Preparing for the Zombie Apocalypse!

zombies-city-and-the-crowdCurrent events not related to science, tech, and/or pop culture are not exactly my forte. But I came across this article in the new lately and could not resist passing it on. To break it down, police in West Brighton NY conducted a raid on a man’s apartment over the weekend. In the course of searching his place, they found tw0 loaded pistols – a Springfield Armory XD40 .40 cal and an American Firearms Mfg. Co. .25 cal – along with 43 loose .25 caliber rounds.

But the twist came when they asked Nelson Quinones, one of the two residents, why he was in possession of these guns, which he kept stashed in his dresser drawer and under his bed. Apparently, the man told police that he was gearing up for “doomsday” or the “zombie apocalypse”. Quinones also had a gravity knife on his person when police searched him in his apartment building’s rear parking lot, court papers allege.

https://i0.wp.com/www.transportationissuesdaily.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/06/Zombies-ahead.jpgAccording to court papers and the District Attorney, both he and Ms. Meritza Hay (who lives with him) face serious criminal charges as a result of these weapons. Both face third- and fourth-degree criminal possession of a weapon, as well as criminal possession of a firearm and possession of ammunition. But Mr. Quinone’s wife also faces more serious charges due to the fact that she was convicted of misdemeanor drug possession in 2000.

But let’s face it: the real issue here is the zombie apocalypse, isn’t it? This man was in the early stages of stockpiling weapons because he knew what was coming! And while his intentions were good, his methods were terribly flawed! So let me address those now in an open letter to Mr. Quinone. Hopefully, it will give him something to think about while he’s languishing in jail…

gun_violenceMr. Quinone, while I applaud your efforts to be prepared for the inevitable rise/return of the living/walking dead, there’s a few things you need to understand. First of all, if you’re going to go the gun route for the zombie apocalypse, a 9mm is really the only way to go. More capacity for your weapon, big enough to take out a zombie’s brain, and far more common. This is important when it comes time to scavenge.

Second, everybody knows that firearms draw the attention of zombies (aka. Walkers, aka. Biters, aka. Zack, aka. Whiskeys!). If you’re planning on having to defend yourself from them, you should be hoarding melee weapons, such as the trusty katana sword, a machete, a truncheon, or just some good old fashioned baseball bats. You really want to fortify that for a zombie fight, wrap some barbed wire around it or stud it with some nails.

See?
See? Way more effective than a gun!

Some riot armor would help too, or just some improvised protection like some leather patches stitched into a suite of armor. Zombies spread their infectious disease through bites and scratches, so something that will prevent them from your from getting grazed would be a boon. And let’s not even get into how little thought you put into the state of your transportation.

Everybody knows that in the midst of a zombie apocalypse, you’re going to need to get the hell out of dodge, so something that can address the special needs of survival on a budget is a must. Naturally, you might be tempted to get yourself a horse since these and other more traditional modes of transportation are fuel-efficient (which is a big plus in any apocalyptic scenario).

zombie_carBut horses or mules are likely to panic at the site of flesh-eating zombies and buck you. What’s more, the presence of unfetid, uncorrupted flesh tends to draw the zombies in your direction. Far better to soup up your existing vehicle into a zombie-smasher with the addition of some floodlights and a front-end plough. I believe the picture above of Robert Kirkman’s zombie car will help to illustrate.

Last, but certainly not least, is the issue of supplies. When police raided your home, did they find a huge collection of fresh water containers, dehydrated foods, C-rations, vitamin supplements, batteries, solar cookers, camping stoves, propane tanks, or signal flares? No, they didn’t! These should be your FIRST priority, not some hand guns! What were you planning – to waiting for the crisis to hit before running down to the mall and hoarding with the rest of us?

Now that's what a storeroom looks like!
Now that’s what a storeroom looks like!

He who plans for the apocalypse ahead of time is always better prepared and more suited to life once its underway. Just ask all those nuts who live in their hilltop communities – the ones who’ve been stockpiling guns, ammo, food, water, diesel fuel and generators for decades. These guys will tell you that now is the time to stockpile for the coming apocalypse. But don’t mention zombies, they might think you’re crazy and shoot you.

