Opinion piece on Short Tales from Earth's Final Chapter: Book Four
By Rafael Nery
Science fiction can often mesmerize us with its visions of fathomless explorations, complex and slick technological creations, and social systems of great intricacy and extension. But oftentimes science fiction is at its best when it not only amazes us with arrays of yet unrealized worlds: when, taking a step further, it show us these alluring worlds as deeply rooted in our present, and fully aware of its possibilities. Short Tales from Earth's Final Chapter assumes this task of not merely creating another world, but of making it spring out of our present, of extracting if from our here and now. The reality presented in this volume of short stories is a hard, contradictory, cracked, somber and sometimes violent one. The overall coordination by the authors of never fully explaining this world, but instead of offering it by pieces and analogies throughout the stories, involves us in glimpses of this other world, or this world so full of otherness, and plunges us toward inquiring it, toward reasoning ourselves in its own peculiar logic and in this path to find ourselves their own brief inhabitants.
As inhabitants of this world as it is offered in Earth's Final Chapter, we must face its truth: inequality, social unrest, existential boredom and cynicism, alienation, unexpected dangers and also much expected ones. But, so far so good, it is not all done for. If not exactly compassion, the characters that guide us throughout these stories are much embedded in a truly and profound humanity. We find, thus, a world of human struggle, relentlessness and hardship, but also of human endurance, wisdom and kindness. A world where the human itself is put to test. A world in which humanity must redefine itself, and therefore establish the means of its final chapter.
Be it in the rework of the classic noir detective story, in "The Next Peace", which adds to its well-known model a peculiar kind of political irony. Or in the grim vision of a humanity outplayed by its machine creations, which themselves now feel as equally human to us, seen in "The Begetting of Violence". Or in the explorations of isolation, paranoia and disillusionment available in covert Bunker of "Buried Treasure". As well as in the inversion of the outcast and explorers logic, which falls victim to its own carelessness and curiosity: all of these stories work on the way of enlightening latent feelings of our present world through their representation in realities far beyond the ones shown to us today. They express fiercely a humanity that has lost its grip on itself, and that seems to be for long trying to reach hesitantly for anything else to put in its place. Nonetheless, pictures of tenacity or weakness, all those who live in Earth's Final Chapter are deeply human.
Allied with illustrations that capture not only crucial and tense moments, but which also help the furnishing of our characters moods and spirits, the stories presented in Short Tales from Earth's Final Chapter: Book Four are creative formulations for the blank meanders between present and future. Skeptical as well as hopeful, violent as well as contriving, obtuse as well as subtle, these tales are opportunities to observation and reflection for science fiction fans and enthusiasts, as well as any other person who finds it intriguing to simply be, to be human.