Coffee With The Last Man On Earth By George Potter


Tell us what you thought about the May 2010 issue!

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Post May 17, 2010, 12:42:21 AM

Coffee With The Last Man On Earth By George Potter

An excellently crafted story . . . I really liked the author's use of the present tense, and the prose is full of beauty and grace.

To me, this story just felt comfortable to read; it has a very nice overall rhythm. Besides, the resolution bears somewhat of a comforting message, as well.

Maybe a little reminiscent of Ray Bradbury. I like it a lot.
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Post May 19, 2010, 03:35:31 PM

coffee and the Last Man

a good pot of trimethalzanthine, for cream I suggest Baileys.

And another good story as the earth goes down.

I agree and must add to the formula, A nice cat to wake up with. My wife sleeps late. Gotta talk to someone at 4:30. The cat does just fine.

The Baileys is PM in case you might be wondering if.... Otherwise my coffee is perked, black, no sugar, fresh ground.

RT
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Post May 19, 2010, 04:15:05 PM

Coffee with

What gives this story a fable quality is its very premise: coffee with a man from a million years in the future. Considering the way people have changed over just the last 30,000 years, anything bi-pedal one million years from now will be far different than whom we are today. It’s like saying: Martha always enjoyed having tea at exactly 4 pm with Stanley the octopus.
This story becomes a very comfortable, safe tale from another era – much as the main characters are both from a different age. I know I can identify with the woman’s emphasis on the linen tablecloth, the sugar cubes, and the silver creamers. I too like to have things just so when having guests over: it’s safe, it’s comfortable; it’s familiar.
The only thing I didn’t understand was why she didn’t want this guy for herself. He’s obviously single – being the last man on Earth. He’s prompt – there at noon on the dot. He’s polite – asks quietly if she doesn’t mind him staying…before he rips her heart out of her chest and eats it in front of her while it’s still beating with blood spurting all over the white linen tablecloth –
Just teasing…or am I?
Since the house is on fire - at least let us warm ourselves.
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Post May 19, 2010, 04:39:28 PM

bottems' comments

You know you have a way of ending things. I read, and yes, and yes, and WHAT!

Maybe he doesn't want a cougar, ever think about that? maybe he wanted a Mom? All he had was a computer.

genetic/mutations and physical changes in the next 1 Million years might not be that blatant; might just be brain changes, as in nano based rewiring, a possibility.
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Post May 19, 2010, 05:42:05 PM

moms

Moms are nice (unless they're homicidal cold blooded zombies!) .
"You have a nice way of ending things" - that's what my four ex-husbands said too!
I liked this story a lot. I wouldn't change a word of it - I think it all worked.
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Post May 19, 2010, 05:56:14 PM

bottom ender

you're okay, no matter what the others say about you.

If you are in the WDC metro area give a yell/ RT
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Post May 20, 2010, 09:51:31 AM

wdc

If I'm ever in the DC area, it will be because the Feds got me and hauled me there. If this happens, you are welcome to visit me - after the trial of course.
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Post May 26, 2010, 12:26:34 AM

Nice poignant story coupling time-travel with the domestic life of an elderly women.

My grandmother would have blasted Eric away with an old double-barrel shotgun if he
would have materialized in her kitchen. She was good hearted, kind and very friendly, but
her best friend was the old shotgun---a twelve gauge---when it came to strangers. To this day
I still remember it leaning against the side of the ice-box---and I mean a real old time ice-box with ice in the bottom. But she did get a refrigerator when I was six.

The writing was good and the story held my attention from beginning to end. At no time
was I lost searching for unity. The intro was Okay, but I think that I would have added more
action to get a ‘grabbing’ effect that I like with my stories.

The content was excellent. A man coming back from a million years in the future, but his real
purpose was to save mankind in that future.