But above all is the rather timid effort you put into stockpiling weapons, sir. I mean really, two handguns? Real survivalists have been spending the past few years amassing as many assault weapons, shotguns, pistols, and submachine guns as they can afford and the law will allow. Such popular weapons include the AR-15, Tech-9, Mossberg 590A1, and the Glock 17. And if the law is a bit inflexible in your state, just zip next door or go to a gun show!

zombiegun3Yes, it pains me to say it, buy you really dropped the ball on this one, sir! Now some might say that this was just your lame-ass attempt to excuse owning two illegal guns. But I know you to be a conscientious individual who cares greatly for your and your significant other’s safety. I also know that as such an individual, you want to be prepared to meet this inevitable catastrophe head on.

So assuming it hasn’t come to pass while you’re still in jail (in which case, you’ll die like a rat in a cage), I urge you to reconsider your efforts! Cover the necessities first, then worry about the incidentals. Thank you, and in the meantime, be sure to watch yourself while standing in the chow line. Also, don’t drop the soap. And if you can, find the biggest, meanest, ugliest man you can, and glom onto him. You don’t want to be just anybody’s bitch!

And if my might be so bold, you could read my Whiskey Delta series that deals with the zombie apocalypse, which I am currently working on the third installment for. It’s chock full of survival tips. They do get Amazon delivery in jail, don’t they? NOOOO? Well then, you’re screwed!

Asteroid Misses Earth, Again!

asteroid_DA14Well it seems that Earth has survived yet another close shave with an asteroid. This time around, the object in question was a celestial body known as DA14, a rock measuring 45 meters (150 feet) in diameter and weighing in at 130,000 metric tons in mass. Discovered last year by astronomers working out of the La Sagra Sky Survey at the Astronomical Observatory of Mallorca, this asteroid performed the closest fly-by of Earth ever observed by astronomers.

Basically, the asteroids passage took it within Earth’s geosynchronous satellite ring, at a paltry distance of 27,000 kilometers (17,000 miles). That may sound like its still pretty far away, but to give you a sense of scale, consider that Earth’s geosynchronous satellite ring, which the asteroid passed within, is located about 35,800 km above the equator. So basically, this asteroid was closer to you than the satellite that feeds your TV set. Scared yet?

asteroid_DA14pathNaturally, NASA was quick to let people know that DA14’s trajectory and orbit about the Sun would bring it no closer to the Earth’s surface than 3.2 Earth radii on February 15, 2013. In a statement released in advance of the asteroid’s passage, they claimed:

“There is very little chance that asteroid 2012 DA14 will impact a satellite or spacecraft. Because the asteroid is approaching from below Earth, it will pass between the outer constellation of satellites located in geosynchronous orbit (22,245 miles/35,800 kilometers) and the large concentration of satellites orbiting much closer to Earth. (The International Space Station, for example, orbits at the close-in altitude of 240 miles/386 kilometers.). There are almost no satellites orbiting at the distance at which the asteroid will pass.”

However, they were sure to warn satellite operators about the passing, providing them with detailed information about the flyby so they could perform whatever corrections they needed to to protect their orbital property. All in all, we should be counting our lucky stars, given the asteroid’s mass and size. Were it to have landed on Earth, it would have been an extinction-level-event the likes of which has not been seen since the age of the dinosaurs.

In related news, NASA was quick to dispel notions that this asteroid was in any way related the recent arrival of the meteor above the Urals in Russia. In a statement issued earlier today, they said the following:

“According to NASA scientists, the trajectory of the Russia meteor was significantly different than the trajectory of the asteroid 2012 DA14, making it a completely unrelated object. Information is still being collected about the Russia meteor and analysis is preliminary at this point. In videos of the meteor, it is seen to pass from left to right in front of the rising sun, which means it was traveling from north to south. Asteroid DA14’s trajectory is in the opposite direction, from south to north.”

