29 Comments

  1. This is surely why should there be an actual asteroid, nuclear missile, zombie outbreak, sun explosion, &c, the public must never be allowed to know – there would be panic and mass looting in every grocery store’s upscale cheese section.

  2. Wait a minute: the end of the world is about to strike, and he is setting up wine & cheese in the living room? Given that this is “Arlo & Janice”, I would have expected the action to be occurring in a different location.

  3. Arthur has explained the source of the comic. If you hadn’t heard about the drill, I suppose this would be difficult to parse.

    Kilby makes a certain amount of sense, especially since Arlo is in his pajamas. Presumably he’s planning on moving to that other location. Maybe since it’s only a drill, he doesn’t want to risk spilled champagne, slightly runny cheese or whatever is in that bowl on the bed. Had this been an actual impending asteroid strike, he might have skipped straight to the bedroom.

  4. Like the recent commercial for Jose Cuervo with the world coming to an end and Elvis on the radio singing “It’s Now or Never.”

  5. There was a very interesting film called “Last Night” from 1998 ( https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0156729/reference ) featuring many of the luminaries of the Canadian film and TV industry of the time, and carrying out the “what would people do?” plot. The writer/director Don McKellar I later got tired of in his comic roles, but here he made some fine decisions, such as not bothering to explore the “The military and scientists are trying to save us!” option.

    It’s so long since I’ve seen it that the individual stories have faded, but there was certainly a lot of “hooking up at long last with that childhood crush” . But also other choices, like the gas company executive played by directing eminence David Cronenberg, who sits at his desk, and takes over from the last clerical employee, calling up all the customers to inform them service will be terminated soon (due to the destruction of life on Earth).

  6. I had never seen the Jose Cuervo ad, but it’s uplifting for me. The fact that they were dancing and singing in the face of impending doom instead of panicking left me smiling. Especially when we know it’s coming eventually, if not in our lifetime.

    I remember a science fiction book I read in high school in the early 60’s about a crowded world where everyone had a specified life span, and at the end of that time, they were killed to make room for the babies born that year, also regulated. They all grew up knowing when their end would be and accepting it. Ever since then I’ve wondered what I would do in the last year, week, and day if that were true now on earth.

  7. @Bookworm: My first thought on the sf book you recall is Asimov’s PEBBLE IN THE SKY, but, while people on that earth are subject to euthansia when they turn sixty, I don’t recall anything about births being regulated. You might also take a look at the “Overpopulation” entry in the SFE:
    http://www.sf-encyclopedia.com/entry/overpopulation

  8. “I remember a science fiction book I read in high school in the early 60’s about a crowded world where everyone had a specified life span, and at the end of that time, they were killed to make room for the babies born that year, also regulated. ”

    Logan’s Run?

  9. Thanks for the suggestions. I have no idea what the book was, but Asimov’s sounds likely. I was probably remembering it wrong — I’ve slept since then! But it did make an impression on me.

  10. Thanks for the suggestions. I have no idea what the book was, but Asimov’s sounds likely. I was probably remembering it wrong — I’ve slept since then! But it did make an impression on me. (Apparently I logged on differently, and it thinks I’m new, so this comment will appear more than once eventually.)

  11. The movie “Never Let Me Go” had a plot sort of related to that description; it was based on a book, by Kazuo Ishiguro, probably of the same title.

    There was another one, I can’t track down now. Or maybe just a “Black Mirror” episode. People wore bracelets with LCD-style display of a number — it might have been life remaining, but there was a complication of couples compatibility score.

  12. Interesting article, Shrug, on books dealing with overpopulation. Since I do remember that there was a present-day man who went to the overpopulated world, it must have been Pebble in the Sky, but I didn’t remember that he was projected into the future. Gotta get that book and read it (again?).

  13. I feel like age-based euthanasia is such a common plot we can’t really pin down which book Bookworm is referring to.

    Mitch4, that sounds a lot like the movie “Timer,” where each person had a countdown to when they were going to meet their soulmate.

  14. What I remember most indelibly from “Pebble in the Sky” (and the rest of the prequel-to-Foundation trilogy) was the “neuronic whip”! Oh that was scary!

  15. Mitch4: “Ringworld engineers” had an interesting converse on that: the “tasp,” which could cause great pleasure at a distance. One of the characters used it as a “weapon,” because it was so pleasurable that the person being tasped would stop moving, and then you could threaten them that if you used it repeatedly, at full power, they would become addicted.

  16. @ WW – Louis Wu became an implanted “wire” addict after just a single tasp attack, but he had other contributing factors. The people who carried out such actions were portrayed more as practical jokers than as threatening attackers.
    P.S. Now I’m wondering what would happen if someone tried using a tasp on one of Niven’s “protectors”.

  17. Thanks for all the comments and references that explain this well. This being Arlo, I just thought “asteroid drill” was a term for a technique I was unfamiliar with.

  18. Back in 2012, the movie “Seeking a Friend for the End of the World” came out, starring Steve Carell and Keira Knightley. A dark comedy, it dealt with how people would react if they knew a human-race-ending asteroid was about to hit Earth.

    Arlo’s take on this is, instead of panicking, to use it as another excuse to… you know…

  19. Kilby: The Hindmost uses it in the manner I describe to control the kzin Speaker-To-Animals. It’s not presented as a common use of a tasp; I was only referring to the Hindmost’s use of it.

  20. @ WW – Thanks for filling that in that detail. It’s been years (decades) since I’ve read the book; that scene had escaped my memory. The only Ringword book I still have is the third (Throne), which is only slightly better than wastepaper when compared to the first two.

  21. Almost certainly not the book referenced, as it’s fairly new, but Noumenon by Marina J. Lostetter features a generation ship manned by clones of an original group. As their allotted time is reached, they go in for euthanasia. Part of the book is a young boy finding out that the older guy who he’s friends with is about to die that way and his efforts to avert the end.

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