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McLoughlin, John C

Entry updated 12 September 2022. Tagged: Author.

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(1949-    ) US author whose first novel, The Helix and the Sword (1983), is set partly in a Ruined Earth venue five millennia hence, where Mutant beasts have filled the niches abandoned by the remaining humans, who live in Space Habitats restricted to the solar system; when Earth is found to be once again inhabitable, an Adam and Eve coupling of humans on the surface points to recovery. McLoughlin's second novel, Toolmaker Koan (1987), sets up a renewed Cold War tussle between an expanded USA and Soviet Asia-Africa-Europe – after a very brief World War Three has been curtailed at the brink of planetary disaster – over which global power will be the first to contact and exploit an Alien presence detected by a probe beyond the orbit of Uranus. The underlying argument of the tale, extrapolated from evolutionary Biology, suggests that any species, once it acquires tools, enters an almost certainly fatal period of disequilibrium between that manipulative capacity and its powers of self-control (see Fermi Paradox). In the end, the "aliens" in their Generation Starship turn out to be sapient Dinosaurs, relics of Earth's last self-destructive evolutionary surge, stored/recorded by a benevolent but flawed "Third Party" AI which has recreated them in the period of the novel in an attempt to save Homo sapiens from almost inevitable self-termination by introducing a new factor. The novel is overcrowded with didactic exposition; the ending, though Earth itself cannot be saved, is very cautiously optimistic. [JC/DRL]

John C McLoughlin

born Rye, New York: 8 February 1949



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