Monday, July 07, 2008

Thomas M. Disch (1940-2008)

On Friday, July 4, science fiction writer Thomas M. Disch sadly took his own life. While there hasn't been much in the main stream media, it's been all over the science fiction blogosphere. Here are a few links:
Disch's first novel, The Genocides, was published in 1965. It is set on a bleak Earth where humans are being exterminated by aliens using the Earth to grow plants:
[. . .] the exploitation of available resources by these fast-growing plants causes the soil to become barren for any other crop or tree. In addition, these plants are unsuitable for feeding any animal (except, perhaps, the rabbits which appear to be very numerous in the book), causing an ecological catastrophe. The effects on humans are very drastic: Human society breaks down, with people no longer able to live in cities.

The action of the novel is centered on a small group of people who still harvest some corn and have a single pregnant cow. The leader of this group is a religious fanatic who kills every other stranger in the name of the survival of the group. Their already-difficult life fighting against plants and protecting the small crop changes suddenly when an outsider begins living with the group, bringing news of strange forest fires. The fires are started by alien machines (presumably from the same civilization that sent the seeds of the plants) and finally destroy the group's refuge, forcing them to escape into a cave.
And there's no happy ending. The story concludes:
Nature is prodigal. Of a hundred seedlings only one or two would survive; of a hundred species, only one or two.

Not, however, man.

Some of Disch's other novels include Camp Concentration (1968), 334 (1972), On Winds of Song (1979), The M.D.: A Horror Story (1991), and The Brave Little Toaster (1980).

Interviews with Thomas Disch:


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