Years ago, five to be exact, I did a post about “Inconstant Moon” by Larry Niven. A full recap of the story can be found here, but I’ll summarize it briefly.
In this science fiction short story, the sun goes nova, wrecks havoc on earth, and a couple spends their last night seizing every opportunity they can before their certain death. Rapidly changing natural disasters change the course of their evening and just when they think their time is up, it isn’t. They survive the night, and are left to pick up the pieces, knowing that nothing will ever be the same. The main character wonders if it would have been better if the world had ended last night, rather than everyone have to face this new reality so full of uncertainty.
Maybe I was catastrophizing when I mentally compared this story to the present day, but then again, maybe I wasn’t. Every time I leave the house nowadays, which isn’t frequently mind you, it’s completed deserted outside. The roads are empty as are the parking lots and gas stations. Everyone is huddled inside waiting for the latest news alert on our phones or TV to see how much worse things have gotten.
The uncertainty level is off the charts. All that I can surmise is that, like “Inconstant Moon,” things are bad, they may get worse, but from now on things will never be the same. The cleanup, if you want to call it that, is going to be exponential. It will not happen over night or even in the span of a month or two. It will most certainly be a while before we regain a sense of normalcy. At that point we may only think of time as being before and after this global pandemic.
Thanks to a recent Top Ten Tuesday post, I was able to look back on some of my favorite classic science fiction short stories and this was one of them. While not all science fiction has parallels to the present day, sometimes it does in uncanny ways that make us reflect on ourselves and the world around us. For me, those are the most memorable stories.
I hope everyone has a good weekend. Take care and stay safe!