Tag Archives: apocalypse

What is John Locke doing in Fallout: New Vegas?

31 Jan

Disclaimer: I don’t know anything much about gaming.  The University of Alabama had this thing called PixelCon last weekend that involved LARPing and Mario-inspired artwork and Wii, and I was so confused I was afraid to walk down that side of the street.  But Kate the Lostie began playing Minecraft this Christmas, and I ended up watching the Yogscast on youtube (“The Shadow of Israphel” series, by the way, is my new LOST).

And that’s an interesting parenthetical comment because while watching Simon, Lewis, and Hannah’s play-through of Fallout: New Vegas, I spotted this NPC:

I can only surmise that this is an alternate universe in which Flocke did get off the Island and bring about the apocalypse.  For real, just compare–

Please Internet, don’t fail me now.  Can anyone tell me whether I’m crazy, or is this some sort of mysterious Lostie easter egg?

V is for Vengeance (Recap: Season One, ABC’s V)

3 Jan

As we all celebrate the last year before the end of the world, ABC’s awesome alien invasion drama is coming back tomorrow night.  But let’s recap: V finished off season one with a surprisingly satisfying finale.  The last scene left us with a major question for next season, to be sure, but the major enjoyability factor was definitely the interesting twists the writers put into a number of characters’ fate lines.  So here’s a look at where our favorite terrorists and alien invaders started off, and ended up on the season one finale of V:

Here’s the recap/review for season one.

Verdict? Luminous and Ominous, by Noah K. Mullette-Gillman

3 Jan

There’s nothing fun about the end of the world–but there might be something beautiful.

The alien “invaders” of this unique science fictionish novel are exactly what the title tells us, Luminous and Ominous, a ravenous plant species with a mesmerizing beauty and a will to live as strong–or perhaps stronger–than any human survivor.  And therein lies the problem for our protagonists: not just surviving in a new world, but preserving their very sense of what it means to be alive, and be human.

I’m a bigger fan of Noah K. Mullette-Gillman’s second novel than I was of the first (and I’m a pretty big fan).  The writing is as mesmerizing as the beautiful alien Cornucopia Blue it describes, and the characters’ thoughts and struggles pull readers along with them just as surely.

Reading Time: On the Kindle, Luminous and Ominous is a little over 5,000 locations, which would make it 500+ pages in the physical world.  But how long it takes to read?  I’m hardly competent to say–it took me a weekend: I couldn’t put it down.

Recommendation: It’s 2011, and apocalypse scenarios haven’t been so popular since Y2K.  So let’s not pigeonhole Luminous and Ominous as strictly science fiction–it’s General Audiences all the way.

Luminous and Ominous is available as an ebook on Amazon for $2.99

Don’t eat the apple, Eve! (review: Luminous and Ominous)

3 Jan

The neon-blue, radioactive, extraterrestrial apple.

It’s kind of fun to think about the world ending.  Survivor‘s on its twenty-second season; Discovery Channel made a hit of end-of-the-world reality program The Colony; AMC’s original series The Walking Dead wowed audiences; and everyone who’s anyone watched LOST.

Of course, nobody likes to consider how completely helpless they’d be, how few marketable skills a college history student would have in a collapsed society where experience in handling archival materials and writing science fiction reviews doesn’t mean anything.  The reality would be terrifying, and truth is most of us wouldn’t rise to the occasion, discover hidden talents, regain primal strength and adaptability.

Most of us would die.

Still, New Year comes around and I’m sure I’m not the only one bopping around humming Jay Sean’s “2012” (we’re gonna party like it’s the end of the world, y’all!).

Henry Willingham wasn’t much different.  When 2012 actually does bring meteorites teeming with voracious violet alien plant life ready to consume our little green planet, he and his friends are positively giddy.  They stock up on toilet paper and pimp out one of those Cold War emergency fallout shelters in an abandoned hotel–and joke about picking up a bunch of girls to repopulate the world with.  “Why was it fun to think about civilization ending?” Henry asks himself in a moment of introspection, “Why did it put Henry in such a good mood?”

