Drive By Sci Fi #1: “Castoff World,” by Kay Kenyon

The North Pacific GyreNew feature! Every so often, I note something in the news or my everyday life that eerily echoes a science fiction story of my acquaintance.

Since science fiction is all about projecting science and its implications into the future, near and far, it should be no surprise that it’s prescient with a frequency exceeding random chance, if only by a little. It’s also often dead wrong, but it’s fun to be able to say you read a story about the latest market-busting gadget, mind-boggling discovery, or apocalyptic freakout five or ten years ahead of time.

“Oh, that? Saw it coming ages ago, old bean.”

Anyhow, this morning, I read a news report from Great Britain’s Mirror about a ginormous island of trash from Japan’s 2011 tsunami that’s beginning to make landfall on the U.S. west coast. ‘Ginormous’ meaning three times the size of Great Britain.


Don’t be too scared. This is a very diffuse island, a fact the Mirror article obfuscates with a gallery of the 2011 tsunami damage in and around Japan. Hey, Mirror‘s a tabloid. It’s what they do. Reference this article for a less feverish assessment. Also reference the Wikipedia article on the phenomenon, a.k.a. The North Pacific Gyre.

Now, read Kay Kenyon’s “Castoff World,” the wistful tale of a little girl and her grandfather who live on a floating island of garbage in the North Pacific. The story appeared in the 2010 anthology, Shine, which I reviewed here. Kenyon adds a speculative wrinkle—her island is both enormous and dense, the result of technological meddling meant to sweep the Gyre clean of pollution. It also has other…qualities…but no telling here. You’ll have to read the story, and it’s a good read.

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