Tuesday, 16 March 2021

Another tale from the Further Adventures of Cara Delaggwei by Patrick Gabriel Doyle


Another tale from the Further Adventures of Cara Delaggwei

by Patrick Gabriel Doyle

(see February 2021 for Pt1.)

Communing was always tricky, even at the best of times and after the immense time-scales spent in the denseness of Urth, Cara Delaggwei was finding it very difficult to Open.

Even now, having left Urth and here, in the vastness of space, there was still only silence.

Was there anyone left?

She knew there had to be. But certainly not on Urth.

She had searched and scoured, eventually closing-down and going into a long period of just waiting …

Remembering …

She had gotten to know Urth and in a way it had gotten to know her.

From The Disruption until now, aeons of Urth time had passed. She had spent most of that time in stasis, melding with the planet in much the same way as they had done on Atlantis.

Urth felt gentle but strong; so full of life…

The Disruption of Atlantis had, however, wreaked havoc. Fall-out blasted not only Urth, but the whole System, altering conditions on many of the other planets. The Great Orange Giant now had a blemish: a storm that rages. No longer, the meditative hang-out where so many Atlantean dreams had been born and so many Atlanteans conceived!

Urth was smaller, younger, the destruction, harrowing. Cara Delaggwei had been monitoring and recording when The Disruption occurred. It struck her to the depths of her Atlantean soul. The silence in her mind had been immediate and overwhelming.

What she couldn't understand was the completeness of the silence. Where were the other Atlanteans who, like her, had been on Urth at that time?

When she'd returned to the Main Urth Compound a couple of days later it lay abandoned and silent.

When she saw Atlantis disappear from the sky she knew she had but little time to prepare before the effects shook Urth. Shockwaves would be severe enough – what else would happen she wasn't entirely sure. But she could do nothing except, perhaps, save herself.

Deep underground – yes, that was the place … unless, of course, the whole planet went BOOM!

She found a zaucer at Main Compound, zippy enough to fly to the mountains in double-quick time; nippy enough to negotiate the cave-tunnels.

She razed the whole Main Compound complex as best as she could with only the zaucer’s razerbeam: Nothing from Atlantis could remain on Urth.

She must save nothing from Urth. Preserve nothing. History would record a destruction event and it was not within her essential nature to alter the course of that history.

However, she couldn't resist a few ‘artefacts’, as she thought them, carefully chosen to take deep underground.

When the first shockwaves hit, she felt Urth shudder. Deep pangs of responsibility wounded her heart.

I'm sorry … We are sorry” … she whispered … But why? She didn't know …

When pieces of Atlantis pummelled Urth she was deep in stasis. She did not see the planet burning – she did not see the sky churning. She did not see evolution grasping life from the jaws of extinction.

Aeons passed …

One day, she peeked out. Thick ice had covered the opening of the cave-tunnel. A blast of razerbeam melted it and now the zaucer hovered in a freezing sky.

Ice covered Urth. A bleak, moaning wind buffeted the zaucer.

Cara shivered involuntarily as she wrestled with the stabilizers.

It is not yet time – she thought.

Then, when the homuds came, she began her work.

She knew Urth like no other … This planet deserves life!

She would provide hints: potentialities to become embodied in homud evolution. She could not interfere directly: they must grow independently to survive.

The tools of serendipitous evolution would be there for discovering: Communication, Imagination, Invention, Discernment.

Sometimes she was glimpsed. It could not be avoided …

The homuds spread and as they spread, so also did tales of The Great Mother who lived in the centre of Urth and who was Urth and who could appear almost as homud, but majestic and shining in her Silver disc.

She watched them evolve …

A time came when, with much thought-over integrity, she presented herself exclusively to a male homud. He provided his sperm willingly (very willingly!!) and she was with child …

* * * * *


she was back in the present moment, zinging through space in the trusty zaucer. Zaucers were made for express, inter-planetary travel and only possessed a rudimentary quantum drive; really just a souped-up particle propulsion unit. Luxury it was not!