A good one
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Post May 26, 2010, 07:33:21 AM

Re: Changed

bottomdweller wrote:What gives this story a fable quality is its very premise: coffee with a man from a million years in the future. Considering the way people have changed over just the last 30,000 years, anything bi-pedal one million years from now will be far different than whom we are today. It’s like saying: Martha always enjoyed having tea at exactly 4 pm with Stanley the octopus.
This story becomes a very comfortable, safe tale from another era – much as the main characters are both from a different age. I know I can identify with the woman’s emphasis on the linen tablecloth, the sugar cubes, and the silver creamers. I too like to have things just so when having guests over: it’s safe, it’s comfortable; it’s familiar.
The only thing I didn’t understand was why she didn’t want this guy for herself. He’s obviously single – being the last man on Earth. He’s prompt – there at noon on the dot. He’s polite – asks quietly if she doesn’t mind him staying…before he rips her heart out of her chest and eats it in front of her while it’s still beating with blood spurting all over the white linen tablecloth –
Just teasing…or am I?


We wasted the first 27,000 of those 30,000 years! We only got our act together in about the last 500.

One of the theories of the Mayan Countdown is the acceleration of subjective time. A busy day used to be "go to market for the day". Now we can swing by a takeout and be finished with the meal in half an hour.

That frees up the time. Now old school evolution is really pretty slow. We're just coming into the Biotech century. We'll look different in one hundred years!
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Post May 26, 2010, 09:19:19 AM

3000 years

"We wasted the first 27,000 of those 30,000 years! We only got our act together in about the last 500."
I tend to think in terms of the advancement of darwinian evolution to having the most fit survive, so I'm not sure that we're better suited to survive now than during The Ice Age. My daughter was quoting from a website that said mankind's brain has shrunk 10% over the last 10,000 years. Why is that? Is it like a machine that is becoming more compact all the time - which is acceptable? Or are we losing parts of our survival gear because tools and machines now take care of our needs? If we allow ourselves (over thousands of years) to be cared for and coddled, will we continue to lose large chunks of our intellect? - our ability to survive.
Basically, if we were once again in an ice age without GPS, would we be able to find our way back to the cave after foraging in a 20 mile radius?
I also tend to look at those around me and say, "Is this the best that evolution can do?"
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Post May 26, 2010, 02:22:56 PM

Evolution and brain size

Points to ponder (with apologies to Reader's Digest):

A bottlenose dolphin (like Flipper) has a larger brain than a human. However, it also has considerably more body mass (and presumably some specialized areas dedicated to echolocation), so this may not translate into higher intelligence. (Of course, it would be difficult to define, let alone compare, intelligence in a creature that does not make or use tools -- but that navigates freely over thousands of miles in a three-dimensional environment with human intelligence.

It may not be so much the size of the brain as the relative size of the neocortex (the outer layers, most recently developed in evolutionary terms) and/or the degree to which it is convoluted (wrinkled) that determines intelligence. (A more convoluted surface means more surface area within the same volume.)

It is possible that brains ARE shrinking -- or certain areas are shrinking while others are increasing in complexity (see convoluted surface, above) as "modern" man becomes less physically active, but becomes accustomed to processing more information (or mis- or dis-information, if they watch Fox News and listen to a lot of talk radio).

Human evolution per se may have stalled when "civilization" first made physical strength and agility less important, and later made it possible to survive with relatively low intelligence as well. viz. Frederick Pohl and C. M. Kornbluth's classic novel, "The Marching Morons", or the movie "Idiocracy" for a pessimistic view of where this could lead.

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Post May 26, 2010, 03:30:23 PM

Intelligence

My fear is that once a percentage of the brain is gone, it's gone. This may especially be true with adaptations of the brain like thinking in pictures (dsylexia) or using sensory clues to find your way around an environment or to predict the future.
When art and music classes are considered expendable, while numbers and letters are all that's important - the primitive, creative part of the brain is being lost, and maybe never recovered.
And while we're on the subject of Fox news, 'Would you buy it for a quarter?'.
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Post May 27, 2010, 07:28:05 AM

BRAAINZ!

I am curious if Bottomdweller is referring to "% Brain gone" for a specific individual or species wide. At the very least it's a big interlocking lattice of factors, and we tend to be comforted by simplicity. You can have more brain mass, and if a specific area is damaged, then your overall performance can fall. (Dyslexia).

For the individual, presuming no specific damaged areas, according to Joseph Chilton Pearce in early stages of life you actually have some unallocated brain matter that *decides* whether to become Hunter-Stuff or Writer-Stuff. (My terms, adding some humor.) So without knowing what that website said, "brain mass" is misleading.

