Many Days

Science fiction.  I used to consume it by the bookful, and even now I occasionally turn back to it.  Having read Doris Piserchia’s A Billion Days of Earth, I do have a confession to make.  I don’t know why I read it.  Literally.  As I’ve indicated many times before, I keep a reading wishlist.  It’s comprised of books that others recommend and things that catch my eye.  Every now and again a used book sale will bring something unexpected into the mix, but overall, I rely on my list.  I can’t remember who recommended A Billion Days of Earth, or why.  The cover is striking in that 1970s sci-fi way, and it took me back to the actual seventies when I was reading sci-fi quite a bit.  Some of that cover art still mesmerizes me.  So, about the book…

I didn’t know what to expect and received what I was expecting.  This is a philosophically heavy novel that, in the style of some other seventies fiction I read, was a bit difficult to follow.  The main idea (and there will be spoilers) is that Sheen, a silvery, shape-shifting being, emerges a billion days along.  Evolution has taken multiple tracks with animals such as dogs and rats becoming essentially what humans are today (or were in the seventies) and humans evolving into what the other animals call gods.  Sheen slithers about the world taking the egos from all creatures, kind of assimilating them.  A rat person and a dog person resist the relinquishing of their egos while the world around them begins to collapse.  The “gods” refuse to help.  Then, at the end, the gods board their spaceship, and released by Sheen, leave for another planet.

Although I was confused most of the way through, the book leaves a lot to exegete.  This is definitely a retelling of Genesis 1–3.  Sheen offers people (and animals) paradise in exchange for their egos.  Nearly everyone, except those who think (a small number) accepts this offer.  Even the gods are tempted.  We’ve got the snake (Sheen), the expulsion from paradise, and the gods who separate themselves from humanity.  But still, I’m sure there’s something more that I missed.  There are subplots for Rik (rat man) and Jak (dog man) and the rich Filly family that seem to evade conclusion or resolution.  Or maybe once the gods are gone there’s nothing more to say.  This seventies classic left me thinking.  And wondering who it was that recommended it to me.

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