Thursday, May 17, 2012

Under The Paving Stones, The Forest

"Hawthorn bushes sprang up among them, and, protected by the briars and thorns from grazing animals, the suckers of elm-trees rose and flourished. Sapling ashes, oaks, sycamores, and horse-chestnuts, lifted their heads. Of old time the cattle would have eaten off the seed leaves with the grass so soon as they were out of the ground, but now most of the acorns that were dropped by birds, and the keys that were wafted by the wind, twirling as they floated, took root and grew into trees. By this time the brambles and briars had choked up and blocked the former roads, which were as impassable as the fields."
"No fields, indeed, remained, for where the ground was dry, the thorns, briars, brambles, and saplings already mentioned filled the space, and these thickets and the young trees had converted most part of the country into an immense forest. Where the ground was naturally moist, and the drains had become choked with willow roots, which, when confined in tubes, grow into a mass like the brush of a fox, sedges and flags and rushes covered it. Thorn bushes were there, too, but not so tall; they were hung with lichen. Besides the flags and reeds, vast quantities of the tallest cow-parsnips or "gicks" rose five or six feet high, and the willow herb with its stout stem, almost as woody as a shrub, filled every approach."

 "By the thirtieth year there was not one single open place, the hills only excepted, where a man could walk, unless he followed the tracks of wild creatures or cut himself a path. The ditches, of course, had long since become full of leaves and dead branches, so that the water which should have run off down them stagnated, and presently spread out into the hollow places and by the corner of what had once been fields, forming marshes where the horsetails, flags, and sedges hid the water."
Richard Jeffries, After London


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have a fondness for this particular feature of post-apocalyptic fiction. George Steward's "Earth abides" is a favorite as is Wyndham's "The day of the Triffids". However I notice the plants described are mostly native English plants familiar to a Victorian, not the exotic invasives,(Ironically introduced in Victorian times) that would have a competitive advantage such as Buddleia, Japanese Knotweed or Giant Hogweed.
Now listening to Sweet Billy Pilgrim : Crown and treaty. :)

May 19, 2012 10:39 pm  
Blogger Barrie Collins said...

Richard Jeffries, After London:
Nice stuff, reminiscent of Roger Deakin.
There's not enough of this stuff about.

I have a fondness for place-writing and attempt to weave it into my own work.

I don't know whether you read these blog comments Paul but if you do there's something I'd like to know. You have a short story in the latest Best Science Fiction and Fantasy of the year Volume 6, its called The Choice. I loved this story, nice prose, good, well drawn characters, a landscape I could smelle. Its not hard sci fi, which is somewhat of a relief even though I like the stuff, Iain Banks is a favourite author.

So on the strength of that short story of yours I went out and bought In The Mouth of The Whale, which I'm enjoying so far. But, what I'd like to know is do you have any stories that more closely resemble The Choice?

BTW I thought The Choice was by far the best STORY story in the collection and there were about 5 others that came close to you, the rest were well, tedious. It has a nice cover though by Sparth.

If you like place or nature writing The Meadow by James Galvin is a great read.

May 20, 2012 10:14 am  
Blogger Paul McAuley said...

Hi Barrie,

Thanks for yr kind words re 'The Choice'. It shares a common history with some other stories of mine, but it's the only one, so far, set on Earth. If you look to the right of the words and pictures you'll find a link to one, 'City of the Dead.' Another, 'Bruce Springsteen', was published in Asimov's earlier this year. And a third, 'The Man', will be published in Arc: Infinity next week.

Thanks for recommending Galvin's 'The Meadow'. Not one I've heard of before, but looks v. interesting. Am slowly working my way through William Gay's oeuvre, and am a huge fan of Daniel Woodrell.

May 24, 2012 9:56 am  
Anonymous Barrie Collins said...

Thanks Paul,

Its nice of you to reply, I'll check out the two authors you mentioned and those stories of yours that you recommended as well.

I'm enjoying The Whale, your ideas about consciousness and the nature of space are interesting; btw have you seen the PBS series The Fabric of the Cosmos, hosted by Brian Green?

This is where I live on the net if you want to explore my stuff, I do a bit of drawing and later this year will self-publish vol I of my YA sci fi qtet with Lulu; there's a first chapter on my site - pardon the blatant plug.

May 28, 2012 11:57 am  

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