Probably because, even as he watched YouTube videos of a woman being eaten from the inside out by, he didn’t really believe it.  The government was firebombing Miami–rest in peace collateral damage; go to hell alien invaders!  And besides, even if we can’t nuke the alien bacteria/plant thingies, there’s always H.G. Wells’s common cold working for us, right?

Right?

The truth is, author Noah K. Mullette-Gillman posits in his second novel Luminous and Ominous, human’s can’t even deal with human-scale disasters (oh hello, Katrina)–how are we supposed to cope with galactic problems?

By 2014, the dozens of people Henry hand-picked for his bomb shelter civilization are gone: it’s just him and two women, Laura and Samantha, and none of them are thinking about repopulation.  Not when they’re out in the alien jungle searching for a glimpse of green, in the middle of Cornucopia Blue:

The extraterrestrial fruit was heavy and thick.  They could smell the sweet juice inside.  Blue skin leaked orange liquid in heavy drops which painted the sticky brown grass beneath it.

It would have been wonderful if it didn’t just feel so wrong.  It was a beauty at their expense, a beauty that mocked them.  Cornucopia Blue was stronger than any life on Earth.  It was healthier, more beautiful, and it wanted to life more than the life on Earth did.

The people who survive the end of the world (as we know it) have a harder task than saving civilization, or even fighting to stay alive: in this book, the real fight is to stay human.

Amidst the glut of End-of-Days books coming out just in time for 2012, Luminous and Ominous is unique.  There are no zombies, or robots, or spaceships, or (as excited I am about V tomorrow) lizard-people taking over the government.  There’s no identifiable enemy, and no way forward for the conquering mentality.  Do we like the thought of the apocalypse because it offers a chance for our imaginations to rebuild and remake the world in our image?  That’s not what happens in Noah K. Mullette-Gillman’s imagination.  Luminous and Ominous is a thoughtful novel without cliches or a deus ex machina victory.  It’s not even about staying alive.

If you’ve read anything on this blog before, you probably know that I’m not a religious person–but I do know my Genesis.  In the Garden of Eden, the first woman took a bite from the Tree of Knowledge and lost her divinity.  When Laura, one of the last women, takes a bite from the alien Tree of Life, she loses her humanity.  As Laura says, fingering a plastic dinosaur she keeps in her pocket, it’s adapt or die.

At what price?

Noah K. Mullette-Gillman’s Luminous and Ominous seems, superficially, nothing like his debut novel The White Hairs, a meditative work of “spiritual mythology.”  Luminous and Ominous is certainly closer to the science fiction mainstream, but I still see a thread of continuity with Mullette-Gillman’s first book: both are thoughtful and thought-provoking, spiritual without ever getting preachy, and beautifully-written.

Luminous and Ominous is available as an ebook on Amazon for $2.99

Reading for the End of the World: Luminous and Ominous, by Noah K. Mullette-Gillman

30 Dec

The Apocalypse is so in.  Not only do we have just one year left before the Mayan End-of-Days (unless the Singularity happens first, which would be epic), but end of the world scenarios are everywhere in popular culture: Justin Cronin’s The Passage was a major bestseller this summer (I was reading it on my Kindle in Greece, for goodness’s sake), and on tv we have AMC’s new original series The Walking Dead.

Whether it’s by vampires, zombies, robots, rapid pole shifting or the wrath of God, there’s plenty of Apocalypse to go around.  Which is why I’m getting out the Kindle for Noah K. Mullette-Gillman’s latest novel, Luminous and Ominous (Nov 2010).  From the book description:

If you had three days’ warning of the end of civilization and a safe place to hide: What would you take with you? Who would you save? And who would you leave behind?

