EARTH by John Brin... a book review

By Sheik Sebir, June 1993

"The Church of All Worlds" takes much of its inspiration "Stranger in a Strange Land"'s CAW by Robert Heinlein. Religiona and SF can be an odd mixture, but the CAW of SISL isn't the only religious vision in SF. ( CAW appears in at least one non-Heinlienian book ). The novel "EARTH" by John Brin offers another view of religion in the future, if not of the future.
In EARTH, the world has gone through some drastic changes by 2048. The Boomers of the last century have it their way. they spy with their elecronic ears and stare down crime their electronic eyes to stop crime by staring at their neighbors - the Neighborhood Watch of the future. The Net spans the globe and contains most of the information in the World - there is no more secret information, for data can be accessed by anyone, the younger generation evidently forced an end to secrecy in bank accounts, and other hidey-holes the elites of the world and their pet governments hid their secrets in. [So, naturally, everyone has to give up their privacy to get a hold of the nefarious secrets of the Few - just like everyone has to be inconvienced by gun laws that are passed to restrict who gets guns legally, to stop the criminals (who don't obey such laws) from getting guns illegally... ARRRGGH !!

The ozone layer has failed, and most people wear some form of sun protection when going outside -- but not the RA boys !! They take pride in the sores and lesions they get from ignoring all government warnings - preferring not to insult Ra by "blocking the fierce love of his rays." Then, there's the North American Church of Gaia (NoramchuGa), and their Pendants, "which are patterned after the womblike orb of the Mother", who walk around soliciting funds for the re-forestation of South America among other activities. (CAW ?)

Among enviormentalists, two main factions have emerged. One faction wants to make some accomodation with the way things have gone and the other faction (who thinks the first group are wusses) wants to roll back humanity to pre-industrial ways. As it turns out, the latter would require a massive die-off of humanity, which soon will become even easier through yet more technological advances in mass murder. [[ It therefore follows that they would be the first to volunteer to die-off -- NAH !! Just like the self righteous ?@!^# who demanded ethnic cleansing for her eastern European country -- She meant that other people had to die so that she could feel "clean".]]

A scientist was hired to do some "secret" research, and when he was found out, a mini black hkold escaped and burrowed its way into the core of the planet. He is a responsible person who had been used by unnamed others. He goes to an industrialist seeking aid to recapture his escapee. They find another beastie of the same breed loose, and the group believes that it was created by a government cabal that still has some limited secrecy rights. (the winners of the secrecy war).

Soon several accidents begin to occur around the world as the new phenomena proves to be a gravity laser and much more. Sonn competing groups either have stolen or bribed their way into the new tech and NATO-SEATO-ASEAN (the govt cabal) has to publish everything, including confidential correspondance, conversations, and working papers to avoid blame for the now undeclared war and the mass murder the new tech is displayed. Each new faction has some role to play in the ensuing drama.

The faction that wants to die-back humanity takes control of the Net, and uses it to get conrol of both the first set of gasers and a rival set that the rogue financial elitists surrendered to the authorities, to carry out their die-back plan. If and how their stopped I'll leave to those who want to read the book.

The book takes on several of the issues that have come up in the current enviornmental movemant and turns them on their head, and its worth reading what the 'future' has to say about the TwenCen. The idea that humanity could give up most of its technology and still sustain itself is at the heart of the Unibomber Manifesto -- it's utter madness. Raping and destroying the Earth to glom a few quick manmade tokens and favorablely adjust a balance sheet is utter madness. Even as I write this there's a backlash of intolerance and hatred of Enviornmentalists because their activities "destroy jobs" -- Greedheads denuding forests clean for a quick quarterly profit to impress the shareholders and to pay off the aquisistion junk bonds also destroys jobs -- but no one says anything about that - do They ?? Neither do They say much about Republicans kissing Fat Cat Lumber Company's posteriors by selling National Forest timber at firesale prices ! Which, by the way, also destroys steady jobs... Yada, yada, yada...

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