Monday, 26 May 2008

After London

Channel 4 had a gripping programme this evening, Life After People; it featured remarkable scenes of the timeline of the decaying structures of a world after a postulated disappearance of people. In a previous post, Underground London, I mentioned Where London Stood, a site that discusses similar apocalyptic scenarios in literature.

In the same post, I also briefly mentioned Ronald Wright's A Scientific Romance. This literary/SF novel concerns an archaeologist, David Lambert, who finds a document predicting the arrival of the HG Wells Time Machine at a particular time and place. To his surprise, it does. Lambert, with little to lose (he is tormented by memories of a dead lover and the knowledge that he has caught from her the same terminal CJD-type illness from which she died) uses the machine to travel to the year 2500, where he finds himself in the ruins of a stunningly-described overgrown tropical London. Unlike HG Wells' time traveller, Lambert has the equipment and knowledge to gradually uncover the history - a mix of climate change, various plagues, and consequent civil war during the collapse of civilisation - that led to this situation.

If you don't mind spoilers, there's an excellent review by James Schellenberg here in the Canadian SF e-zine Challenging Destiny.


  1. I really enjoyed the "Life after People" programme - fabulous computer imagery.

    I often think that mankind as we know them, are not the first time an intelligent species has inhabited the Earth.

    I suspect there may be several "human type" species that have been wiped out in the past history of the Earth.

    The post "mankind" world that was shown in the programme was very like how one would imagine the garden of Eden.

    So maybe there have been many gardens of Eden in the earth's history.

    Just a thought ....

  2. Welcome! Our first comment!

    One of Larry Niven's Draco Tavern stories, The Green Marauder, is an interesting take on this. It has a two-billion-year-old creature mourning the destruction of a civilisation by pollution: a civilisation of anaerobes on Earth, before it was taken over by green slime producing oxygen.

    Life After People did miss out on one point: satellites in stable orbits, and other space junk, would outlast ground-based stuff. (This is one of things Lambert notices in A Scientific Romance).