Henry Willingham and his friends have three days to make the most terrifying decisions of their lives. The world has been infected by an inescapable living nightmare of alien vegetation that will replace all life on Earth. They must get everyone they love safely underground into a fallout shelter. There’s not enough time. There’s not enough room for everyone. Who will they save? Who will they leave behind? How will they live with the consequences?

After hiding underground for a year, the last three survivors must brave the otherworldly infestation and travel through what used to be upstate New York struggling for their lives and their humanity.

I very much enjoyed Mullette-Gillman’s last book, The White Hairs, as you may recall, so making Luminous and Ominous my first review of the New Year’s kind of a no-brainer.  Oh, and for another really selfish reason: my self-esteem soared when I opened up (virtually, I mean), the front cover.  On the “Praise for The White Hairs” page, the Scattering got quoted.  I’m friggin thrilled.  We’ll just have to see if this newest novel’s worth praising too.

Scary Good Reading (Review: Bedtime Stories for the Apocalypse)

21 Nov

When I was eight or nine, Grandpa Bob gave me some books from his library.  One was called “The Heroes of Our Faith” or something (I still have it somewhere, but don’t have much need of it nowadays), my first and only hagiography.  Two more were anthologies of very early science fiction stories from the 1920s and 30s–one of them was called Before the Golden Age, and edited by Isaac Asimov.

I’m pretty sure the Before the Golden Age stories were the first place I ever read about evolution, space travel, time travel, and the dangers of “vivisection.”  And they scared the shiznat out of me.

I never read ghost stories when I was little.  I bucked the third grade R. L. Stine trend.  And I didn’t swap scary stories around a campfire (since the only camp I ever went to was a science camp on Catalina Island where we swapped scary stories about the Hapsburgs and their problematic chins).  But science fiction could always freak me out. Slogging through Amazon, I recently found a copy of the January 2003 Asimov’s Science Fiction magazine–the first and only one I ever read.  “Junk DNA” and “Pick My Bones With Whispers” were just too much to handle.

Which is partly why I, though by now grown-up-ish, still got chills reading Joel Arnold’s Bedtime Stories for the Apocalypse, a short story collection just creepy enough to be horror, just dystopian enough to be sci-fi, and just scarily well-written.

At seven or eight pages each, there wouldn’t seem to be much room for character development or world-building–but that doesn’t mean our protagonists and their environs aren’t believable.  Plenty of novels falter because they’re too ambitious, or just plain sloppy.  But Joel Arnold maintains tight, clean prose throughout; and by avoiding superfluous detail or grandiloquent phraseology, he keeps each piece focused.

But that steady hand doesn’t prevent twist endings from throwing the reader off balance and introduce that classic scary story factor of the unexpected.  I can’t think of one in nine that didn’t leave me with an unsettled feeling–you know, the kind that leaves you staring at the computer screen, eyebrows raised, mouth half-open, mind thoroughly disturbed.

And all this doesn’t mean, either, that any of these singularly unnerving Bedtime Sories for the Apocalypse are derivative (although I do wonder if “Mr. Blue” and “Harvey’s Favorite Color” take place in the same sci-fi universe).  Arnold keeps equally firm control of the plot and writing in widely different narrative styles– what a high school English teacher would categorize as first-person, third-person omniscient, third-person limited omniscient, and telephone transcripts.

How can I sum this up coherently?

End-of-the-World scenarios and dark future governments are quintessential short science fiction fodder–but unexpected twists keep the kiss-of-death cliche far, far away.

Almost as enjoyable as the stories themselves is the author’s strong, clear, clean, controlled, engaging, and just possibly flawless writing style.

Finally, if someday I give my faithful Kindle 2 to a nerdy, socially awkward grandchild, she would definitely sleep a little less restfully that night.  But more importantly–the dark visions of the future the reader sticks her toe into in this short story collection would make her think.  And that’s what scary good sci-fi is all about.

