Relax! I will get to some sort of explanation of the title in due course!
If you ever pause at the top of my home page, rather than voraciously reading your way down my words so fast that all the other stuff slides quickly upwards out of view, you will find a heading called “Blogroll”.
This is simply a list, which is there primarily for my benefit, of the other WordPress blogs that I read with some degree of regularity. It is, in other words, a list of my favourites (or “favorites” if you are American or unredeemably computerised) and you are also welcome to go and browse them too. Just don’t make too many unfavourable comments on MY stuff after you do!
Actually that last paragraph is largely irrelevant because a major part of my regular readership seems to comprise the people who actually write the blogs I’ve listed! This would bother me were it not for the fact that we all list each other in our respective Blogrolls so I do have a chance of garnering some of their readers that way.
I tell you this because I got the idea for this piece from an article I found by Cy Quick, one of this informal group of wise and reasoning beings – or rather from his response to one of my comments on one of his pieces.
Did you manage to follow that last sentence? Good – I’m not sure I did!
My comment was to the effect that a recent news report that Humpback Whales are successfully breeding and are no longer endangered had really screwed up the basic premise of the movie “Star Trek IV – The Voyage Home”. I also repeated a phrase used in Cy’s original article that struck me as relevant – “Earth abides”.
And THAT remark brought forth a question from Mr Quick as to whether I had ever read the 1949 novel by George R Stewart bearing that same title.
I’m afraid I haven’t but I’ve now read a summary of the plot on Wikipedia and I’m really surprised that I’d never even heard of it!
The surprise is down to it being a significant part of a literary genre which has held a morbid fascination for me over quite a number of years:
My interest in this started when, aged about 10 and having exhausted my own library of “Biggles” books, I started reading through my father’s bookshelf and discovered “The Day of the Triffids” by John Wyndham. I was immediately caught up with the variations on the theme of humankind having to rebuild on the ruins of our present technological and energy-squandering “civilisation” which has broken down catastrophically through reasons beyond our control. Or, sometimes, beyond our wit!
And after a few years of reading all of the stories I could find (way too many to list!) and watching anything I could find in the genre on TV and Cinema I decided to have a go at writing one of my own.
I duly thought of an idea for the plot and set about composing it.
Unlike my other “Novel” which, you may recall, has progressed to one chapter in eight years, this one has moved onto two paragraphs of the Introduction and half a page of plot notes! In the SAME eight year period!
The problem is that every time I start doing any research I come across yet another previously unheard of story which, if I continued with my idea unchanged, would undoubtedly have me done for plagiarism in very short order! So it keeps getting modified. And modified. And modified!
It now seems that the only way I’m going to ensure that I’m not accused of plot-stealing is to make sure I’ve read and viewed EVERYTHING ever written in that category. So I have tried to do so, impossible as it is going to be.
To give you an example of what I’m up against, a couple of years ago I discussed my latest variation on my original theme with a work colleague.
“Oh !” he said, “That’s very like the plot for ‘The Last Train’ that was on TV back in the late 90s!”
I vaguely recalled it and when looking it up online remembered watching the first couple of episodes before abandoning it probably on the grounds that there was something else on at the same time that my wife wanted to see. By that time I had given up videoing things like that as I knew I would never get to catch up!
Anyway, now you can see how I got to the title of this piece.
The online article that I read concerning “The Last Train” made references to other British examples of this type of story and amongst the authors mentioned was one I recognised – John Christopher. I recalled his name from the writing credits at the end of the 1984 Science Fiction series “The Tripods” (a post- apocalyptic story, naturally) which was adapted from his series of novels written in the 1960s.
It was not, however, those stories that were mentioned but “The Death of Grass” which I had never read before but suddenly realised was familiar because it was in a box of my late father’s books that I had inherited.
And would you believe THAT took out yet another potential storyline!
So, all in all it looks as though I’ll have to give it up and find something more cheery and original to write about.
Right up until the end of the previous sentence I had absolutely no idea where this article was going or how I was going to end it but the thought of something more amusing has given me an idea.
A long time ago when I used to live just outside Cambridge and could cycle home from the office via three different library branches I used to read all kinds of stuff – still mostly Sc-fi novels but some collections of short stories too.
In one of those collections I found a short story that must be the only example of post-apocalyptic writing that has ever made me laugh out loud.
The story (as far as my imperfect memory can recall) concerns a Californian scientist who has discovered incontrovertible proof that the San Andreas fault is about to cut loose with “the big one” but no-one will believe him or assist him in attempting to evacuate the population from the western side of the fault.
The day before the earthquake is to happen he goes on a massive drinking spree in San Francisco or Los Angeles (I can’t remember which) and wakes up AFTER the quake should have occurred.
Relieved to have been proved wrong he looks out of his apartment into the rising sun only to discover that the quake did happen, California is intact but the REST of the North American continent has sunk without trace into the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans!
I wish I could remember who wrote it so that I can read it again!
Does anyone out there know?