Draft opening of Earth Abides as I pick up the manuscript after being away for a few days house hunting. I’ve always found I have to start from the beginning whenever that happens. It gets me into the story. I view it like juggling: I have to pick up the characters, the plot, the theme, etc. and get them going until I get the rhythm of the book once more. And Earth Abides is turning out to be a very different kind of story with the most unusual antagonist I’ve had in eighty books:

In The Beginning

In the beginning there was Chaos.

Or was there?

Did the universe all spring from nothingness and darkness, or was there an overarching intelligence behind it all? And if so, why would it bring forth Chaos? Or was the Chaos a natural result of a collapse of that first intelligence or perhaps a failure of the intelligence to advance? Or a test for intelligences that follow? If they could reach the same level?

Scale Life, at least what is currently accepted as ‘intelligent’ life in the Universe by the same intelligent life, doesn’t know how they came out of this Chaos. At first, as their consciousness emerges, each Scale in its little pocket of a single planet, tries to come up with an explanation for not only their own existence but that of the world around them. They look up and see the stars and also have to explain them. They look outside of themselves and invent, and worship, a higher power. An intelligence that created all; of course, they do so without any proof except their own existence and ego. That they exist out of Chaos.

Which could be both correct and wrong. If their existence came from some intelligence, then they are correct, but if that intelligence is testing them and doesn’t really care if they pass or fail, then are they wrong?

Does it matter?