She ran a quick external scan of the craft and looked 360° around the transparent dome that encased her, wondering if something had struck the craft. She knew, however, that even the smallest piece of space dust would have been diverted by the phase-shield.

Then she noticed … voices … a space … in her head. She had Opened and that space was vast. There were many voices, conversing, chattering … un-alarmed … WhOOOOLLLKKK … She felt herself sucked inwards … de-enveloping … un-enfolding … convolving … blip.

* * * * *


She was still in the zaucer, but somehow hovering above the atmosphere of her homeworld, Atlantis. Tele-networks in her mind were strong. Buzzing. Active. It seemed a normal day in Atlantis.

How, how, how? – She thought.

One voice caught her attention. Tuning in, she accepted the communication invite …

Cara! Yey! Welcome home! How was Urth – are those saurs behaving themselves?’

Unito!Yey! Eh … I'm fine, Urth was, um, interesting” – she pauses –

Are you alright, Cara? You seem a little distant … are you coming in?’

Yes, apologies, Unito. Just tired. Keep a space in the bay for a base-zaucer.”

You came from Urth in a zaucer? No wonder you're tired!’

Yes, I'll explain later … Eh, Unito, how have things been here?”

Good. We are blessed with existence, as always.’

Anything of … erm … note … happened since I've been gone?”

Not that I know of … you've only been gone 14 days. What are you expecting?’

No … nothing … just wondering …”

Mmm … are you sure you are okay Cara? Maybe you should have a net-scan, especially if you've been running around Urth without a suit. I mean, it's a lovely place but … you never know …’

Thanks Unito. I may just do that. I think I went out of telepath range for a short while on Urth … but, then … for me … communing was always tricky.”

Patrick Gabriel Doyle is from Glasgow, Scotland.

For more stories and links check out his amazon page here.

Baby Rabbit


Baby Rabbit

by Chris Morton

Can’t say where it came from. Mummy didn’t buy it, neither did Grandma or Granddad. Had nothing to do with me. It just appeared, this tiny little baby rabbit toy. Soft and grubby. A dirty white in colour, with shiny black eyes, no whiskers, small legs and arms; one ear shorter than the other.

Its neck had come apart at the seam and Mei Mei liked to put her finger through the stitching.

She’d had a few favourite toys. An owl, a monkey, but this one was special because it was the first toy she talked to.

I’d catch her sometimes, having these little conversations, and she’d do the baby rabbit voice as it chatted to her back. Whenever she saw me looking, she’d stop, feel shy, and it would have been easy to make fun, to push her, to say, “Ah, you’re talking to your rabbit?” But I didn’t. Instead I’d look away, pretend I hadn’t seen. Or I’d offer her a knowing smile and let them get on with it, not judge or interfere.

Ahhh, I want some ice-cream,” the baby rabbit would say.

Okay,” Mei Mei would reply.

She’s go and get some pretend ice cream. Tear up bits of paper and later when we got Play-Doh, she’d use that.


Not too much,” she’d tell the rabbit.

Ahhh, I want more,” it would squeak.

Okay, just a bit more.”

Baby Rabbit started sleeping with her before long. “Baby Rabbit!” she’d say.

Oh, yes.” And I’d find it under the sofa, in the kitchen, in a box in the upstairs spare room. “What was she doing there?”


Mei Mei loved Baby Rabbit and Baby Rabbit loved Mei Mei. She was her mummy.

Ahhh, Daddy, Daddy.”

Mei Mei had begun to slide Baby Rabbit into my collar when I was putting her to bed. “Babby Rabbit wants Daddy.”

She wants to sleep with me?”


She’d rest under my collar, head protruding out, but later, when Mei Mei was asleep, I’d slide the rabbit back under her arm.

Baby Rabbit’s crying.”

Oh, what’s wrong?”

Baby Rabbit’s sick.”

