Ah yes, creative writing. Sometimes, it comes. Other times, putting crown molding up on a 250 year old house that isn’t quite square is easier.
Stein stood still. “No.”
“An entire race. And you won’t lift a finger.”
“One,” Stein raised his finger to count, “they can’t even save themselves.” He folded his arms in finality as he looked down the canyon at the scene unfolding before him. “Two: They aren’t worth saving.”
“Everyone is worth saving,” said Amarant with profound softness.
Laynie floated across Stein’s mind. Ghosts of the past. In his unfortunate case, he could actually see them. Laynie running down the hall. Laynie, her hands covered in blood, looking down in cool, twisted defiance.
“And if you keep trying? Keep failing? Then every death is your fault. Compassion is often useless and most assuredly a weakness. Let’s say you succeed and they are allowed back into this world. Pride. Identity. The Past. All will keep them still alone and angry. Building tranquilly beneath the surface until suddenly you have a problem. Until you have a problem for every one that exists. And then, then you will be forced to hunt them down and fell them. All of them.”
Stein continued even as Amarant opened her mouth to object.
“And if you let them breed then this self loathing and fear you’ve felt, that is the world. Forever. Never ending.
“Is that what you want? When do the needs of the few outweigh the needs of the many? Is extinction an acceptable solution when nothing else works? Show me the wisdom in that choice. I could kill them all. Every single one. All at a word. A command.”
“Pride… Comes before the fall.”
“Then I fall.”
Thoughts: Exploring the idea of whether or not humanity actually deserves to exist or keep existing is an interesting question. In science fiction, that concept has been played around with frequently. In popular fiction, humanity generally finds a way to survive, proving it’s worth. That theme certainly seems to hold popularity. I can definitely see the appeal.
However, in classic science fiction, often, humanity does not survive. I remember one of my early favorites: Finis (short story), by Frank L Pollack. The light from a super sun in the center of the universe finally reaches Earth. Instead of being an amazing scientific and celebratory moment, the energy destroys the Earth, boiling oceans and melting steel.
Not a perfect analogy, but certainly formative in creating the driving question in my mind of whether humanity should actually survive or rule. Surely, some greater force comes along that we simply cannot overcome. As popular as it is/was, ID4 is certainly implausible, as are most movies where humans defeat an ancient, powerful civilization. Stargate makes that list with the Go’Auld. Star Trek: Deep Space Nine and Voyager both fail that test. Most modern television.
Is there a reason no one tells the tale of humanity’s fall? Is it an unsellable idea? I don’t think so. After all, look at Planet of the Apes. Speaking of classic science fiction…though the movies, again, can’t sell the idea for long and revert back to hope for humanity by the end.
I wonder if you could ever sell a popular, mainstream story where humanity isn’t worth saving? Is A Song of Ice and Fire that? Or will GRR Martin eventually cave? I hope not.
As interesting as humanity is and as exciting and hopeful as pretending we’ll get it all together is, isn’t the idea of eventual demise and the consequences there in much more fascinating? Hasn’t the idea of luck and spirit and will to survive and perseverance become cliche and boring? What if humanity really isn’t worth saving? Shouldn’t that concept be explored? The notion that our best really isn’t very good?
After all, what—other than pride—makes us think that’s even true?