Review of Stewart and Shiel

The SF Site does a tandem review of M. P. Shiel's The Purple Cloud and George R. Stewart's The Earth Abides.



The Long, Loud Silence, Wilson Tucker, 1952

World Without Men, Eric Charles Maine, 1958

It's five thousand years in the future and the Earth is populated with only women. "There was one all-important project that supplied humanity's only motive for continued existence--the struggle to re-create the male sex." This is the novel that launched as thousand women's studies theses.

It's odd to think that a world without men would lead to silver lipstick, overstarched and functionless dickies, purple and teal hair, and green eyeballs. And strapless bras that seem to offer no support and can only be best described as "Boob Cups," but do come in such fetching colors as blue and silver.

The tag line: "They had forgotten what men looked like" could really use a few exclamation points.


Nietzsche and The Last Man

A few sources have used the term "Last Man" in ways unrelated to the genre fiction concept. One is Friedrich Nietzsche and his concept of the "Last Man" as the final dissolution of the human will to strive toward being the √úbermensch. Nietzsche's Last Man is content, believes he has created the best of all possible worlds through conformity--the death of imagination, creativity, and individuality. Mostly irredeemably in Nietzsche's eyes, The Last Man is cautious, never taking even the smallest chances and especially not those that could lead to greatness.

"Alas, the time is coming when man will no longer give birth to a star. Alas, the time of the most despicable man is coming, he that is no longer able to despise himself. Behold, I show you the last man.

'What is love? What is creation? What is longing? What is a star?' thus asks the last man, and blinks.

The earth has become small, and on it hops the last man, who makes everything small. His race is as ineradicable as the flea; the last man lives longest.

'We have invented happiness,'say the last men, and they blink. They have left the regions where it was hard to live, for one needs warmth. One still loves one's neighbor and rubs against him, for one needs warmth...

One still works, for work is a form of entertainment. But one is careful lest the entertainment be too harrowing. One no longer becomes poor or rich: both require too much exertion. Who still wants to rule? Who obey? Both require too much exertion.

No shepherd and one herd! Everybody wants the same, everybody is the same: whoever feels different goes voluntarily into a madhouse.

'Formerly, all the world was mad,' say the most refined, and they blink...

One has one's little pleasure for the day and one's little pleasure for the night: but one has a regard for health.

'We have invented happiness,' say the last men, and they blink."
Thus spoke Zarathustra, Walter Kaufmann transl.