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david poole

    The Ruins of Earth edited by Thomas M Disch Arrow 7th April 1975 ISBN 978-0099094401

    ‘Man is at last waking up to the terrible damage he is inflicting on his environment. The various routes to disaster have already been charted. But the damage still goes on. This collection of stories by leading science-fiction writers – each committed to a human vision of society – attempts to take the ecological inquiry one stage further. To indicate why we are destroying our world – and what the possible consequences for us all may be.’

    Partly inspired by GreyFalcon’s current short story about Duncan the Druid. I remember picking up an old secondhand copy of this quite at random back in the 70s, when secondhand bookshops selling cheap science fiction paperbacks were much more common. I particularly remember one story about a family eating petrol because their food had run out. Another story that I remember really well is by Harry Harrison and would later go on to form part of his novel Make Room, Make Room which became the brilliant film Soylent Green, a true dystopian nightmare. Apparently there are even more horrific stories including a world covered in smog and another where people band together to hunt and kill other people’s dogs, which sounds even worse although I don’t recall that one. The theme of the collection is environmental disaster, which makes it even more relevant today. They were written before the middle of the 70s and well before global warming, fracking or the Amazon rainforests became major issues. There are a variety of authors, some of the more recognisable include Philip K. Dick, Thomas M. Disch, Kurt Vonnegut Jr., Gene Wolfe, R.A. Lafferty, George Alec Effinger, J.G. Ballard and Fritz Leiber. The cover presents a fantastic and unforgettable image of the Earth cracking apart like a broken egg shell. I was really into New Wave science fiction at the time, and liked to read Michael Moorcock’s New Worlds collections and books, as well as J.G. Ballard, his work still remains some of my favourite sci fi. This is after I sued to read John Wyndham during childhood. Thomas M Disch was a prolific writer in himself; his short story for New Worlds, The Squirrel Cage, is brilliant, as is his collection Under Compulsion. I have not really read many of hos novels, although I do remember Camp Concentration and Echo Round His Bones.