I told Mei Mei stories before going to sleep. I’d make them up, stories about big bad wolves and cakes. Baby Rabbit had her own one.

One day Baby Rabbit was in the sweet shop. There were so many different kinds of sweets; green ones, turquoise ones, pink ones, chocolate ones …”

Baby Rabbit bought a big bag of sweets and on the way home thought she’d try a few. Just a strawberry one, just an orange one; another chocolate one.

Coming through the front door, Baby Rabbit was feeling sick. She’d eaten all the sweets. Mei Mei gave her a cuddle and told her to be careful next time, to not each too much at once. She gave her some water and put her to bed. Baby Rabbit was crying but in the morning she felt better.

In my job I started late, so in the mornings we’d go out for walks. To the forest or to the park or playground.

On the last day we saw her, we were by the front door, about to go out when I said, “Oh, wait, you’ve forgotten your baby rabbit.”

Took us a while to find her, but there she was, hidden in a pile of clothes.

Baby Rabbit!”

That morning I was tired so we didn’t go far. I needed something from the pharmacy, Mummy wanted some cold noodles from the convenience store and while there we bought some jelly.


We rode on the electric car outside. Mei Mei bobbing up and down. A passer by saw Baby Rabbit resting on the pavement, picked her up and handed her to Mei Mei.

When we got home, Mei Mei was holding the jelly and I had the noodles and the bag from the pharmacy.

We ate lunch, then Mei Mei went upstairs with Mummy for a nap. She was crying about something and at first I thought she was looking for the rabbit but when I went up there it was all about her favourite pyjama top which was in the wash.

I went back downstairs and almost looked for the baby rabbit then. But I was already running late for work.

It was only when I got home and saw Mei Mei that I twigged that Baby Rabbit didn’t seem to be around. No, not straight away. It was later. Not quite bed-time but I had a feeling. I searched every room in the house. I ran back outside in the dark, retraced our steps from that morning. The shops were shut, all except the convenience store.

You haven’t seen a little baby rabbit toy? Someone handed it in?”

Sympathetic looks from the cashiers and manager. They knew Mei Mei by sight. Probably knew the rabbit too. They could see the desperation in my face. That night I couldn’t sleep.

In the early morning I rushed to the pharmacy.

A little baby rabbit toy?”

So sorry.”

I walked up and down the street. Inside another shop.

Someone must have taken it.”

Back home again, I turned the house upside down. Mei Mei was out with her mummy. I had time. Time to retrace our steps again. I went to another nearby shop that sold soft toys with the idea of buying Mei Mei a new one. But looking at them all … they just seemed so lifeless.

That evening I sat her down.

There’s something I want to talk to you about.”

Mei Mei looked at me, came to sit on my lap.

Baby Rabbit is not here. She’s gone. But she’s okay. Another girl found her. She lives in that girl’s house now. Do you understand?”

Yes,” said Mei Mei. She meant it. She’d taken in my words.

Why did the other girl take Baby Rabbit?”

Because she wanted to help her. She saw her in the street and Baby Rabbit was crying. She gave her a cuddle and took her home and now she’s looking after her.”

Will Baby Rabbit come back?”

No, she lives in that girl’s house now.”

I don’t like that girl.”

No, no, she’s a good girl. She wanted to help Baby Rabbit. Baby Rabbit …” I paused, how to put this? Baby Rabbit’s found someone else? Moved on? “Baby Rabbit is happy, she’s okay.”

But it’s not that girl’s Baby Rabbit. It’s Mei Mei’s Baby Rabbit.”

I know, I know. But Baby Rabbit is happy. She’s okay. She’s not crying.”


I’m sorry,” I said.


We held hands. And it was hard to tell who was comforting who.

Chris Morton is the creator of this blog.
He has released two sci-fi novels,
one collection of short stories
and a few other scribblings.
You can find his amazon page here.

