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Wheels Within Wheels: Nine Last Days on Planet Earth by Daryl Gregory

What will it take for humanity to come together? To take steps to combat global warming, to send men to Mars, to the furthest reaches of our solar system or to the nearest habitable planet in the Goldilocks zone? 

Would aliens do it, as they do in the movie Independence Day? When I ridiculously articulate American President stood up and called on everyone of all nations to unite and combat a common enemy?

In Nine Last Days on Planet Earth by Daryl Gregory, Seeds of alien plants rain down on the world. Invasive species that take root and grow, propagating wildly, sowing the seeds for an alternate history that spans nearly one hundred years across the life of LT, a boy, a scientist, a husband, a father, a grandfather. Leader of the Department of Agriculture and expert on the invasives, LT doesn’t lose himself to his work. He finds himself in it.  

A husband in college where he studied the invasion. An adopted daughter from New Zealand where invasives have strangled the food supply. Reconciliation with his father through the family’s pet plant, one of the invasives, that moves in slow-motion, earning him the name Slow-mo. Against all of it, the knowledge that some alien life form sent these species to earth in a calculated move. These breathtaking plants, flowers and fungi, all of them will be food for aliens. When they arrive, they won’t go hungry. 

Yet, they keep waiting. Everything moves at different speeds. Plant, animal, planetary timetables difficult to fathom. The wheels within wheels forever turning. They keep fighting, humanity and families pulling closer and closer together. Something has to break. Yet the knots grow ever tighter and all the distance between people falls away.

“Sometimes the only way you could tell someone you loved them was to show them something beautiful. Sometimes, you have to send it from very far away.”

-Daryl Gregory

Gregory’s novella is beautifully constructed, effortlessly gliding through years and decades. At the end, you feel as though the story itself is a gift. Something from someone who wants to show you the best of what you, or maybe all of us, could become.

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