***

Bedtime Stories for the Apocalypse is available as an ebook on Amazon for $1.79.

***

Special Note for the In-Crowd: If “Ben Cleaver” is based off the author (I didn’t spot a “No character in this book is based off any person living or dead…” disclaimer), fear not!  “Narcissus” has another link to himself on the ‘Net as of today.  Mort, man–you rock.

Speaking of the Apocalypse

6 Nov

I’m a happy futurist, but sometimes I wonder…

It’s a Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood (The Colony, 2.3)

23 Aug

Or at least, for the first time since the Yellow Armband Gang struck—snatching their cache of government meds, laying a beat down with some seriously brutal metal pipe action, and misting our virus-wary heroes with pepper spray—the Colonists have neighbors.

Amber (a 31-year-old logger) and Michael (a 33-year-old anatomy instructor) appeared on the post-apocalyptic landscape with their hands raised and no CAUTION tape insignia in sight, in episode 2.3 “Trust.”  Nevertheless, after their rather chaotic first week the Colonists weren’t about to give up the Us versus Them mentality.  Or to put it in LOST terms—it’s another case of not knowing when to trust the Others.

Naturally, paranoia ensues.

Jim in particular wasn’t about to play Mr. Rogers.  The most vocal Christian among the volunteers, Jim hasn’t said much about Jesus since he last tried to be the good Samaritan—offering water and powered milk and water to a guy who turned out to be the yellow armband warlord and, literally, getting burned after.

When Michael and Amber start to scavenge on the Colony grounds without permission, breaking the 12-hour quarantine rule, Jim has to be restrained by Reno as he calls for his knife and shouts: “I’ll cut you up into a million pieces.”

As Reno says: “He doesn’t have the social skills to deal with situation like that, and it shows.”

As I say: Jim’s gone batshit crazy.

This might be the strangest thing about The Colony—the disconnect between what seems normal in our world and what seems normal in theirs.  When diplomacy transitions to suspicion, fear, and hostility, Reno’s less horrified than vaguely irked.  Jim’s actions are almost understandable in a situation where no one trusts each other.

“We have two more people fighting for the last beans, last berries, last… snake,” he explains.

And of course, there’s the ever-present threat of contracting Nuclear Flu.  Our survivors are not, after all, Will Smith in I Am Legend—they were quarantined in a government camp.  Part of the major conflict between newcomers Amber and Michael and the Colonists is whether or not the logger and the teacher actually went through the VOPA decontamination process like they claim.

Clever troublemakers that they are, Discovery Channel’s Colony producers didn’t put Amber and Michael through the same pre-taping process that the Colonists experienced (72-hours of quarantine, each in his or her own room).  These Others shared a tent, for less than 36 hours.  (What happens next?  Jim freaks out.)  But of course, they n00bs are wary too:

You could be the bad guys,” Amber says, when Jack and Kate—I’m sorry, Reno and Sally—try to calm things down after Jim’s meltdown.

Adding to the stressed atmosphere is the fact that resources are already strained.  The Colonists originally had six days’ worth of food.  After stretching it to last two weeks, they’re getting pretty hungry.  Maybe emaciated’s a better word.

In 11 days, mad inventor George lost 23 pounds.  Reno, who didn’t have any flab to spare to begin with, lost 13 (and gained a scruffy beard).  Sally’s down 10—and as we know from watching Biggest Loser, it’s harder for women to lose weight… unless it’s Armageddon, I guess.  Jim dropped 24 (half of those probably from screaming), and by day 11 Deville’s minus 14.  Unfortunately, the seven decades under his belt aren’t going to keep those pants from slipping.

Of course, despite the reality of the situation (ie: starvation), the gang’s favorite pastime seems to be daydreaming (or in Becka’s case—really dreaming) about the food they miss from the time before society collapsed.  Deville, in particular, grieves for “soft-whip” ice cream and smoothies.  Or as Becka says:

“I miss… my life the most.”

