Friday, June 01, 2007

Dispersed by the Sun, Melting in the Wind, by Rachel Swirsky

Dispersed by the Sun, Melting in the Wind
Rachel Swirsky
Subterranean Online: Summer 2007

This one I like. This one is a recounting of the last days of humanity on Earth, and it is a bleak portrait. But unlike Qubit Conflicts, Rachel Swirsky deals with humanity, and because of that the storyline of the end of humanity is far easier to follow and make sense of. At first Dispersed by the Sun, Melting in the Wind focuses on events, the last word spoken, the last man, the second to last person to die, the last major art movement, the last scientific discovery. This all ties together. But when the cataclysm hits the story becomes more personal. People die, but the focus remains on that last man and second to last person. The initial survivors are marked by these individuals.
The last man and his son dig their way free, but it takes so long that the already weak child grows weaker. He breathes dust and ash. Once, as they work to pry loose a stubborn boulder, a rain of debris showers down on the son. He seems fine when he gets up and shakes himself off, but who knows what injuries can afflict a malnourished boy?
By the end, Dispersed by the Sun, Melting in the Wind is a moving story rather than just the curiosity piece of the end of humanity that it appeared to begin as. Rachel Swirsky brings a powerful vision of the end of days, one in which the extinction level event is out of the control of humanity, but the root cause of extinction lay entirely in the hands of humans with our petty greed, war, selfishness...

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