Good news! We’re not witnessing the End of Days just yet. Take that Apocalyptics! Don’t you people get tired of being wrong? (fingers crossed!)

Source: IO9.com, NASA.gov, (2)

Update on Asteroid Apophis: No Apocalypse by 2036

apophisDiscovered back in 2004, the Apophis asteroid garnered lots of attention when initial calculations of its orbit indicated that there was a 2.7 percent chance that it would hit Earth when it did a flyby in 2029. After running additional calculations based on the asteroids data, scientists were able to rule out a 2029 impact, but there was still a remote possibility that it might hit Earth during another flyby in 2036. However, that estimate has also been revised.

Thanks to the European Space Agency’s Herschel Space Observatory, a number of thermal infrared observations were captured of Apophis at different wavelengths. Taken together with optical measurements, Hershel was able to refine earlier estimates of the asteroid’s properties, which included its overall diameter. Initially, it was estimated to be 270 m on a side but now stands at a robust 325 m, an increased which translates into a 75% increase in its volume.

The thermal readings on the asteroid also provided a new estimate of the asteroid’s albedo, which is the a measure of its reflectivity. Knowing the thermal properties of an asteroid indicates how its orbit might be altered due to subtle heating by the Sun. Known as the Yarkovsky effect, the heating and cooling cycle of a small body as it rotates and as its distance from the Sun changes can instigate long-term changes to the asteroid’s orbit.

All of this taken together, has allowed NASA, the ESA and other space authorities to rule out the possibility of an impact by 2036 as well. Don Yeomans, manager of NASA’s Near-Earth Object Program Office at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory:

“We have effectively ruled out the possibility of an Earth impact by Apophis in 2036. The impact odds as they stand now are less than one in a million, which makes us comfortable saying we can effectively rule out an Earth impact in 2036. Our interest in asteroid Apophis will essentially be for its scientific interest for the foreseeable future.”

But the flyby on April 13, 2029 will be one for the record books, says NASA. On that date, Apophis will achieve the closest flyby of an asteroid of its size when it comes to within 31,300 kilometers (19,400 miles) of the Earth’s surface. And in the meantime, an smaller asteroid (40 meters in diameter) named 2012 DA14 will make an ever closer flyby as it passes Earth at a distance of 27,670 km (17,200 miles).

So people can rest, safe in the knowledge that no asteroids are likely to hit us anytime soon. But at the same time, apocalyptics can rest assured that there will be plenty of remote chances to exploit for the sake of their unusual brand of paranoia. As Yeomans said:

“With new telescopes coming online, the upgrade of existing telescopes and the continued refinement of our orbital determination process, there’s never a dull moment working on near-Earth objects.”

Relaunching an Idea: Apocrypha!

future-city-1Recently, I began to seriously contemplate revisiting an old idea. Not just any old idea, mind you. This was an idea that went back to 2008, to the point where I first decided I wanted to move away from far-reaching, distant future speculative writing. It was also my first real stab at social commentary, predating Data Miners by several months, and which called for a lot of research.

The name I had in mind for it was Apocrypha. Basically, the two threads that came together to form this idea for me were the ideas of Demarchy and Apocalypticism. At the time, the idea that digital technology and wireless communication might one day lead to direct democracy, while religious fervor might actually spike within the current century due to climate change and the social impacts thereof.

singularity.specrepHowever, after a lot of tinkering and writing the story halfway, I found I couldn’t really make the idea work. It was my first attempt to write something contemporary and it really didn’t go so well. I’ve since tried to reboot it at least once and found I could only get a few chapters out of myself. But I couldn’t dispose of it entirely, not after all the work I put into it and all the bits of wheat I felt were buried in the chaff. And so, its lingered in my files for years.

And now, years later and after all the tech research I’ve done, I find myself coming back to the idea. This is due in part to to trends which I’ve been researching in the last few months. The way I see it, by the middle of this century, two trends will be coming together, and its anybody’s guess which will come to determine our future. The one is technological growth and change – culminating in a future of post-scarcity – and the other is Climate Change, which will lead to a future of nothing but!