The hard-nosed, tough-minded Reno, of course, is the one to spoil the party, bringing everyone back to the realization that this is life now: “I think as a group we need to stop talking about all this crap and start thinking about things that we’ve done good here, and keep moving forward”

It’s a live together, die alone sort of thing.

Which brings us to this week’s Colony projects:

Optimistically assuming that they’ll be able to catch game out in the bayou (wild boars, anyone?), Reno works on a smokehouse.  Without refrigeration, there’s no way for cold storage—drying and smoking meat seems the best bet.

In a similarly practical vein, George takes up the mantle of mad scientist with the successful construction of a forge and bellows—essentially, a giant oven for melting metal.  Mmm, mmm, toasty.  “Right now,” he quips, “we’re basically in the Stone Age.  This will help us move into the very early Iron Age.”

But Deville’s the one who knows his constituents.  Still dreaming of smoothies, he designs and constructs a shower, less strictly survival-oriented than the other works in progress, but certainly geared to raising morale and keeping those psyches strong. “I do believe that cleanliness gives you a little hope for living,” he explains.

And it’s true—it makes you feel human.  Deville, notably, is the colonist most able to keep up that human necessity: humor.  Example?

“I thought those rotten pigs from the truck smelled bad.  But then—I smelled myself!”

All this construction and society-building may be technically interesting to a civil engineer, but for viewers like me at least, it’s a chance to peer into the social order of the neighborhood.  Take George, for example:

Low man on the totem pole for the first few days and first televised episode, the artist/inventor got a bad rap for napping during the day and riding a bike instead of walking.  Personally, I think it was a matter of self-esteem—George was the one who arrived on the first day looking desperately for a leader, a VOPA representative, or a government agent to tell him what to do.

At this point, on day 11, the social structure of the Colony has begun to take shape, and George is an able and willing lieutenant to Reno and Sally.  And George’s forge now places him definitively on the A-team.  If we’re looking at this 10-acre neighborhood in post-Katrina, post-Nuclear Flu Louisiana as something akin to early human civilization, the Toolmaker has instant status.  Quoth George:

“The Lord made some men big and some men small… but metal made ‘em all equal.”

Of course that’s not entirely true.  George, who makes the metal, definitely has some distinction over a guy like Jim, for example, who makes it onto Reno and Sally’s shit list when he nearly burns down the smokehouse.

And I mean that literally.  He’s the one emptying the port-a-potty (and to give a sense of how disgusting that work is, just think: Discovery actually censoredthe torrent of excrement).

Reno and Sally, as expected, share the alpha position fairly amiably.  Reno, for his part, seems to be everywhere—with a hand in every project, as a laborer, not just overseer.  What struck me was the fact that after Deville made his truly beautiful sanitation center, it was Reno who gave Becka permission to take the first shower.

As a team, Reno and Sally work well together.  They’re the two who handle Amber and Michael’s arrival, diplomatically.  They’re in perfect agreement about Jim being a complete loser.  And they organize the exchange when a traveling trader comes punting down the river.

And though Amber and Sally initially have about two-minutes’ worth of on-air power struggle, Amber seems to see how the social order’s established and waves the white flag for the sake of peace.  The white flag being a chocolate bar at dinner (not quite soft-serve ice cream, but it’ll do), and a big ol’ jug of vodka she and Michael had been saving but choose to sacrifice to the trader for the sake of getting Sally and Reno a much-coveted generator.

Booze brings people together.  After that, Sian says quite matter-of-factly: “I think we’re one group.”

Two weeks in, and there’s peace in the neighborhood.  How long will it last?  Until the credits start to roll and we get, for our preview of coming attractions, Jim in the abandoned industrial zone fighting off two guys in Dharma jumpsuits.

No more Mr. Nice Guy, I guess.  And definitely no Mr. Rogers.

Asimov and Machiavelli: Go Team Pragmatism!

