Christopher Farai Charamba The Reader
The book of Revelations in the Bible is quite descriptive on what one should expect during the end days of the world. Many other religions have their own version of Armageddon, in fact, even Christians don’t agree on how exactly the end days will take place.
In “The Last Trump”, the famous science fiction writer Isaac Asimov gives a short account of how he perceives the end days to take place.
Ironically, Asimov was an atheist and once said: “Properly read, the Bible is the most potent force for atheism ever conceived.”
But one’s religious inclination or lack thereof does not preclude them from writing on the subject, particularly one that has captured the interest of humankind since time immemorial.
Asimov was more than just a science fiction writer, he was also a professor of biochemistry and had work published in nine of the 10 major categories of the Dewey Decimal Categorisation system.
“The Last Trump” begins with the Archangel Gabriel talking to Etheriel, a junior seraph who has responsibility over the world, before he blows the last trump to signal the end of days.
This is taken from the Bible, 1 Corinthians 15: 51-52 which reads: “Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.”
Etheriel is opposed to this order to end the world on January 1, 1957 but Gabriel points out that this has been agreed upon by the Council of Ascendants and has received explicit approval of the Chief whose word is binding and cannot be reversed.
As Gabriel blows the trumpet, Etheriel decides to go and speak to the Chief himself and plead for the decision to end earth to be reversed.
The scene immediately switches to earth where R.E. Mann walks into a factory store and has a conversation with the owner about the sounding of the last trumpet.
As they are conversing, the owner’s father who was once dead is now alive and walks in naked seeking to resume ownership of their business.
He mentions how all the dead are rising, with the recently dead rising first and the older following.
Moments later the owners’ grandfather walks in, equally naked and he too wishes to take back the business.
In the ensuing quarrel over who the business belongs to, R.E. Mann steps in and points out their argument is frivolous as their business makes food and since the trumpet sounded, no one has an ap- petite.
R.E. Mann leaves the shop and heads to the cemetery to see what it looks like.
There he meets a man born in the early 1800s who is waiting for the Indians.
Another conversation he has is with a historian who contends that this last trumpet that sounded was not signalling for Judgment Day but that now people lived in hell as they would devoid of all desires.
On the other end Etheriel forces his way into a meeting with the Chief and pleads for Earth to be restored to its former state.
He points out that while the order did say that the trumpet should sound in the 1957, there was no real consensus on earth as to when the year 1957 actually was and so technically the trumpet should not have sounded.
Asimov’s short story is one which raises questions on the concept of time and life on earth.
It debates briefly the concept of good versus evil and also the omnipotence of God and the idea of determinism.
The story ends with a short twist, a pun on the name of one of the characters mentioned and how he ties into the story of good versus evil, particularly in the last days.