A Choice of Catastrophes

World Without End? Imagine…

  • The stars collapsing, each becoming a matter-and-energy-devouring black hole…
  • Freezing to death on the ice-encrusted plains of once-sunny Southern California as the sun slowly dies…
  • A flash of heat so intense that everything is reduced to a fine, gray ash…
  • The Earth-shattering collision of our planet with a stray asteroid…
  • Being pummeled to death by a rain of meteors…
  • Poisonous air, and water that dissolves human tissue…
  • A nuclear war that renders those areas not completely destroyed uninhabitable for centuries to come…
  • Earthquakes that swallow whole cities and threaten to break the planet apart…

Isaac Asimov, scientist, author, and Earth-dweller, explores the many potential natural and man-made catastrophes that could change life as we know it, or erase us from the face of the Earth.

Natural properties and laws might change at any time, rendering life on this planet—or anywhere in the universe—impossible. But the disasters that are most imminent are in our power to control—technology, nuclear warfare, pollution.…Natural forces far more powerful than man might destroy us. Or they might have nothign to do with bringing about the end.

The title of this book is a good indication of its contents: it’s a systematic examination of all the horrible things that can or will befall our tired little planet, from the end of the universe itself to just the end of humanity. It covers all the possibilities realistically and thoroughly with, of course, a typically Asimovian warning about population and the environment. Definitely worthwhile.

As a note, it was also the inspiration for the later anthology, Catastrophes!.

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