Megalopolis'And that’s where this story opens up. The year is 2030, and the world is a fast-changing place. On the one hand, mega-cities have taken root in several places, such as the Nanjing Peninsula, the Gangetic Plain, Cascadia, the Northeast Megalopolis, the “Blue Banana”, and the west coast of Japan. Life in these megalopolis’ is increasingly characterized by violence, poverty, unemployment, bigotry, and an ever increasing fast-pace of life due to increasingly advanced technologies trickling down to the street.

Meanwhile, the wealthy and privileged continue to buy up property and move to higher altitudes and latitudes in order to avoid the coming difficulties. It is widely accepted that within the next few decades, waves of immigration and refugees will pour into the coastal and border regions of the developed parts of the world (those that exist outside the equatorial regions that is) and life is likely to get more difficult.

In the midst of all this, a new group is taking to the streets, a group of quasi-apocalyptics who claim that the End of Days is coming. Their message is code-named Apocrypha, since it is really a cover for their more deeply laid plans to usher about something far more sinister. As they say, some spend their lives waiting for the apocalypse, while others are determined to make it happen in their lifetime.

Crashland.ebookThis story was actually the basis for my short Hunluan, which is part of the proposed Grim5Next anthology known as World’s Undone. It’s also the basis for the serial novel Crashland that I began posting over Story Time.me back when 2012 first started. Funny thing, the year 0f 2012 was marked by a lot of dystopian and apocalyptic lit. Maybe that’s why I want to revisit it now, seeing as how we’re in the clear for the time being!

In any case, as soon as Yuva is complete, Pappa Zulu is all wrapped up, and I’m done editing and releasing Data Miners (one of these days I’ll get that damn book finished!), I plan to return to this concept and give it my full attention. There’s plenty of potential to make some predictions about the future and that’s something I can’t pass up! In addition, it was my first attempt at something truly speculative and relevant and I definitely want to pursue that again.

It is my dream, after all, to produce something that capture the spirit of this age, and since Climate Change, break-neck progress, and fears for the future seem to be the dominant trends as I see them, this might just be the book to do it with! Look for it soon, I hope it will please the discerning reader!

climatewars

Happy New Year!

newyearsHappy Holidays folks! I certainly hope everyone is having a nice and relaxing time, although I admit that’s not too likely. When are the holidays EVER relaxing? You’ve got family, travel, last minute shopping, planning, preparations, lots of cooking, the fact that everything’s closed, driving in bad weather, and of course all that concern over the weight you’re putting on!

But in and around all that, I like to think there’s plenty of opportunities for joy and fun, and hopefully some serious swag! Speaking of which, I may have already announced that I got this super new computer! Already, I have given it the litmus test, testing my super-demanding games on it. And they run FAAAAST! I’ve been blowing shit up and firing off guns with the best of them. Next time I play multiplayer, aint nobody gonna be booting me on a count of lag!

And then there’s the little fondue pot I got, which is specifically designed for baking Bries. And some red pepper jelly on top of that, which ought to make for some serious eats! And of course, some much-needed outdoor gear, and some toys for our cat Jasper – who, by the way, hates to travel! And though we love our families very much, we are quite happy to be back in our own place. Jasper is especially happy; he spent the first hour after we got back marking everything. It was as if he were saying “This is mine! And this is mine! And this is mine!”

Also, I’d just like to take this opportunity to rub it in on all those apocalyptic folks. Hey y’all, guess what? The target time and date came and went and do you know what? WE’RE STILL HERE! Seriously, don’t you people get tired of being wrong? Yes, a new year is rolling around is a few days and (God willing!) we can look forward to another year of failed apocalypses.

Hope everyone has something nice planned for the evening of the 31st! See ya’ll in the New Year!

NASA: The World Will Not End on Dec. 21st, 2012

Worlds CollidingIt seems NASA spends untold resources trying to debunk conspiracy theories and doomsday predictions. Sad, when you consider all the wonderful uses this time and energy could be dedicated towards, like putting people on Mars! In any case, and in anticipation for this coming Friday (and Saturday, if all goes well!), I thought I’d share this video NASA released to put people’s minds at ease. The world will NOT end on Dec. 21st, 2012, it claims, and presents the scientific findings that say so.

