Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Nine Last Days on Planet Earth, by Daryl Gregory

★★★★☆ Epic story, full of surprises

(Alternate History Alien Invasion) LT is ten when the alien seeds fall, and he spends the rest of his life studying them as they take over more and more of the planet. (11,874 words; Time: 39m)

"," by (edited by Jonathan Strahan), published on by .

Mini-Review (click to view--possible spoilers)

Review: 2018.533 (A Word for Authors)

Pro: This story chronicles one man’s life against the background of an invasion by alien species starting in 1975. It’s not “the last nine days of the Earth”; instead, it’s nine days that marked that last of something significant to the protagonist (and sometimes the start of something as well). Here are my interpretations of each date. Love to see what readers think!

1975 Last day before mom left (but first day the seeds fell)
1976 Last day before boyfriend was dumped
1978 Last time he saw cousin Hale, but first time he knew he was gay
1981 Last night of vacation (but first time LT thinks of college seriously)
1986 Last night on campus (but first with Doran)
1994 End of childlessness/start of parenthood
2007 Last day at dad's house.
2028 Last Thanksgiving in Virginia, first time they had a solution to the problem.
2062 LT's last birthday

The gaps between the years are a Fibonacci sequence (1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34, . . .), something that (as the story notes) appears over and over in nature. 

Remarkably, in this tale the human researchers find a way for us to coexist with the alien plants rather than destroying them. With the right bacteria in our guts, we can just eat them.

Few stories feature realistic gay protagonists, so it was nice to see one for a change. I'm not sure how straight readers reacted to him, but I was very attached to LT by the end. For all his flaws, he was a good guy, and his character is one of the big strengths of the story.

Con: The biggest problem with the story is that LT is more of an observer than an actor. It's his daughter who solves the problem of dealing with the plants, not him.

I was disappointed that Doran died without even a mention of what happened to him.

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1 comment (may contain spoilers):

  1. I agree with the rating and the comments.
    Thanks for the math interpretation.

    I thought the start was a bit boring but it got interesting when he was in college.