Because most philosophies that frown on reproduction don't survive.

Monday, August 21, 2017


We're in Nebraska, anxiously watching the clouds in hopes that our eclipse experience will not be... eclipsed. But no matter! I've just discovered that an old college friend and family will be watching the eclipse at the same place we will be, so it will have been worth it to travel this far just for that happy reunion. Natural phenomena are all very well in their place, but the chance to see old friends -- that is worth venturing any distance.

                'If the stars should appear one night in
                a thousand years,  how would  men  believe
                and  adore,  and  preserve  for  many  generations
                the remembrance of the city of God?'

Isaac Asimov, after reading this quotation, said: "I think men would go mad." In 1941, he wrote the short story Nightfall, about the effect of an eclipse on a six-sunned planet that only experiences total darkness once every two millenia. The inhabitants are already fearful of the dark, and scientists are excited that they may be able to see the mythical objects called stars -- maybe as many as a dozen!

In 1990, the story was expanded into a novel by Robert Silverberg. The novel is an entertaining read and better written, but the story is compact and effective enough. You can read it here.

I beg of you all not to go mad today.


Catholic Bibliophagist said...

The short story is a classic, though a recent reread of some of the Asimov I loved as a kid really showed up the deficiencies of his style. I haven't read the novel, but I will have to look it up.

Finicky Cat said...

We watched the eclipse this morning through a welding mask - up on the roof. The view from garden-level would have been exactly the same, but since I feel the same way you do about natural phenomena, I figured that taking the kids up forty-five feet above the ground would make their memory of the eclipse more...memorable.

Kathy said...

Whereabouts in Nebraska were you watching the eclipse? We were north of North Platte, and we had lovely viewing weather. I hope that your experience was equally wonderful.

mrsdarwin said...

Kathy, we watched it at St. Gregory Seminary in Seward with a bunch of Catholic schoolkids. It was extraordinary.

FC, I wish we could get up on our roof. Get this -- the eclipse in eight years goes right through our hometown. And yet if anyone got on our roof, they'd fall and die. The neighbors have a great widow's walk, though...

Donna said...

My favorite Asimov story of all time! And I was thinking about it on eclipse day...definitely time for a re-read. I enjoyed your other post about the eclipse. Where I live we had about 75% but the fullest portion got washed out by clouds. You've convinced me that I need to see the whole thing in 2024.

MrsDarwin said...

Donna, go for it! It's not to be missed if you have the chance at all.