Saturday, 6 March 2021

Beyond Lies the Wub by Philip K. Dick


Beyond Lies the Wub

by Philip K. Dick

They had almost finished with the loading. Outside stood the Optus, his arms folded, his face sunk in gloom. Captain Franco walked leisurely down the gangplank, grinning.

"What's the matter?" he said. "You're getting paid for all this."

The Optus said nothing. He turned away, collecting his robes. The Captain put his boot on the hem of the robe.

"Just a minute. Don't go off. I'm not finished."

"Oh?" The Optus turned with dignity. "I am going back to the village." He looked toward the animals and birds being driven up the gangplank into the spaceship. "I must organize new hunts."

Franco lit a cigarette. "Why not? You people can go out into the veldt and track it all down again. But when we run out halfway between Mars and Earth –"

The Optus went off, wordless. Franco joined the first mate at the bottom of the gangplank.

"How's it coming?" he said. He looked at his watch. "We got a good bargain here."

The mate glanced at him sourly. "How do you explain that?"

"What's the matter with you? We need it more than they do."

"I'll see you later, Captain." The mate threaded his way up the plank, between the long-legged Martian go-birds, into the ship. Franco watched him disappear. He was just starting up after him, up the plank toward the port, when he saw it.

"My God!" He stood staring, his hands on his hips. Peterson was walking along the path, his face red, leading it by a string.

"I'm sorry, Captain," he said, tugging at the string. Franco walked toward him.

"What is it?"

The wub stood sagging, its great body settling slowly. It was sitting down, its eyes half shut. A few flies buzzed about its flank, and it switched its tail.

It sat. There was silence.

"It's a wub," Peterson said. "I got it from a native for fifty cents. He said it was a very unusual animal. Very respected."

"This?" Franco poked the great sloping side of the wub. "It's a pig! A huge dirty pig!"

"Yes sir, it's a pig. The natives call it a wub."

"A huge pig. It must weigh four hundred pounds." Franco grabbed a tuft of the rough hair. The wub gasped. Its eyes opened, small and moist. Then its great mouth twitched.

A tear rolled down the wub's cheek and splashed on the floor.

"Maybe it's good to eat," Peterson said nervously.

"We'll soon find out," Franco said.

* * * * *

The wub survived the take-off, sound asleep in the hold of the ship. When they were out in space and everything was running smoothly, Captain Franco bade his men fetch the wub upstairs so that he might perceive what manner of beast it was.

The wub grunted and wheezed, squeezing up the passageway.

"Come on," Jones grated, pulling at the rope. The wub twisted, rubbing its skin off on the smooth chrome walls. It burst into the ante-room, tumbling down in a heap. The men leaped up.

"Good Lord," French said. "What is it?"

"Peterson says it's a wub," Jones said. "It belongs to him." He kicked at the wub. The wub stood up unsteadily, panting.

"What's the matter with it?" French came over. "Is it going to be sick?"

They watched. The wub rolled its eyes mournfully. It gazed around at the men.

"I think it's thirsty," Peterson said. He went to get some water. French shook his head.

"No wonder we had so much trouble taking off. I had to reset all my ballast calculations."

Peterson came back with the water. The wub began to lap gratefully, splashing the men.

Captain Franco appeared at the door.

"Let's have a look at it." He advanced, squinting critically. "You got this for fifty cents?"

"Yes, sir," Peterson said. "It eats almost anything. I fed it on grain and it liked that. And then potatoes, and mash, and scraps from the table, and milk. It seems to enjoy eating. After it eats it lies down and goes to sleep."

"I see," Captain Franco said. "Now, as to its taste. That's the real question. I doubt if there's much point in fattening it up any more. It seems fat enough to me already. Where's the cook? I want him here. I want to find out –"

The wub stopped lapping and looked up at the Captain.

"Really, Captain," the wub said. "I suggest we talk of other matters."

The room was silent.

"What was that?" Franco said. "Just now."

"The wub, sir," Peterson said. "It spoke."

They all looked at the wub.

"What did it say? What did it say?"

