I have just finished reading “When The Earth Died” by Karl Mannheim.
I bought this book in a second hand bookshop last summer while on holiday in Devon, and it attracted me because it is a science fiction title covering the possibility of the Earth dying while humans are still around.
The blurb reads:
“His breath was tearing his throat as he ran, a tall, massive figure of a man, like a shadow along the smooth side of he great green building. There were no sounds of pursuit – the Empire Police were too discreet for sirens or whistles. But they were there behind him, and not only behind him but all around him. This looked like being the last hole into which this quarry would be driven.“
The book focuses mainly on a man called Barry, who has escaped the clutches of the Empire Police and their brainwashing ways, and suddenly finds himself a vital part of a secret mission to escape Earth and the increasingly dangerous war happening between two great empires. He and the girl he seems to love end up part of a mixed crew of scientists and other hand-picked normal people, ready to form a new colony on the Moon and beyond.
There is a great deal of tension built up within the novel, with certain characters seeming to lose the plot and go a bit crazy, the suspect characters who turn out to be traitors, and those who seem to struggle with what’s right and wrong. There are a few minor characters, like the would-be colonists in the crew who we find out very little about, even though they are part of this special mission.
The main tension is that of the journey in the spaceship, which takes them to the Mood and other places, which is a very dangerous journey into the unknown, and the death of the Earth which seems to happen surprisingly quickly! Maybe a little bit unbelievable! The fact that it is the humans who destroy the planet is pretty scary!
The ending is as happy as it can be, given the circumstances of the novel!
I give it 7/10 because it seems original, if a little bit too short of get into great detail about everything. Worth a read if you fancy a different apocalyptic and post-apocalyptic type story!
Note: This book doesn’t seem to be in print any more, but is available online through Amazon and other online stores, and secondhand shops. My copy was published in 1972 and is a Five Star Paperback.