento Bee, and Sacramento Union -- yet he had difficulty placing Spark's Tract.
"The going is rough for a first-time author," Stevens told me. "I tried a couple of Christian-oriented publishers, but God is not the novel's central theme and I got a couple of nice rejection letters. Since I am a professional and a family man, I had little time to market the novel, or send out hundreds of letters to agents and publishing houses. So I decided to stop wasting time and get the book out there myself."
Stevens self-published Spark's Tract in 2001, then moved it to another self-publisher last year.
Reviews were positive upon its 2001 release. Joseph Farah of WorldNetDaily wrote, "This is the novel a lot of us have awaited. Finally, someone has taken on the environmental extremists who would dictate (if we let them) what we think, how we live, what we can own, where we work, what we eat, what we wear, what we drive. Thought-provoking and hilarious."
C.M. Starr, a director for the California Wildlife Federation, said: "Stevens has given us a riotously funny, yet sobering, glimpse of a future that, if we are not careful, could soon be ours. Anyone who loves the earth but wants to live on it, too, must read Spark’s Tract."
Stevens told me that reviews in National Review and California Political Review were also very positive.
Stevens uses the term "deep ecology" to describe environmental extremists, as opposed to sane ecology. "Most Americans care about clean air and water. They like trees and animals. I count myself among them. But there is a dark underside to the environmental movement that despises the works of man and values him to a lesser extent than it does plants and lower life forms.
"Ordinary men and women struggling to make a living and raise families are the chief casualties of environmental extremists who the media have installed as a kind of new elite. Before it is too late, people have to recognize that 'deep ecology' and its adherents reject Western thought, capitalism, Judeo-Christianity, and progress. Our standard of living and values are at risk."
Thomas M. Sipos writes horror fiction, satire, and film reviews. His website is http://www.CommunistVampires.com/