Chris Dietzel may have written one of the most thought provoking books I’ve read in a long time. In his view of the future, it’s not with a bang, or Zombie infestation that the world ends, but something roughly akin to severe catatonia, for lack of a better word.
In the future, babies are born that have no reaction to the world around them, but still continue to grow and survive well into adulthood. Not just some babies, but all babies, in what he terms the Great De-evolution. Humanity just suddenly stops.
Well, not entirely, more like the next generation never happens, the current generation of Walking, Talking, Earning and Learning individuals find that they now have to find a way to take care and find a cure for the “Blocks” which is what he terms the catatonia-like immobile zombies of his future world.
The story is told from the point of view of an elderly lady who was one of the last “living” individuals left on the earth. She, along with a few other “caretakers” around the world, are left to care for the blocks while the rest of the world slowly winds down. It is her exploration of self, and her memories, and her actions that brings us to perhaps question the way we live, and the actions we take. Would we do the same things as Morgan? Would we be able to remember the good times and places we visited in the past, when the rest of the world was coming to it’s close? Would we be able to hold on to those memories as we deal with the passing of other co-caretakers. Leaving us with more and more blocks to take care of, we would have to make the same decisions as Morgan on how to best work to ensure the best possible care.
Morgan makes life and death decisions for her charges, she decides how to care for them, all the while knowing that when she’s gone, there will be no one left for them. The cure was never found, she is alone. How do you behave when there is no one left to judge you, except for yourself? How do you face the impossible unknown when you no longer have anyone to confide in, and to help you understand your role in the world, and what comes next.
Morgan never does find out what the next world holds, but she does do a lot of soul searching, coping with the choices she has made, and letting us all wonder how our behaviour, even if unwitnessed by others, determines our future. Are we always as moral as we would like to be, perhaps we are a little more selfish than we thought, but maybe, just maybe, we’ve done enough for others to enable us to sleep peacefully at night.