"It suggested we talk about other things."

Franco walked toward the wub. He went all around it, examining it from every side. Then he came back over and stood with the men.

"I wonder if there's a native inside it," he said thoughtfully. "Maybe we should open it up and have a look."

"Oh, goodness!" the wub cried. "Is that all you people can think of, killing and cutting?"

Franco clenched his fists. "Come out of there! Whoever you are, come out!"

Nothing stirred. The men stood together, their faces blank, staring at the wub. The wub swished its tail. It belched suddenly.

"I beg your pardon," the wub said.

"I don't think there's anyone in there," Jones said in a low voice. They all looked at each other.

The cook came in.

"You wanted me, Captain?" he said. "What's this thing?"

"This is a wub," Franco said. "It's to be eaten. Will you measure it and figure out -"

"I think we should have a talk," the wub said. "I'd like to discuss this with you, Captain, if I might. I can see that you and I do not agree on some basic issues."

The Captain took a long time to answer. The wub waited good-naturedly, licking the water from its jowls.

"Come into my office," the Captain said at last. He turned and walked out of the room. The wub rose and padded after him. The men watched it go out. They heard it climbing the stairs.

"I wonder what the outcome will be," the cook said. "Well, I'll be in the kitchen. Let me know as soon as you hear."

"Sure," Jones said. "Sure."

* * * * *

The wub eased itself down in the corner with a sigh. "You must forgive me," it said. "I'm afraid I'm addicted to various forms of relaxation. When one is as large as I –"

The Captain nodded impatiently. He sat down at his desk and folded his hands.

"All right," he said. "Let's get started. You're a wub? Is that correct?"

The wub shrugged. "I suppose so. That's what they call us, the natives, I mean. We have our own term."

"And you speak English? You've been in contact with Earthmen before?"


"Then how do you do it?"

"Speak English? Am I speaking English? I'm not conscious of speaking anything in particular. I examined your mind –"

"My mind?"

"I studied the contents, especially the semantic warehouse, as I refer to it –"

"I see," the Captain said. "Telepathy. Of course."

"We are a very old race," the wub said. "Very old and very ponderous. It is difficult for us to move around. You can appreciate that anything so slow and heavy would be at the mercy of more agile forms of life. There was no use in our relying on physical defences. How could we win? Too heavy to run, too soft to fight, too good-natured to hunt for game –"

"How do you live?"

"Plants. Vegetables. We can eat almost anything. We're very catholic. Tolerant, eclectic, catholic. We live and let live. That's how we've gotten along."

The wub eyed the Captain.

"And that's why I so violently objected to this business about having me boiled. I could see the image in your mind – most of me in the frozen food locker, some of me in the kettle, a bit for your pet cat -"

"So you read minds?" the Captain said. "How interesting. Anything else? I mean, what else can you do along those lines?"

"A few odds and ends," the wub said absently, staring around the room. "A nice apartment you have here, Captain. You keep it quite neat. I respect life-forms that are tidy. Some Martian birds are quite tidy. They throw things out of their nests and sweep them -"

"Indeed." The Captain nodded. "But to get back to the problem -"

"Quite so. You spoke of dining on me. The taste, I am told, is good. A little fatty, but tender. But how can any lasting contact be established between your people and mine if you resort to such barbaric attitudes? Eat me? Rather you should discuss questions with me, philosophy, the arts -"

The Captain stood up. "Philosophy. It might interest you to know that we will be hard put to find something to eat for the next month. An unfortunate spoilage -"

"I know." The wub nodded. "But wouldn't it be more in accord with your principles of democracy if we all drew straws, or something along that line? After all, democracy is to protect the minority from just such

infringements. Now, if each of us casts one vote -"

The Captain walked to the door.

"Nuts to you," he said. He opened the door. He opened his mouth.

He stood frozen, his mouth wide, his eyes staring, his fingers still on the knob.

The wub watched him. Presently it padded out of the room, edging past the Captain. It went down the hall, deep in meditation.