23 Jan

As his Wikipedia article will tell you, sci-fi legend Isaac Asimov’s books have been published in nine out of ten categories of the Dewey Decimal System: everything but the 100s, philosophy.

That’s hardly surprising, considering that he wrote over 470 books.  That’s more than 6.5 books a year, assuming he began pounding on that typewriter in 1920, as an infant.  But you know, considering his resume, I wouldn’t be too surprised about that either.

And so, having finished Asimov’s and Robert Silverberg’s Nightfall this afternoon, I’m compelled to make the argument that Asimov deserves that tenth spot from Melvil Dewey: placed next to Asimov’s Foundation series Nightfall displays a striking similarity, and that in the philosophical realm.

It’s called Pragmatism.

As a formal philosophy, Pragmatism was developed primarily by William James and another Dewey (John)—but it could be argued just as well that Niccolo Machiavelli was one of the very original proponents, all the way back the 16th century.  With his political treatise The Prince, Florence’s most infamous son laid the foundations for political science as we know it.

And while “Machiavellian” has become synonymous for cunning, deceit, and unscrupulous manipulation (also a byword for such as LOST’s Ben Linus and Gormenghast’s Steerpike—look it up; Mervyn Peake needs to get some readers this side of the pond), the ultimate intention of The Prince isn’t to be a guidebook for aspiring megalomaniacs.  It’s simply pragmatic: meaning, basically, that what’s true is what works.

That’s a strange definition at first read.  But the Pragmatist relies on a re-working of what we mean by the word “truth.”  Truth, conventionally conceived, is something we discover in a dusty library perusing ancient documents, or on a mountaintop communing with the divine, or paging through Wikipedia.  It’s something immutable, unchanging, and something that can be determined objectively.  It’s what correctly describes reality (formally, by the way, this is called the “Correspondence Theory of Truth,” but no one really needs to know that unless they have an upcoming dinner party to sound pretentious at or something).

The Pragmatist rejects this concept of truth.  Science shows us, after all, that theories are always being contested, revised, and contested again—it’s why we eschew attaching the word “law” even to the works of Newton or Einstein.  Science isn’t about dogma.  And that—quoth the Niccolo Machiavelli inside the Pragmatist—is why, when it comes to searching for “truth,” we should be more like scientists.  Truth doesn’t come by research or revelation, but rather by experiment.  We test, tinker, and investigate a question until we find something that works.  We’re actors in the world, after all—not passive observers.  The “truth” should facilitate successful action in the world: it has to be practical.

So let’s be semi-scientific for a moment:

Quantum theory is absolutely mind-boggling (at least for a layperson like myself): it confuses cause and effect, posits zombie cats both alive and dead at the same time, and raises the metaphysically bothersome proposition of an observer-created reality—but it works.  The predictions of quantum mechanics have been validated as extraordinarily accurate.  And so, for now, it’s true.

Which brings us back to Asimov (and if you haven’t read either Foundation or the novelization of “Nightfall,” then please be warned: thar be spoilers yonder)—

Asimov’s novels are filled with tough-minded pragmatists making horrifying decisions in horrifying circumstances about the horrifying future of humanity—usually against their deepest convictions and consciences.  The reasons tend to be pragmatic.

Take Captain Golan Trevize of Foundation and Earth (who I gleefully lambasted in my very first blog post, so long, long ago):

Trevize is the consummate individualist, something of a space cowboy who might have provided inspiration for the rebel pseudo-criminal Captain Malcolm Reynolds of Joss Whedon’s cult hit Firefly.  Trevize does, after all, kind of steal a Foundation cruiser, and he rejects with every ounce of his being the idea that the course of humankind’s future has been predetermined by the psychohistorical predictions and guidance of the ancient mathematician Hari Seldon and his secret planet of followers.  For Trevize, free will is everything.