Species wide we are getting smarter ... the "Flynn effect" is an otherwise clunky way to say "gee, we're smashing out the boundaries of the IQ tests from 75 years ago". Best we can tell, we're growing up having to process more background info with attendant logic.

The reason I dislike the blind glorification of evolution is that it's a yes/no effect on reproduction. The disturbing thing is that well educated people very roughly tend to have fewer children! (Because they think of responsibility raising them).

Form a whole other angle, socially we don't respect brains during childhood. So we get flawed statistical sampling going on because the "middle specimens" that learn "confidence" are the former bullies of yesterday. The "Mad Scientist" theme is poignant because if the lone guy's competence slips, then he just gets laughed into oblivion.

Fun topic!

P.s. "Bottomdweller and Robert M. are wrinklebrains!"
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Post May 27, 2010, 06:57:56 PM

wrinklebrains

Hey! You can't say that about me - at least not without taking my skull off. Wait a minute...
I'm looking forward to 10 PM so I can read all the Flash fiction pieces in the May Fun and Games contest. How about you? Unabashed self-promotion. In 3 hours others will be able to read the greatest story ever written in this universe or any other.
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Post May 27, 2010, 07:37:56 PM

In 3 hours others will be able to read the greatest story ever written in this universe or any other.
Yeah -- mine! 8)
I was raised by humans. What's your excuse?
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Post May 28, 2010, 08:42:59 AM

greatest story

The great thing about the Flash Fiction challenge poll in the Fun and Games section is that the worm turns. Authors who have had their poetry/stories eviscerated in the Forum can vote on stories - (often written by the critics) - that appear over there. It's payback time, peeps!
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Post May 29, 2010, 07:01:51 PM

great story and LOVE THE TITLE!
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Post June 18, 2010, 09:32:58 AM

Kinda’ late to this discussion. I’ve been a bit busy. Didn’t even vote in the last Challenge. Mea Culpa.

I liked this story, too. The sensual (in this case, all the senses. . .not the other kind) imagery was excellent. The whole: “Life is like a cup of coffee,” is a little Gumpish, but the sentiment is pretty solid.

There is a richness to the character of Mary Ellen that is difficult to pin down. She just seems to be worried about the right kinds of things, and reacting in the right kind of ways. She’s as real as I’ve ever seen anyone write a character in such a short space. And that Eric never says. . .”Goodnight, Mary Ellen,” means that Mr. Potter is able to resist the urge to go for the cheap shot. I’da done it.

The evolutionary discussion is somewhat moot. This critter was constructed, not evolved. That the MultiVac/MicroVac/OmniVac/AC of the future could reconstruct a viable, modern—by our timeline—human should mean that the human race is not dead. Keep at it long enough and a breeding population should be possible. It worked once, with Eric. It should work again. Since this seems to be a two-way time travel, DNA samples from all over the world should be possible, as well.

Shrinking brains has as much to do with decreased mean body mass, as anything else. And it’s also not universal. It’s only the Western European stock folks who have that going on. Don’t forget, it’s not use or lose when it comes to evolution. It’s all about the survival till you can breed another generation with the same traits. Period.
And as for the repartee:

bottomdweller wrote:"You have a nice way of ending things" - that's what my four ex-husbands said too!


Too bad it also happened to be their LAST words. Little Bottomdweller doesn't believe in divorce, you see. . .

Bill Wolfe
"I am Susan Ivanova. . . .I am the Right Hand of Vengence. . .I am Death Incarnate, and the last living thing that you are ever going to see. God sent me."

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Post June 18, 2010, 01:24:31 PM

I'm a bir late to the party as well.

Very well written and an easy read. An emotional rollercoaster for both Mary Ellen and Eric. I could even smell the coffee.

My wife would have brewed up some Yuban in our fifteen year old Mr. Coffee for Eric. Sugar and Coffee Mate to be sure, but I'd take a slug of brandy in mine.

Doomsday: December 21, 2012 according to. the Mayans.

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Post June 18, 2010, 02:52:19 PM

Last words

Bill Wolfe said: "Too bad it was their LAST words." Now, Bill, you promised you wouldn't tell. I guess it's okay since there's nobody here but us chickens.
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