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Time warp could kill us all
By Gloria Diaz
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Fort Wayne Reader
Every so often I reread a novel called ďLuciferís Hammer.Ē Itís a sci-fi novel, which is not my favorite genre, but this one is well-written, interesting and raises questions as to how well prepared we as a nation would be if electric power, fuel and mass transportation would suddenly be gone.
The novel is about a comet that, at first, will pass close to the Earth. However, the more research that is done on the comet reveals that it will hit. The resulting aftermath provides the second part of the book. The story takes place in southern California, and after the comet hits, focuses on one manís ranch, which is renamed the Stronghold. Thousands of people who were able to get out of Los Angeles try to get into the Stronghold, but are refused. The ones who are let in to Senator Jellisonís ranch usually have some sort of skill or trade, or have arrived with someone who does.
Each time I read this book, I think about how dependent people are on creature comforts and how many would die if someone accidentally triggers the time machine that is probably in the basement of the Pentagon and suddenly transports us back to the year 1850. The lack of air conditioning would no doubt send a few million people into sudden death. I thought a lot about air conditioning this summer, as I almost froze to death at my day job. Even on mild days, people had their a/c cranked as if their lives depended on it. Cars today come with personalized climate control systems, DVD players and all sorts of nice, but unnecessary gadgets.
And then thereís medicine. Itís certain to say that if someone DOES hit the button on the time machine, lots of people will die in a few weeks. Diabetes, heart disease, thyroid and other medicines to keep people functioning didnít exist in 1850, and along with all the suicides, homicides and other problems that will surface because Prozac and Lithium arenít around anymore will mean a few less people than there are now. Come to think about it, that doesnít seem so bad after all.
But it also means no more road trips. No more driving around just for the sake of getting some fresh air and seeing some new things. People will kill each other for the last remaining gasoline and oil. No more fuel tankers. No more jets. And, no more coffee. What is in storage will get used up and once itís gone, itís gone.
And what would have happened to me if Iíd been a character in ďLuciferís HammerĒ? No more computers, so that meant Iíd have to write everything down, by candlelight. That is, if Iíd be allowed into the Stronghold. Would there be any room for a journalist with a warped sense of humor and less than cheerful attitude?
Itís something to think about. The novel is a good escape into the realm of ďWhat if?Ē And it also brings up the point that your average person doesnít know how anything works. We live in the now, and we no longer churn our own butter, or shoot our groceries. We buy our clothes from retailers that have garments supplied to them by overseas workers. A lot of what we buy is foreign, which raises another question: what if the foreigners decide to cut us off? It would be the Y2K scare all over again, only this time it would actually materialize. Naaah. Now that I think of it, we Americans are worth too much to the world. Yeah, weíre violent and a little too full of ourselves at times, but we have way too much money to be ignored. Would China dare to cut off a country that spends too much time at discount retailers, and is well-enough off to shop as a form of recreation? No. The world may hate us, but they sure love our money. Now, if we can just come up with an effective shield against comets and meteors, we should be set.