The Second Sleep by Robert Harris
From the author of 'Fatherland' comes this very good post-apoc tale. Humanity has reverted to pre-industrial wretched circumstances 1000 years after the unexplained downfall of civilization. The church dominates and has outlawed study of the past.
Plastic banknotes, glass and an iphone are mysterious unknown remnnants of the collapsed civilization. What appalling calamity brought down civilization? Nobody knows. The past is an undiscovered country. In a small remote village various people study a mystery from the past. The ancients of the past have gone down in eternal infamy. Did their hubris cause society to collapse? Finding out is forever impossible.
Medicine and knowledge is now largely forgotten. What became of the ISS? It's not mentioned. What lead to such a catastrophic outcome for humanity in the 2020s? What caused such damaging consequences? Were the ancients really enjoyably oblivious of the coming fall? Why are people threatned with damnation for wanting to study the past?
There is no going back to what once was. Now the perpetual darkness of ignorance covers the land, due to an unknown seismic transformation. Things are ominious and it ends bleakly. Everyday life is dull normalcy. There are hints of the past which exists only in unknowable ruins. The village is deceptively placid.
People have various personal motivations to look into the past. This was very good. There is no speculative light on the past, only guesses and great uncertainty.
“Fall stillborn to the floor.”
“Not much liked.”
“A history he had never stopped to consider.”
“The ancients' roads were shoddy stuff. None survives in such a state.””
“He is unconcered.”
“He was their Moses after all.”
“The ultimate symbol of the ancients' hubris and blasphemy – an apple with a bite taken out of it.”
The Best Horror Of The Year Volume Eleven edited by Ellen Datlow, part 1
Datlow seems to have dubious taste in horror. Okay.
“Is of course opinionated, which is what one expects from Joshi.”
I Remember Nothing
This Anne Billson story makes no sense.
Monkeys On The Beach
Ugly Americans go on holiday. Bad things happen. What was the point of this?
A dull tale of the veldt written with no discerneable talent.
An okay tale of a poo apocalypse.
You Know How The Story Goes
A take on the phantom hitchiker story. Okay.
Back Along The Old Track
A frighteningly serious folk horror set in rural England. A visitor encounters the odd Sleator family. This was excellent and raises many questions and answers none.
“Comically doom-laden tones.”
“Horribly, coldly certain.”