Set on Dec. 22nd, 2012, the video approaches the apocalypse as if it is something that has already come and gone and proceeds to explain how the myth of the 2012 End of the World scenario began in the first place. In examining the actual Mayan Calendar, the reasons for why the calendar ends when it does, and taking a look at all the stellar and terrestrial phenomena which are believed to coincide with the date (but which won’t), NASA shows why we have nothing to worry about.

In fact, if anything, the date in question will be a time of rejoicing. Not only is it the holiday season for people worldwide, it is also the natural turning point in the Mayan Calendar, the date at which the ancient astronomers reckoning of time would “reset” in accordance with their ancient theology. This was a regular pattern as far as the Yucatan-based civilization was concerned, and is a testament to their long and expansive concepts of time and cosmology.

Nothing destructive was ever mentioned or implied in the Mayan belief system, merely a rolling over of the odometer and an entrance into a new age. If anything, it was western apocalyptics and cultists, with their preconceived notions of the End of Days and astrology, that attached this significance to the date. Astrological phenomena, such a meteor striking Earth, an inversion of our gravitational field, a massive solar flare, or another planet colliding with us, were all added as a means of explaining how. But, as the experts as NASA show, none of this stuff is happening or in danger of happening in the next few days.

In short, we can all look forward to another holiday season with plenty of food, family, in-laws and swag. As my grandpa used to say “the sun will still rise in the east and set in the west”, the world will keep on spinning, and people will keep on waiting for the end of the days to come. Fear not the End of Days, fear waking up tomorrow and realizing that you still have to get up, go to your job, and tolerate all the little annoyances we all deal with on a daily basis. And while your at it, be thankful you’re alive and STOP WISHING FOR IT ALL TO END!

And if that is still not enough to convince the doomsayers that life will go on, perhaps a quick look at their track record will be enough to convince the rest of us of how often they are wrong. Consider…

30-36 – 2012 C.E: After the death of Jesus and the spread of early Christianity, believers begin to prepare for the “coming of the Lord”. After several centuries, it is clear that the End of Days isn’t just around the corner, so believers begin to settle in and create Monasteries in the hopes of living how the Savior would have wanted. Two-thousand years later, we’re all still waiting!

410 C.E.: Rome is sacked, leading many Christians to fear that the Barbarian hordes are the harbingers of the Apocalypse. However, St. Augustine of Hippo allays much of these fears with his book City of God, where he states that though the corporeal capital of Christianity may have been sacked, the city of God abides. People promptly calm down…

900 C.E.: The fall of the Western Roman Empire leads to renewed fears that the world is ending. However, despite the decline in education, wealth, central leadership, life expectancy, and an upsurge in violence, life goes on…

1000 C.E.: Europe becomes consumed by apocalyptic predictions with the coming of the Millennium. On Dec. 31st, 999, nothing happens! The sun rises on the following day and people go back about their business…

1206-1294 C.E.: The Mongol Hordes, a vast and terrible army, reach Europe from Asia and begin a campaign of conquest and slaughter. People everywhere believe they are the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse foretold in the Book of Revelation. However, Mongol expansion soon ceases, the Empire is subdivided amongst Ghengis Khan’s sons and vassals, and life continues. Just another Horde from the East that failed to deliver on the Apocalypse I guess!

1348-1350 C.E.: The Black Death strikes Europe. People everywhere believe this is God’s judgement and the Rapture is sure to follow. Flagellants punish themselves for the good of humanity, witches are burned, Jews are murdered, cats hung, and any and all traces of “wicked behavior” and people are scapegoated and purged. However, within two years, the plague passes, one-third of Europe has died, but life goes on and a period of rapid recovery soon follows.

