A collection of chilling and prescient stories about ecological apocalypse, artificial intelligence, and the merging of human and machine in an effort to survive.
Welcome to Moderan, world of the future. Here perpetual war is waged by furious masters fighting from Strongholds well stocked with “arsenals of fear” and everyone is enamored with hate. The devastated earth is coated by a vast sheet of gray plastic, and, not to be outdone, humans vie to replace more and more of their own “soft parts” with bits of steel machinery. What need is there for the timetable of nature when trees and flowers can be pushed up through holes in the plastic, each in its season? Who requires human companionship when new-metal mistresses can be ordered to spec from the shop? But even a Stronghold master, exulting high above the rockets and sub-par people below, doubt the catechism of Moderan at times. Wanderers, poets, and sometimes his own children pay visits, proving that another world is possible. “The effect is as if Whitman and Nietzsche had collaborated,” Brian Aldiss wrote of the Moderan stories. Originally published in science fiction magazines throughout the 1960s and ’70s, occasionally anthologized, and passionately sought by collectors, the stories have not been available in a single volume for more than forty-five years. Like Anthony Burgess in A Clockwork Orange, and borrowing from the Bible and the language of contemporary advertising, David R. Bunch coined a mind-bending new vocabulary for his stories. His intent was not to divert readers from the horrors of the modern world, but to make them face it squarely. Moderan is a dispatch from the last century, sent to the twenty-first, to rattle us out of our complacency.