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A Fable for Our Times


FISH TANK:A FABLE FOR OUR TIMES—book #1 of The Critter Chronicles series—is an insightful allegory about the human condition, tackling issues of politics and power, limited resources and climate change. The book provides a thoughtful story about how society makes decisions, in particular those decisions that impact the environment and others around us. FISH TANK is a small book based on a large premise—that story has the power to change the world.

And one thing more!

A FISH TANK Discussion Guide for Book Clubs and Classrooms is available. Click button below to see the downloadable pdf.

Available from Amazon (Kindle or paperback) or direct from Scott , just click!

Author comments

With FISH TANK I tried to create a thoughtful story about how we as a society make decisions, in particular those decisions that impact the environment and others around us. This small book is based on a very large premise—that story has the power to change the world.

FISH TANK has been singled out for many honors, telling me it is making its mark, much to my happiness. That happiness derives not from any numbers count that measures commercial success, but instead because FISH TANK is clearly having an impact in getting people of all ages and from all walks of life to truly think about climate change. Here are a few of those impacts, for which I am truly grateful; FISH TANK ...

* ... has been endorsed by a Nobel Laureate from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Steve Running of the University of Montana, as well as by the world's leading mountaineer, Conrad Anker.

* ... has been called by reviewers "...the ANIMAL FARM for our times" and had said of it, "FISH TANK could benefit young adults in the same way LORD OF THE FLIES benefited past generations."

* ... was named a finalist (!) in the 2013 Next Generation Indie Awards;

* ... has been used as a book-of-the-month club selection by several groups, including by the the Climate Stewards Program of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (now called the NOAA Planet Stewards);

* ... is being used by a non-profit, Our Children's Trust, as part of their mission to protect the earth's atmosphere for future generations;

* ... has a large set of positive reviews on Goodreads;

* ... is being used by schools nationwide using to help students start thinking critically about climate change and the politics of decision making;

* ... was used as part of the Glacier (National Park) Institute program titled: Climate Change Workshop for High School teachers;

* ... was chosen for the recommended reading list for 10,000 person MOOC (Massive Open Online Course) put on by the University of Queensland (Australia); and

* ... was turned into a radio play (!) by members of the Universal Unitarian Church in Amado AZ.

All of this is great praise, for which I am highly thankful. But of these great positives, the one for which I am most proud is that schools in multiple locations across the country have used, or are using, FISH TANK to help students start critically thinking about and discussing climate change and the politics that surround it. Those discussions have taken place in classes ranging from grade school to college. And to be sure, the discussions can be hard. One professor described her students almost coming to tears because of the depth of discussion catalyzed by FISH TANK.

A highly thoughtful discussion guide for teachers and book clubs is available in one version of the book. And it's free! You can download it from the link above on this webpage.

Special notes

I am so pleased that artist Katie Lindberg agreed to create an incredible cover painting and inside line art for FISH TANK. Katie has the unique ability to make other’s imaginings come to life on paper, of visualizing a story and bringing it to us all in her own unique and wonderful way! I so appreciate Katie’s patience and skills in dealing with my meandering requests. I so appreciate Katie’s artistic talents.

Here's a short bio for Katie: Based in Colorado, Katie Lindberg has been honing her drawing and painting skills for a lifetime. Katie explores a variety of media, but largely focuses on painting. She works across multiple scales, with efforts ranging from greeting cards to commissioned art to murals, including a major mural for the Denver Public school system. Since graduating from the University of Colorado Boulder (Go Buffs!), Katie has worked as an environmental engineer, an education and work life that have taught her to pay attention to detail while using her creativity to find solutions and bring ideas to life. Katie is also a budding entrepreneur and sometimes model. A broad sampling of Katie's art can be found at


FISH TANK is the ANIMAL FARM for our times. The two books would make a great pair to teach together.
— Dr. Pete Coppolillo, Ecologist and Executive Director of Working Dogs for Conservation

In FISH TANK, the author represents planet Earth as a fish tank, and humanity as a bunch of talking fish of different species, interests and motivations engulfed in a very peculiar situation. What results is a clever and fascinating fable that provides an insightful mirror on the folly of current human attitudes concerning climate change and global degradation. Some people like graphs and data, the IPCC reports are written for them. But others connect better with concepts, imagery and storytelling, and for them FISH TANK should be compelling. It’s hard not to contemplate if the human species is reaching some similar decision points, and a happy face outcome is not guaranteed.
— Dr. Steven W. Running, Nobel Laureate as a member of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Department of Ecosystem and Conservation Sciences, University of Montana

