What life is valuable? More precisely, whose life is valuable? Is your life more valuable than mine? Does your position, title, salary, or family relationship make your contribution to this small planet more valuable than mine?
This is not a small question. We ask it in fiction yet ignore it in reality. On this globe, everyday decisions have determined that some lives are more valuable than others.
Last month the powerful cyclone Idai took aim at Mozambique. It promised to be one of the deadliest storms in history, yet I heard nothing about it. Trump being a spoiled brat had plenty of news. The 2020 Presidential field saw nightly coverage. A self-centered egoist faking his attack in downtown Chicago got wall-to-wall coverage.
I first heard of Idai slamming into Mozambique on BBC World Service. I listen to World Service every night as I go to sleep. It is the most consistent and reliable source of news I have found.
Two days after Idai hit Mozambique I saw a report on ABC. The video was from another source. I think it was four days after Idai that I saw an American reporter in Mozambique. Since the report, I have had to search for news on the recovery effort in this east African country.
Mozambique is a world away from America, but are those lives less important than those in Puerto Rico? Puerto Rico is another example where information and aid were slow compared to the response in Houston a month earlier. The infrastructure to Houston is better than to Puerto Rico. From my house I can get to Houston or Puerto Rico in a day, two at the most. I have never been to Mozambique, but I imagine ABC’s four-day effort is accurate.
As a community of humanity, we are not consciously making these decisions of importance, but someone is. Somewhere, right now, men and women are deciding where to build bridges. A government agency is determining what airports get the traffic. Someone decided where the floodplain is. A group of investors is plotting to develop land through eminent domain.
The people in the city on the other side of the bridge are more important than one farther down the river. The people near the airport will have more wealth than those farther away. The farmer will lose land that has been in his family for two-hundred years because of the floodplain map. Investors will pay a few thousand dollars to satisfy a muffled public outcry then make millions on the land they claimed was for public use.
Right now, gods are ruling your life, and those gods must die. It is inevitable. From the beginning of the The Gap Cycle the gods of the UMC and UMCP have been pulling the strings of our characters. The brutal rape and humiliation of Morn Hyland in the The Real Story was nothing compared the rape of humanity committed by the UMC on human space. From the forming of the United Mining Corporation to events in Forbidden Knowledge humanity was enslaved to Holt Fasner’s desire for immortality. Warden Dios was the hand that shaped Holt’s vision, but it became too much, and Warden decided to kill the Dragon.
In The Gap Into Ruin, This Day All Gods Die Stephen R. Donaldson concludes his big space adaption of Der Ring des Nibelungen. The main players are in place, and Warden is prepared for his final sacrifice.
Warden put the players into place. He manipulated his organization, his loyal subordinates, and strangers at a distant outpost to play out his plan for the Dragon’s destruction. Min Donner has ceded control of Punisher to Morn Hyland who deserves to write the end of this story, but, sadly, she is little more than a witness.
“I don’t think it’s self-destructive to tell the truth,” she stated. “And justice doesn’t mean anything if it isn’t based on the truth.This Day All Gods Die by Stephen R. Donaldson
Her confession and exposition of the events that unfolded in The Real Story seal The Dragon’s fate. Hashi is here as well, struggling with quantum irregularities.
“My dear Koina, have you studied Heisenberg?” She shook her head. “A pity.” He settled himself in his g-seat to await the shuttle’s arrival at UMCPHQ. “If you had, you would understand that I could not possibly have known what I was looking for until I found it.”This Day All Gods Die by Stephen R. Donaldson
Since The Gap Cycle was published physics learned that there is no physical substrate to the information the receptors of the human brain use to create reality. Hashi’s instincts that facts matter is the biggest lie in the Universe has proven true.
The hero’s journey takes many forms. Angus’s transformation from reprobate rapist to martyr is complete. Angus’s suffering in the crib never justified his rape of Morn, no matter how hard Donaldson tried. Angus dying is the only satisfying end for him; one denied.
They could have left him to die, damn right, that’s what he would have done himself, get rid of the butcher the rapist the illegal who looked like a toad and stank like a pig while they had the chance, no one would ever know the difference. Gone and good riddance.This Day All Gods Die by Stephen R. Donaldson
Because of the stories loose ends, we pay brief visits to characters sidelined until now. Ciro’s storyline is just enough to justify his suicide. (Should have been Angus. Donaldson foreshadowed it when Angus triggered the singularity grenade to escape the VI system). The strong willed and protective Mika inexplicably lets Ciro be the martyr.
Warden Dios gets his sacrifice when he destroys Holt Fasner’s last hold on humanity. He gave Morn to both Angus and Nick, but if you are waiting for Warden to pay for that you are denied. Yes, he is forced to take the Amnion mutagen, but no he does not transform. His humanity remains intact to the end. An end that returns to Angus Thermopyle who manages to escape with all the bounty and his superpowers intact.
“Your Director Dios knew what he was doing when he sold Morn to Nick. He framed me. Cost me my ship. My life. Her—” He flicked a glance at Morn. “And he knew what he was doing when he welded me. He called it a crime against my soul. But that didn’t stop him. None of it stopped him.”This Day All Gods Die by Stephen R. Donaldson
None of it stopped him. None of it ever stops us. As I post this America is consumed with an immigration crisis while casually ignoring the source of that crisis. The wealth gap is real. The gap between who is important and who does not matter has never been larger. The gods of today, like the gods from Der Ring des Nibelungen or The Gap Cycle, must die. All gods must die.