Kage Baker commented once, “The world ends for someone every day.” A lot of her Company series was based on that observation, and all the sorrow that arises from it. Also, its corollary – that worlds are saved every day, too. We are all unlikely survivors of a thousand Armegeddons; we just don’t know it, most of the time.
By her calculations, she and I had both been living on borrowed time since our second years. That was the first medical emergency for both of us – Kage’s was a bad infection, mine was a tumor. Medical science saved us. It continued to save us over and over, through really quite decent lifetimes; it was only the very last challenge to which it proved inadequate for Kage.
She actually thought that was not too bad. She said, “Hey, I lived past breeding age! That’s success. And I had the offspring I wanted – every book I finished is my child. I get to leave a legacy, and that’s what evolution is about, right?”
Me, I think evolution might be about slightly more than that, but I see her point. And there is the Auntie thing, too; many intelligent species (elephants, dolphins, some primates) spread out maternal care through the mother’s female kin – you get more, healthier, better-educated babies that way. And your own genes are carried on as well, if you help your sibling’s progeny learn to swim in the local gene pool.
Kage was a very successful Auntie.
This weekend, here in lovely Los Angeles, the media is eagerly prophesying yet another Armegeddon. The 405 freeway through the Sepulveda Pass closed at midnight, and will stay closed until dawn on Monday. Ten miles of the busiest freeway in the world is out of commission – how, oh how, will we ever survive? The media dubbed it Carmageddon (I hate puns) and has been slavering over the anticipated chaos for a month. There are journalists from all over the world out there in the Pass, watching the earth-movers and waiting eagerly for the city to grind to a halt.
And nothing bad is happening. The freeways are clear (the only Sigalert in the entire Basin is the Sepulveda Pass itself), the construction project is proceeding apace, and everything seems to be working. Just another End of the World in Los Angeles – apparently, even with advance PR, Los Angeles doesn’t end until it decides to.
My palantiri show me that the scene is orderly and efficient:
The only thing that looks incautious to me is the placement of the chemical toilets. I can find only one, which seems inadequate. Also, it’s placed in the sun with no shade at all – and if there one thing 30 years of historical recreation has taught me, it’s the horrors of unshaded chemical toilets. So there may yet be a splashy disaster for the media to report … but I doubt it.
Maybe a journalist or two will drop from heat exhaustion or OD on bottled water – which will be as sad as losing a rare leech species. The rest of us, though, will just keep on keepin’ on. That’s what life does.
Tomorrow: another bit of The Fog King