End-of-the World themes never seem to go out of style. In Umberto Eco's wonderful "Name of the Rose", a monastic mystery thriller, the Christian populace is terrified by the approach of the year 1000 AD, when the Devil and his demonic legions are expected to conquer the world, taking possession of human minds and bodies and inflicting unspeakable sufferings, only to be overthrown at the last moment by the Second Coming of Christ. Each age seems to be infected by its own form of inhuman devils that bubble up out of the deep subconscious, implacable enemies of mankind, the same existential nightmare operating under various names: anarchist, communist, muslim, protestant, holocaust denier, jew, terrorist and innumerable varieties of deadly heretics whose powers are so dangerous that extraordinary means must be taken by the authorities to insure their eradication. The usual liberties will be suspended, because we must protect you from Satan. So it goes.
The Second Coming of Christ. Global warming. Communist World Domination. The Great Depression. Asteroid Collision. Nuclear War. Accelerator-produced black holes. A new Black Plague. And on top of the upcoming catastrophes we're served on TV, our science fiction writers have invented hundreds more ways that human life can be destroyed or twisted beyond recognition.
I've come across so many depressing sci-fi end-of-the-world scenarios that reading sci-fi is no longer a way of escaping reality. Bummer.
Until I tried FLURB. FLURB is sci-fi author Rudy Rucker's collection of deviant inventions by his fellow toilers in the fertile field of speculative fiction. Alternative world are us. FLURB #7 is full of disturbing tales that are guaranteed to shake your mooring no matter how firmly you're anchored in ordinary reality. But Rudy's saved the best for last. The prize at the bottom of the Cracker Jack box is a tale by Rucker and John Shirley called "All Hangy".
Sure it's about the end of the world. But it's a kind of End Times I've been looking for all my life. One conceivable quantum tantric end game is what's depicted in "All Hangy". In "All Hangy" the world ends, not with a bang, not with a whimper, but with...