I was thinking about a science fiction story I read in my teens.  Enemy aliens make the sun go out somehow.  A young man and his mother struggle on in an apartment building.  The story lovingly details all the shifts and jury-rigs he has to do to keep the warmth in, to keep the warmth going, to chip off blocks of frozen atmosphere and thaw them.  There is an implausible happy ending, or at least I thought it was implausible when I read it at age 12.

They say that science killed poetry.  They have a point.  But there is a potential for poetry there also.  One could try to create an image of bitter cold, building up the images word by word.  But none of it would be quite as effective as this story going step by step what these lone survivors had to do to survive.  In memory its as good as or even better than To Build a Fire.

I was thinking about this yesterday and then I had an insight into the apocalyptic phrase that right up until the end they ‘were marrying and were giving in marriage.’  That turns out to be a very true psychological insight.  The catastrophe happens but you discover that life still grinds on in fits and starts.  Your mind sometimes runs down old familiar paths.


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