* * * * *

The room was quiet.

"So you see," the wub said, "we have a common myth. Your mind contains many familiar myth symbols. Ishtar, Odysseus -"

Peterson sat silently, staring at the floor. He shifted in his chair.

"Go on," he said. "Please go on."

"I find in your Odysseus a figure common to the mythology of most self-conscious races. As I interpret it, Odysseus wanders as an individual, aware of himself as such. This is the idea of separation, of separation from family and country. The process of individuation."

"But Odysseus returns to his home." Peterson looked out the port window, at the stars, endless stars, burning intently in the empty universe. "Finally he goes home."

"As must all creatures. The moment of separation is a temporary period, a brief journey of the soul. It begins, it ends. The wanderer returns to land and race. …"

The door opened. The wub stopped, turning its great head.

Captain Franco came into the room, the men behind him. They hesitated at the door.

"Are you all right?" French said.

"Do you mean me?" Peterson said, surprised. "Why me?"

Franco lowered his gun. "Come over here," he said to Peterson. "Get up and come here."

There was silence.

"Go ahead," the wub said. "It doesn't matter."

Peterson stood up. "What for?"

"It's an order."

Peterson walked to the door. French caught his arm.

"What's going on?" Peterson wrenched loose. "What's the matter with you?"

Captain Franco moved toward the wub. The wub looked up from where it lay in the corner, pressed against the wall.

"It is interesting," the wub said, "that you are obsessed with the idea of eating me. I wonder why."

"Get up," Franco said.

"If you wish." The wub rose, grunting. "Be patient. It is difficult for me." It stood, gasping, its tongue lolling foolishly.

"Shoot it now," French said.

"For God's sake!" Peterson exclaimed. Jones turned to him quickly, his eyes gray with fear.

"You didn't see him – like a statue, standing there, his mouth open. If we hadn't come down, he'd still be there."

"Who? The Captain?" Peterson stared around. "But he's all right now."

They looked at the wub, standing in the middle of the room, its great chest rising and falling.

"Come on," Franco said. "Out of the way."

The men pulled aside toward the door.

"You are quite afraid, aren't you?" the wub said. "Have I done anything to you? I am against the idea of hurting. All I have done is try to protect myself. Can you expect me to rush eagerly to my death? I am a sensible being like yourselves. I was curious to see your ship, learn about you. I suggested to the native –"

The gun jerked.

"See," Franco said. "I thought so."

The wub settled down, panting. It put its paw out, pulling its tail around it.

"It is very warm," the wub said. "I understand that we are close to the jets. Atomic power. You have done many wonderful things with it – technically. Apparently, your scientific hierarchy is not equipped to solve moral, ethical -"

Franco turned to the men, crowding behind him, wide-eyed, silent.

"I'll do it. You can watch."

French nodded. "Try to hit the brain. It's no good for eating. Don't hit the chest. If the rib cage shatters, we'll have to pick bones out."

"Listen," Peterson said, licking his lips. "Has it done anything? What harm has it done? I'm asking you. And anyhow, it's still mine. You have no right to shoot it. It doesn't belong to you."

Franco raised his gun.

"I'm going out," Jones said, his face white and sick. "I don't want to see it."

"Me, too," French said. The men straggled out, murmuring. Peterson lingered at the door.

"It was talking to me about myths," he said. "It wouldn't hurt anyone."

He went outside.

Franco walked toward the wub. The wub looked up slowly. It swallowed.

"A very foolish thing," it said. "I am sorry that you want to do it. There was a parable that your Saviour related -"

It stopped, staring at the gun.

"Can you look me in the eye and do it?" the wub said. "Can you do that?"

The Captain gazed down. "I can look you in the eye," he said. "Back on the farm we had hogs, dirty razor-back hogs. I can do it."

Staring down at the wub, into the gleaming, moist eyes, he pressed the trigger.

* * * * *

The taste was excellent.

