Category Archives: post-apocalypse fiction

The Monday Book: FISH by L.S. Matthews

I picked up this book while on a week-long writing retreat, one evening when I couldn’t face my own writing any more. It was short, easy to read in an evening, and I stayed up and read it before bed.

LS Matthews has written a charming and deceptively simple story of Tiger, the child of foreign aid workers in a war-torn country. Tiger is the only character in the book who gets a name. The wise guide who takes the family on their harrowing journey says his name is too hard to pronounce so call him Guide. The donkey (also a major character) is Guide. And Tiger’s parents are Mom and Dad.

The country itself is not named. The novel uses childhood innocence to observe the building horror of the situation, and the difficult questions that the horror will stop for Tiger’s family but not the rest, because they are being evacuated if they can reach the airplane. Tiger wants to know what will happen to his friends. His parents try hard to soft-petal that answer, but readers get it.

A journey fraught with hardships resulting from the drought and war that ruined the country shows perils from natural to human. They cannot cross the easiest border because it is now closed to refugees. They are a target, as foreign workers, for kidnapping and ransom. And they don’t know how to navigate the mountains that separate them from the plane that will not wait, and cannot communicate with the plane.

If the book sounds dark, it isn’t. Donkey and Fish are two of the most human characters in the book; on the day they have to leave, Tiger rescues a fish from a receding mud puddle. The fish would have died, the puddle drying up and leaving him noplace to live. Fish continues to be a metaphor for the family’s survival, placed in a water bottle, and eventually…. well, you read the book. You’ll find it interesting.

Spoiler alert: the donkey makes it. :]

Although written for children, I found the simplicity of the story and the metaphor-rich writing lovely, and moving in their stark poetry. Two fins up.

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Filed under animal rescue, book reviews, Life reflections, out of things to read, post-apocalypse fiction, publishing, reading

Unexamined in the Upside Down

stock-photo-covid-coronavirus-in-usa-dollar-money-bill-with-face-mask-coronavirus-affects-global-stock-1668472411Does it seem to anyone else as if COVID-19 has shone a bright spotlight on our displaced values?

Keeping up with evangelical friends, I see a lot of them going down a rabbit hole that quarantine equals the death of liberty, not the opportunity to birth kindness. Many are talking about the New World Order, which has long been code for a time when Christians have to defy the Antichrist and not participate in world systems.

Problem is, right now, it’s hard to know which systems should be participated in. We’re lauding a man who encouraged his many extramarital girlfriends to have abortions, as the champion of pro-life. Church women hold up signs that say “Sacrifice the weak” when Jesus told us to honor our parents, and take care of the elderly and orphans.

What if this virus is an opportunity to reset, a last chance to examine the way we live, align it with how Jesus told us to live, and do so? Give fair wages to those who work in the fields; honor women the way he did, as True Promise Keepers, not guys feeling small; look with clear eyes at the lives we have lived and what our goals have been, and change them from “make money, keep busy, look good” to something more in keeping with “Love your neighbor as yourself.”

The virus shut down schools and we suddenly saw the value of teachers–and mothers–as the full weight of looking after our own kids descended. And pointed out the unfairness of labor between men and women in so many households, undergirded by Church teaching, not Christian teaching.

The virus pointed out that money decides who lives and who dies in way too many places in the world–including here in the States. And that who has the money isn’t based on who works the hardest. What does Christianity have to do with capitalism? Last chance, kids; why are you living the choices you are? To eat, or to prey on others? What kind of carnivores are we, here in America? The more I look at that question, the worse it gets.

We suddenly have loads of free time, and how we use it is judged heavily. Production of art, stuff, meetings, dinner: good. Contemplation, devotions, meditation, relaxation: bad. Hmmm.

Socrates said, “The unexamined life is not worth living.” Jesus said, “Seek first God’s kingdom and its righteousness.”

What if this is a last chance to look, clear-eyed, at the blinding rhetoric flashing all around the realities of politics and policy: that we have not valued those who have given the most, that we have honored the worst traits of human nature by twisting them up into the Gospel where they don’t belong, and that we have become Americans first, Christians last?

Jesus also said, “The first shall be last” and vice versa. Right after the protagonist in his parable paid all the vineyard workers the same, no matter how long they worked or which jobs they did.

Is this virus a severe mercy, asking us one last time, “Look who you’ve become, look at what you believe. How far have you moved from the simplicity of ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind, soul, and strength, and the second commandment is very like the first. Love your neighbor as yourself’?”

Time will tell.




Filed under Life reflections, post-apocalypse fiction, Uncategorized, Wendy Welch, writing