I’m one of those people who buy books by the armload and then whine because we don’t have time to read them all.
Well, I just got around to reading this one:
WAITING FOR THE GALACTIC BUS
by Parke Godwin
Here’s the blurb:
Imagine two brothers off on an intergalatic Spring Break. When their friends leave them behind on Earth, they’ve got a few millenia to kill before they’ll manage to get back to school. So, as an experiment, mind you, they decide to give evolution a bit of a nudge… And that’s when all hell breaks loose… a little more literally than either of them planned…
So one of them makes the proto-humans self-aware and the other one, feeling sorry for them, gives them the ability to laugh at themselves. The one who made them self-aware becomes saddled with being their God and the one who helped them relieve their angst becomes the other one. To their horror, people don’t die when their bodies do, so the brothers find themselves stuck with an after-life to manage. It all begins to feel an awful lot like work.
The plot of WFTGB involves a 20th Century romantic triangle, particularly the female of the trio, who, like her distant ancestor, needs to be made self-aware. But, having learned from his past mistake, Brother #1 needs to make her smarten up through carefully orchestrated experience, rather than through a sudden goose to the consciousness. He enlists his brother, who knows all the good actors, and voom! the story is off and running.
WFTGB was published in 1988, but its exploration of American Fascism, intelligent people with sleeping minds, political/media manipulation, and the commercialization of just about everything ring truer now than they would have in 1988.
Although it’s definitely social satire, the characters have just enough shading to be real. I found myself caring about them, wanting to see some of them again, dreading the appearances of, say, the man with eyes like oysters.
The writing is wonderful — funny and moving and thought-provoking, all at the same time.
It’s a brilliant book — probably one of the best I’ve ever read. Even Charlie loved it, and I can count the number of books we’ve both loved on the fingers of one finger.
A WRITING PROMPT FOR YOU: How does your main character feel about American Nazis?