Hiero's Journey - 4. The Death and beyond

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DId the book's descriptions of people, places and attitudes strike you as reasonable for a setting some 5000 years after a globally destructive war? Is there any way to compare it with The Girl with all the Gifts?

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    Here again, it's a yes and no, I think.

    The climate is warmer - palms and palmettos are described everywhere, even north of Lake Superior. That seems reasonable. If there was a nuclear war 5000 years ago, one presumes a nuclear winter might have set in, but that would be long gone, I suppose.

    The great lakes basin has flooded, which also doesn't seem unreasonable. Southern Ontario and Michigan are mostly under water. If bombs fell, perhaps the St Lawrence outlet somehow got plugged up? Not sure if that's reasonable.

    5000 years seems awfully short for this level of mutation, but I guess things were helped along by radiation.

    Language and placenames are very curious. A number of names have descended 5000 years almost inchanged, like Otwah (Ottawa) and Metz (Metis). That's not entirely unreasonable - there are names in the middle east that have survived as long. The ancient Akkadian sun god was Shamash, for example, and the modern Arabic word for the sun is Shams. The modern Hebrew calender has the months of Nisan and Tammuz, both of which have come down unchanged over at least 4000 years.

    Other placenames: Chespek (Chesapeake), Dalwah (Delaware), Kalina (Carolina). Why Chespek is north east of of Dalwah I can't explain - perhaps because of migration. Neeyana is revealed in the appendix as probably Indiana, or Indianopolis. Manoon is probably from Manitoulin island. Sask is Saskatoon, or Saskatchewan. Beecee is British Columbia. Lantic is the Atlantic.

    North of Superior is The Palood, and at the west end, Namcush. I haven't bee able to find a modern root word for these.

    I'm skeptical of metal buildings and machinery still being around and active after 5000 year, though.

    I have not idea how to compare it with The Girl With All the Gifts. That's an apocalyptic tale. People are evolving very quickly in that story, and I guess have similar mental powers. How did those arise - I can't remember. Was it Science! or Aliens?

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    @Apocryphal said:
    I have not idea how to compare it with The Girl With All the Gifts. That's an apocalyptic tale. People are evolving very quickly in that story, and I guess have similar mental powers. How did those arise - I can't remember. Was it Science! or Aliens?

    As I recall, it was human biological research gone awry, rather than war or external threat.

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    I agree with @Apocryphal with the place names and the like.

    I wonder why the book is set five thousand years after the Death. Why would the story not have worked if it was set a few hundred years after the Death? That would, to my mind, better explain the consistency of religion and the recall of pre-Death artefacts like computers and abbeys. A few hundred years would be long enough for forest ecosystems to recover after any nuclear winter and migrate to where they're set in the book.

    The only thing that wouldn't fit that timescale would be the evolution of the new sentient races, including the Leetmutes. To be honest, that's the one part of the story that most challenged my suspension of disbelief. Why has all the megafauna got so big? Why so many new sentient species? That seemed motivated by tropes rather than consistent worldbuilding.

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    @NeilNjae said:
    The only thing that wouldn't fit that timescale would be the evolution of the new sentient races, including the Leetmutes. To be honest, that's the one part of the story that most challenged my suspension of disbelief. Why has all the megafauna got so big? Why so many new sentient species? That seemed motivated by tropes rather than consistent worldbuilding.

    I suppose one might speculate that the pre-Death scientific exploration included attempts to deliberately mutate creatures, so that the possibility was already active. But I don't think Lanier gives any such suggestion.

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    @RichardAbbott said:
    I suppose one might speculate that the pre-Death scientific exploration included attempts to deliberately mutate creatures, so that the possibility was already active. But I don't think Lanier gives any such suggestion.

    Yes, there's no particular reason given for all the Leetmutes and the other sentient animals. I think the implication is that its an effect of the radiation of the Death. The general eco-friendliness of the book, and the 1975 date, perhaps suggest that this vague implication is enough for the reader.

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    Mutated by handwavium.

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    edited May 8
    For me it was an over the top fantasy world, loosely anchored in our own. All part of the fun.

    There was almost nothing realistic about it- and after a bit I didn't want there to be.

    In terms of people understanding the concepts of 5000 years ago, it doesn't seem likely that most people would. But it's entirely possible that some people would have the specialist knowledge it took, and myths to go along with them- much as today some people can decipher Sumerian cuneiform and rather more people know about the flood and the epic of Gilgamesh.
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    I would say not at all, and I don't think Lanier gave a crap for that. He didn't even try. The apocalypse was an excuse, not a reason. :p

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