“The Man Who Awoke,” Laurence Manning, 1933

“The Man Who Awoke,” Laurence Manning, 1933 – A scholarly banker learns how to halt “life” by shielding himself from the cosmic rays which induce it to move; he also a drug that induces suspended animation.  He awakens thousands of years later to find humanity locked in a generational conflict between Youth and the selfish Oldsters, who wish to cut down a section of trees, which the Youth consider their “inheritance.”  Society has long passed the age of Waste, when fossil fuels and trees were consumed in the name of progress.  Humans live in small villages, prizing sustainability over all else.  When a population grows too large, a small settlement is founded elsewhere.  The obtain their food from trees and fungi and work no more than 1.5 hours a day.  The humans of the future are swarthy and have oddly slanted eyes, almost catlike, but look healthy, though unusually serious, indolent.  They no longer have chest hair or the vermiform appendix.

Comments:  This is the first in a series of five stories that Everett Bleiler in The Gernsback Years describes as containing “a thoughtful element unusual in pulp fiction.”  He adds: “An interesting culture, well portrayed.”  Read in Asimov’s Before the Golden Age, Book One.  Asimov uses this story to comment on the belief that sf is a form of escapism.  “Escape?”  He asks.  “A queer form of escape when it leads you to consider issues of sustainability long before anyone else did.”

Author: Wikipedia: “Laurence Manning (January 1, 1899 – April 10, 1972) was a Canadian science fiction author.”  He was “a founding member of the American Rocket Society.”


About jennre

Lifelong sf fan, first-time blogger
This entry was posted in 1926-1939, cities/architecture/habitats, class/labor/"work", ecology/the environment, generational conflict, international, primitive/civilized, progress/obsolescence. Bookmark the permalink.

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