You are invited to attend the end of the world.
The end could be many things, could take many forms. There are many ways between the whimper and the bang…
In a crystal moment that is at once devastation and creation, you may feel the hands of the Creator. Or his creations…
Our star that cannot shine forever. Its death may come in a blazing inferno. Or a pitiful flicker…
One small, defenseless planet at the mercy of indomitable natural forces. And its own destructive inhabitants.
The admirable, pitiful victims of nature—to survive their own death-wish only to find themselves at the mercy of other life forms more intelligent. Or less…
20 visions of annihilation by science fiction’s most exciting, frightening, and perhaps prophetic authors.
This anthology was inspired by Asimov’s own A Choice of Catastrophes and is designed to illustrate how science fiction has treated the various classes of catastrophe Asimov catalogs in the earlier volume.
The Good Doctor’s own “The Last Trump” is here—not his best by any means, but serviceable enough. It pales, however, compared to some of the other stories present: Larry Niven’s “At the Core,” Fritz Leiber’s “A Pale of Air", Ursula K. LeGuin’s “The New Atlantis,” Arthur C. Clarke’s “History Lesson,” Walter M. Miller, Jr.’s “Dark Benediction,” and Robert Silverberg’s “How It Was When the Past Went Away.”
This is a reasonably strong anthology and makes a nice companion piece to Asimov’s non-fiction examination of the same subject.
I do, however, have a couple of gripes, but they all have to do with how the stories are categorized. For example, in Niven’s “At the Core,” the center of the Galaxy explodes and we‘re left with the prospect of all life in the spiral arms getting fried. And they categorized this as “Earth Destroyed”? A bit of an understatement, don’t you think? And is “How It Was When the Past Went Away” is a “Civilization Destroyed”? I’m sorry, but disrupting life in San Francisco, however significant that may be, does not constitute destroying civilization. Nor does “Dark Benediction” describe the destruction of mankind (just civilization).
I don’t really mind, of course, since I enjoy all three stories a lot. One just sometimes wonders, that’s all.
|“The Last Trump”|