1914 C.E.: The outbreak of the Great War leads many to believe that Armaggedon, the last great battle that will signal the end of time, is upon them! After four years of brutal, protracted warfare, all sides agree to a ceasefire and previously held romantic notions of warfare are shattered. Henceforth, Remembrance Day, Veteran’s Day, Memorial Day, and a series of other national and international holidays mark the occasion and remind us how foolish and horrible war really is. However, the world does not end…

1918 C.E.: “Red October” shakes the world, with many predicting that the victory by the “Godless Communists” is a sign of the Apocalypse. However, despite the terrible crimes that follow in the Marxist-Leninists wake, especially where Joseph Stalin, Mao Zedong and Pol Pot are concerned, the world keeps on spinning, even after the conflict becomes nuclear in scope (see next).

1945  – 1991 C.E.: The advent of nuclear weapons and the beginning of the Cold War lead to a resurgence in Apocalyptic predictions, with many claiming that “The End is Near” on a regular basis. However, numerous close shaves pass without incident, the Cold War ends by 1991, and all predictions as to how “Nuclear Holocaust” will take place fail to be realized. In the end, many people realize that the human race isn’t suicidal or quite as stupid as previously thought. Others continue to ponder how WWIII will happen, but produce no realistic scenarios.

1948 C.E. – : The Arab-Israeli Conflict begins and escalates with such events as the Suez Crisis (1956), the Six Day War (1967), and Yom Kipper (1973). Religious scholars and believers begin to claim that these events were foretold in Scripture, and foretell of the coming battle of Armageddon – which will take place at Tel Meggido in modern day Israel. However, land for peace and a detente have prevented any full-scale wars since 1973, and the Oslo Accords of 1992 seem to suggest that a permanent peace between Israel and the Palestinians is just a matter of time.

1980’s C.E.: The growing awareness of the AIDS virus prompts many religious nuts and homophobes to claim that “Gods Judgement is Here” and is taking the form of a virus that strikes down sinners. However, public education and about thirty years with no Rapture lead most to conclude that this is a terrible disease which merits no religious condemnation. Public decrying of victims remains, but few people take them seriously.

1994/5 C.E.: Renewed outbreaks of the Ebola virus leads to new fears of a global pandemic. Movies like The Stand, Outbreak and just about any scenario involving biological warfare do great at the box office, but the apocalyptic nightmare never comes true. And when people realize that casualties are largely reserved to African nations, they generally stop caring!

1990 – 2000 C.E.: Y2K histeria sets in as people get wind of a possible bug that could shut down the world’s computers. People begin hoarding and stocking their shelves in preparation for the pandemonium and chaos that is expected. When the clock strikes midnight of Dec. 31st 1999, nothing happens! The world keeps spinning, the computers keep working, and the nuts go looking for another reason to panic. There are still plenty to choose from…

And let’s not forget 9/11, Hurricane Katrina, the Bath Salts Zombies and every other major disaster that has befallen the world in recent years. Seems every day weirdos and nutjobs are finding reasons to think we’re all going to die. One would think they wanted it to happen or something…

In the meantime, enjoy the video and all its sane and sensible points!

Source: Nasa.org, gaurdian.co.uk

The First Science Fiction Novel Ever?

What do you think of when you hear the words Sci-Fi? Chances are, the words inspire images such as the one above, of nightmarish landscapes featuring clogged streets, flying cars, neon lights and massive skyscrapers. Or possibly you’re partial to the more utopian visions, with space travel, beautiful arcologies and happy shiny people who want for nothing and treat each other with peace and civility.

All good, but chances are, no one thinks of medieval literature from the Islamic world when they hear that term. Chances are no one thinks of anything other than the industrial age, of men like H.G Wells and Jules Verne. For most of us, these are the people who pioneered the field of science fiction, no doubt about it. But amongst scholarswho specialize in tracing literary genres to their roots, one book stands out as the possible progenitor of them all; a little known novel by the name of Theologus Autodidactus.

