I'm reading the short story collection "Strange Forces" by Leopoldo Lugones, which is arguably the first Argentine work of science fiction. (A distinction which does not appear to be held in high esteem by his countrymen, who consider him an "outmoded writer.") I'm trying to read one story every weekday and record my immediate reaction.
"The Firestorm" is the story of a rain of a recurrent rain of burning copper that falls on an unnamed desert city (probably North African) as related by a misanthropic (and equally nameless) narrator. It's a fairly simple yet chilling story. No explanation is ever offered for the source of the cataclysm, but it's effects are devastating as the city is slowly but utterly destroyed. This vision of urban devastation echoes with notes of Sodom and Pompeii, but also seems to suggest the urban terrors that would come in the 20th and 21st centuries, including the firebombings of WWII, Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and September 11th. That it was written in 1906 makes it seem particularly prophetic.
Donald Hall (1928-2018)
3 weeks ago