The stakes only get higher when he learns that part of that planned course involves a friggin’ creepy galactic hive mind, Gaia.  “A superorganism,” Bantam’s back book cover explains:

“Gaia is a holistic planet with a common consciousness so intensely united that every dewdrop, every pebble, every being, can speak for all—and feel for all.  It is a realm in which privacy is not only undesirable, it is incomprehensible.”

The prospect, for Trevize, is repulsive (as it would be for those of us who abhor the Borg—which, too, was terrorizing one Captain Picard and co. in the mid-1980s, as well as science fiction’s other Cold War kids).  And yet—he picks it.  Trevize alone (by some plot twist I still don’t fully comprehend) can choose or derail this future, and for the sake of species-wide unity in the face of possible extraterrestrial invasion, decides that the horror of total absorption of the individual is better than total annihilation of the species—though honestly, I will seriously debate this point, and I’ve got Mal Reynolds at my back.  In any case, former ideals are suppressed, and Golan Trevize does what he sees as most practical, damn him.

It’s a similar choice Theremon 762 of Kalgash has to face in Nightfall.  The novel, based on Asimov’s legendary short story of the same name—possibly the most famous short story of the entire genre—imagines a world in which six suns in the sky make Darkness unnatural and completely unimaginable, mentioned only in enigmatic texts of a creepy religious cult, the Apostles of Flame.  According to the Apostles, their incomprehensible Book of Revelation, and their steely-eyed leader Folimun, Darkness will descend every 2,049 years—one nightfall per two millennia—when the mysterious Stars will appear to suck out men’s souls.

Naturally, Theremon brushes this off as mystical mumbo-jumbo—even when scientific evidence from multiple academic fields begins to, disconcertingly, back up the Apostles’ claims.  He laughs it off, encourages public disbelief with his vicious rhetoric, and goes completely off the rocker for a couple days when night does fall, civilization does descend into utter madness, and the innumerable Stars unseat him from his cozy little place at the center of the universe.

But our hero’s better off than most—his sanity returns, and he embarks on a quest with a very few other mentally stable companions to reach Amgando, the site of what’s supposed to be a new provisional government.  The goal?  Combat the religious totalitarianism of the Apostles of Flame, who had been preparing for centuries for this apocalypse and are gearing up for world conquest.

Theremon, recall, hates the Apostles.  He hates them with a fiery passion.  He hates them for their mysticism, their anti-scientific attitude, their repressive dogma and creepy hooded robes.  Even if they were right all along.

But still, in a penultimate-page plot twist, Theremon joins them.  “Folimun,” he says of the Apostles’ leader:

“Is a totally ruthless, almost monstrously rational man who believes that the only thing that’s of real importance is the survival of civilization.  Folimun knows that in a time of total madness the best hope of pulling things together is religious totalitarianism.  You and I may think the gods are just old fables, but there are millions and millions of people who have a different view—and now they have an absolute dread of the gods.  The Apostles are in a better position to set up a world government.”

Theremon, for all he abhors the Apostles, can almost admire the “monstrously rational” Folimun.  “I hate the idea,” Theremon says; nevertheless, the most practical route—for the preservation of humanity (or Kalgashity… I’m not entirely sure what they are)—he, not terribly enthusiastically, jumps on the bandwagon.  In a world of logic and reason, science was salvation; but with half the world gibbering lunatics, it’s the Book of Revelation to the rescue.  That’s pragmatism.

Now I don’t know what that says about Asimov’s religious views, but his philosophy’s pretty clear.  So just give him a spot in those 100s, already—okay?

Disclaimer: I am not a Pragmatist.  Really.  I make fun of it all the time here on the Scattering.  But I must admit—I kind of love Machiavelli… him and Thomas Cromwell… and Ben Linus.  Especially Ben Linus.  This a psychological defect on my part, and should not be taken as an indication that I am a Pragmatist.  Alas, alack—how ashamed Ayn Rand would be.