Outside of antiquarians and theologists, not many people have heard of this story, and up until a few weeks ago, I hadn’t either. So you can imagine my surprise when I learned about it. To me, science fiction was not something that could have predated the scientific revolution, or the age of industry when steam locomotives, steam ships, and a revolutionary understanding of the world and man’s place in it inspired flights of fancy which went well beyond our world. And yet, as it turns out, a manuscript which was written sometime in the 13th century by an Islamic scholar living in Egypt.

His pen name was Ibn al-Nafis (nee Ala-al-din abu Al-Hassan Ali ibn Abi-Hazm al-Qarshi al-Dimashqi), and he was what westerners would later refer to as a “Renaissance Man”. Not only was he an expert physician he also studied jurisprudence, literature and theology and became an expert on the Shafi’i school of jurisprudence before he died. In addition to writing many treatises on medicine, one of which was made famous for being the first in which pulmonary circulation of the blood was mentioned, he also wrote extensively on law and the world’s first coming of age tale/science fiction novel Al-Risalah al-Kamiliyyah fil Siera al-Nabawiyyah, which translated into Latin is known as Theologus Autodidactus.

Plot Summary:
Broken down succinctly, the story revolves around a protagonist named Kamil, an adolescent feral child who at the beginning of the story finds himself spontaneously transported to a cave on a deserted island. Almost immediately, it is clear that the boy is an autodidactic, a self-directed learner who has mastered several fields through independent learning.

Over time, he is met by several castaway who get shipwrecked on the island, learning and sharing from them. In time, the castaways band together to make a ship and agree to take Kamil with them back to civilization. As they return to the world of man, Kamil begins to see all the works of man, learns of philosophy, law and medicine remaining a self-directed learner all the while) and comes to several conclusions.

As he grows, he is taught the value of jurisprudence, religion, the necessity of the existence of God, and the value of the sciences, arts, and all other things that make man civilized. His own coming of age is reflected in explorations of the origin of man, the current state of the world, and predictions of the future. Towards the end, the plot develops from this coming-of-age scenario and begins to incorporate several new elements, such as the the end of the world, doomsday, resurrection and afterlife are predicted and scientifically explained using his own empirical knowledge of biology, astronomy, cosmology and geology.

Summary:
Ultimately, Ibn al-Nafis described his own work as a defense of “the system of Islam and the Muslims’ doctrines on the missions of Prophets, the religious laws, the resurrection of the body, and the transitoriness of the world”. Essentially, this meant presenting rational arguments for religious ideas, such as bodily resurrection and the immortality of the human soul, using both demonstrative reasoning and literary examples to prove his case. In this respect, he was not unlike Thomas Aquinas and a host of other western scholars from the High Middle Ages, men who would similarly try to defend reason based on faith and use empirical knowledge to defend the existence of a spiritual, universal order.

However, what set Ibn al-Nafis’ work apart was the way in which he expressed his religious, scientific and philosophical views through a fictitious narrator who went on to experience what the world had to offer. Rather than writing things in treatise form, which was the style for most philosophers of the day, he chose to do what only a select few of his contemporaries did and tell the story through a narrator who’s own journey illustrated one’s own journey of discovery. In that respect, he was like Voltaire, who’s fictional Candide had to venture out into the world in order to realize the truth about life and the order of things, though their conclusions were vastly different.

And finally, fact that he chose to speculate about what the future held, up to and including the apocalypse itself, is what makes this work classifiable as science fiction. Here, he was most comparable to men like H.G. Wells and Verne, men who looked to the future in the hopes of illustrating the current state of humanity and where it was likely to take them. And though these, and later generations of individuals, often had a negative appraisal of such things, Iban al-Nafis’ was arguably positive. His exploration was designed to affirm belief in the existence of something greater than material nature, but provable using the same basic laws.

I can’t imagine being able to find a copy of this book any time soon. It’s not like Amazon has copies on hold for anyone looking to a little cross-cultural antiquities reading. I checked, they really don’t! Still, I’d consider it a boon to find a translation and read the whole story for myself. What I little I learned can’t possibly capture the historic and cultural importance of the novel. Something to add to the reading list, right next to The Peach Blossom Spring and Beowulf!