Fables have been part of human history since we began sharing stories around a campfire. The modern world, with instant communication and based on facts, offers little room for creative storytelling, especially ones that have a moral or lesson attached to them. FISH TANK is a throwback to the times of Aesop with a very modern and imminently relevant message. Children and adults alike will understand the predicament of the denizens of the aquarium and the parallel to humanity as we power ourselves into the 21st century. Take it as a great story, but know that it is real. If FISH TANK gets 10 people to adjust their life style it will have made a difference.
— Conrad Anker, elite mountaineer and author of THE LOST EXPLORER: FINDING MALLORY ON MOUNT EVEREST

[FISH TANK’s] message [is] that the self interest of the few can undermine the achievement of a common good….I think FISH TANK could benefit young adults in the same way LORD OF THE FLIES benefitted previous generations, helping them understand that bad things can happen when self interested people are not kept in check. It might also help some adults see our current situation with greater clarity.
— Peter Cook, High School Teacher, Melbourne Australia

This story of life in the aquarium is eerily similar to contemporary events outside the tank. FISH TANK is a good read, but more than that, it is a story about the forces of greed against the power of determination and collaboration.
— Dr. Cathy Whitlock, Director of the Montana Institute on Ecosystems, Montana State University

Frank and sometimes brutally honest, this is a tale of oppression of the group by the few who benefit without consequence.
— Dr. Robert Gresswell, USGS Fisheries Ecologist

Bischke serves up a cautionary tale both entertaining and dire—a cast of characters we recognize, and a message we ignore at our peril.
— Alan Kesselheim, author of LET THEM PADDLE: COMING OF AGE ON THE WATER and ten other books

This is a great allegory—I can really see the political stereotypes and how they parallel our society. The characters are universally western, not just American. We all know people like the fish in FISH TANK. I really liked that the book did not leave you hopeless, that there is good that will last. I read the book very quickly because I could not put it down! I would love my friends to read it and think the book would be a good book club book.
— Gwen Laurie, former book store owner from Canada, age 78

FISH TANK is a real eye opener! It depicts today's current social and environmental issues in a simplified way eliminating the confusing political and economic jargon which clouds the urgency of these concerns. It truly is a book for all ages because the future of our planet depends on everyone, not just a single generation.
— Brittney Iverson, Marine Biologist

I liked [FISH TANK] ALOT. One of the things I saw was the school culture that exists both at the middle school and the high school—the bully behavior—the trust issues—the respect that is given and missing. It was all there. And on another level, I could see the whole creation, God care, expectation, loss and recovery. It would make a great book club read!
— Nancy Jordheim, Asst. Superintendent, Fargo ND Public Schools

I think that [FISH TANK] was a great read. The storyline was great and the conflict was interesting and made you think about what the creatures could’ve [ done]….For me the moral/message of the book was not to be greedy, to be aware of your surroundings. Greediness can never lead to happiness and if you’re self centered it affects the people around you. To me, the book said that you need to listen to people. Being a know-it-all is never the way to go. Sometimes you’re not always right.
— Annie, student, age 13

FISH TANK [is] a great read for all ages. It has many different layers that appeal to people of all reading levels, from the enchanting characters and plot to the deeper messages that leave you thinking. I was really able to relate the issues and characters in FISH TANK to issues and people that I deal with in my life. FISH TANK leaves you thinking about the role you play in our society and challenging yourself do better. It is a must read for all ages!
— Tessa, student, age 14

FISH TANK demands discussion. As I finished it I wanted to explore the connections and ideas more with someone. Given the concerns brought up in the book, I want to know how it will go for us humans? I am trying to see my place in it all—who am I? What am I doing in my world? How am I contributing to the problem or solutions? Do I need to change? I need to ponder the book’s ending. Is there hope? Does anyone have any control?
— Joan Exley, Community Literacy Coordinator, Province of BC

An important story for our times. Let he who doesn't live in a glass aquarium cast the first stone!
— Otto Pohl, entrepreneur and international journalist

Not only is FISH TANK a page turner, it is an important wake-up call as we head towards catastrophe with our heads in the sand. Even sea-creatures have conflicts of interest, and in FISH TANK we see a story about how those that stood to make short-term gains endangered all life—surely this is the most important story of our modern society. By telling it as an allegory, and encouraging readers to see the parallels with humanity, Bischke’s book could have a profound impact.
— Dr. Raina Plowright, DVM and PhD Ecologist

A fun, poignant exploration of human nature! [FISH TANK] reaches beyond the story of climate change and invites readers to look at the human dynamics that drive so many of the challenges faced by society.
— Kate Burnaby Wright, Ecologist