They sat glumly around the table, some of them hardly eating at all. The only one who seemed to be enjoying himself was Captain Franco.

"More?" he said, looking around. "More? And some wine, perhaps."

"Not me," French said. "I think I'll go back to the chart room."

"Me, too." Jones stood up, pushing his chair back. "I'll see you later."

The Captain watched them go. Some of the others excused themselves.

"What do you suppose the matter is?" the Captain said. He turned to Peterson. Peterson sat staring down at his plate, at the potatoes, the green peas, and at the thick slab of tender, warm meat.

He opened his mouth. No sound came.

The Captain put his hand on Peterson's shoulder.

"It is only organic matter, now," he said. "The life essence is gone." He ate, spooning up the gravy with some bread. "I, myself, love to eat. It is one of the greatest things that a living creature can enjoy. Eating, resting, meditation, discussing things."

Peterson nodded. Two more men got up and went out. The Captain drank some water and sighed.

"Well," he said. "I must say that this was a very enjoyable meal. All the reports I had heard were quite true – the taste of wub. Very fine. But I was prevented from enjoying this pleasure in times past." He dabbed at his lips with his napkin and leaned back in his chair. Peterson stared dejectedly at the table.

The Captain watched him intently. He leaned over.

"Come, come," he said. "Cheer up! Let's discuss things."

He smiled.

"As I was saying before I was interrupted, the role of Odysseus in the myths -"

Peterson jerked up, staring.

"To go on," the Captain said. "Odysseus, as I understand him -"

Philip K. Dick should need no introduction. If you are unfamiliar with his work, check out the amazon page here and his Wikipedia page here. This story is taken from Project Gutenberg. For legal reasons the following statement must be included: (This eBook is for the use of anyone anywhere at no cost and with almost no restrictions whatsoever. You may copy it, give it away or re-use it under the terms of the Project Gutenberg License included with this eBook or online at www.gutenberg.org).

Monday, 1 March 2021

Review - After the End by Bruce Golden

After the End by Bruce Golden 

In these crazy, unprecedented, uncertain times it may be questionable whether one wants to be reading a book about the end of the world. Nevertheless, in After the End we have an intelligent novel of epic quality. Definitely one for your reading list.

When the comet Smith-Kim pulls loose from the Kuiper belt and heads straight for Earth, there isn’t much time to prepare for the imminent destruction of the world as we know it. Luckily a small group of scientists have set up the Sanctuary project – a Noah’s Arc of sorts – which has a plan to rebuild and repopulate the planet with plant, animal and human life.

The story does well in avoiding altogether the terror of the comet’s strike. Rather, it focusses on how the characters cope with their strange new barren landscape; in what the survivors do once the devastation has settled. We follow a selection of characters from both inside and outside the Sanctuary as they struggle to make sense of a world where one literary has to start again.

This novel is high on the human element with poignant illustrations of anthropology. It is about relationships, responsibilities and how moral values are tested. There are shades of Bradbury and Jeff VanderMeer and the scope of Dan Simmons, while all the detail is in just the right places; there’s enough science to keep things realistic but not too much and the story is well-paced and easy to read. Plus there’s a healthy pinch of imaginative sci-fi with a neurotic master computer and a few extra-terrestrial surprises as we head towards a thrilling and satisfying end.

A cut above your average apocalypse novel with scenes that will stay with you for a long time after reading.

When a rogue comet collides with the Earth, setting the entire planet afire, there are few survivors. Among them are a submarine crew, an underground sanctuary of scientists, and scattered individuals. Those who do survive, by forethought or chance, rise from the ashes, continue to procreate, and their descendants find new ways to live, create new cultures, new societies, new theologies. In addition, an alien spore has arrived with the comet, and over the decades it grows and evolves into a new form of vegetation that develops a symbiotic relationship with a species of Earth. This relationship expands to become a formidable threat to mankind, even as the age-old clash between science and superstition, logic and faith, continues to divide humanity.