FISH TANK is an honest portrayal of the social dynamics that prevent us from confronting the problem of climate change. The events in FISH TANK demonstrate that our instinct to survive as individuals is much stronger than our instinct to survive as a species. The story challenges readers to rise above these base instincts and make the choice to face the problem together.
— Natalie Meyer, Sustainability Director, City of Bozeman Montana

[FISH TANK is] a great and important story—one that I hope will resonate with all who read it...It is a good way to talk about climate change and show how just one degree increase in temperature at a time can go unnoticed and have disastrous results. We are on our own to solve the world's environmental problems and we must not listen to nay-sayers who will only realize our plight when the sky comes falling down.
— Tom Vandel, Owner, Les Overhead Advertising

Although found in the fiction section, FISH TANK is truly a non-fiction story of our times with the [xxx] playing the part of the one percent. We can't be as foolish or complacent as the fishes. We can't be in denial like the fishes. Just as the “Occupy” movement has shouted its intolerance for corporate greed and corruption, it's time we do the same when it comes to climate. We need a revelation. FISH TANK forces you to realize just that.
— Kelly Matheson, Program Manager, WITNESS, NYC

I see glimpses of oil executives, or even commercial fishermen who are the biggest nay-sayers on depleting fish stocks even as it is harder and harder for them to catch their limit. People are quite shortsighted about climate change, huh? … Also, Celia thinks the animals would not be so altruistic to not eventually eat the [xxx] when times got tough. I hope that doesn't happen in our world, but have you seen Mad Max?
— Chris Slater, 7th grade English Teacher, and Celia, student, age 14

An entertaining and enlightening tale, FISH TANK is especially pertinent in this age of global climate change. FISH TANK offers an insightful commentary on the way politics, policies, and our social structures combine to create the world in which we live. The reader finds himself wondering, "Is this the world we want to live in, to leave for our children? Can't we do better than this?" FISH TANK is a must read for anyone who cares about the future health of our planet...hopefully that's everyone!
— Susie and Dennis Iverson, Education Specialist & HP Manager

All throughout I interpreted the book to be about oil consumption and global warming. I think it would be a nice tool around Earth Day to get students thinking about these issues….I think the book’s message is many-fold: moral, ethical, practical….[O]ne message of the book is certainly hope and the beauty of human ingenuity.
— Susan Buhlman, Court Stenographer

Reading FISH TANK I was repeatedly reminded of how we wrestle satisfying both personal and community goals; and how the details of human nature influence—for good or bad—complex issues like climate change.
— Chris Mehl, City Commissioner, City of Bozeman Montana

FISH TANK is exactly the type of book that I love to read and discuss. On one level, it is an enchanting story that draws the reader in…I can read it purely for entertainment value. But, there is also a deeper side…that captures the reader's attention and challenges them to think about their own role in contributing to the health and well-being of this planet that we all call our home.
— Jody Ouradnik, Education Curriculum Content Designer

[FISH TANK lays] out the dynamics of making decisions in the face of uncertainty and how power plays and denial can make the decisions so much harder. And there was a real emotional impact…For me it worked well both as an allegory and a story.
— Kathy Brewer, Hewlett-Packard Environmental Engineer

[FISH TANK is] a good story with a message—don’t believe everything you are told and think for yourself! We are all in this boat, tank, universe together!
— Dr. Janet Lindsley, Professor of Biochemistry, University of Utah and Stuart Vandel, Federal Reserve Bank examiner

I loved FISH TANK…The message is at once hopeful while realizing its impending tragedy. It is regretful that everything must be so polarized….Perhaps the children of the 21st century will usher in a renewed sense of collaboration between environmentalists and industry.
— Hattie Baker, Climate Change and Sustainability Consultant

By peer pressure, misleading scientific data, fear, and our own stubborn nature to change, [FISH TANK] clearly shows why most people choose not to believe we have a real problem on our hands.
— Bob Eichenberger, Business Manager, BOZEMAN DAILY CHRONICLE

FISH TANK is so much more than a fable. It is a call to action to everyone who loves life and feels compassion in their hearts. It is a call to action to the privileged and powerful to act on the good within…. It is a call to action to the unions, to the workers, to the masses, who together can stand up to the corruption of the powerful. It is a call to action to the experts and our climate leaders to tell it straight and spread the solutions far and wide. It is a call to action to everyone, not to bury our heads in the sand and ignore what is right in front of our eyes while hoping for that Hollywood ending. It is a reminder to governments not to abuse the trust in which we have placed the well-being of this generation and the next. And it is a reminder, that when inspired and with timely action and a bit of personal sacrifice, we all can make a difference and change our fate, but only if we beat the tipping points. Scott Bischke opens floodgates of feeling for humanity and other species in this important book.
— Julia Olson, mother and Executive Director, Our Children's Trust

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