"This Crowded Earth" by Robert Bloch

 

 


                                                      "Despite my ghoulish reputation, I really have the heart of a small boy.

                                                                         I keep it in a jar on my desk."

                                                                                -Robert Bloch-




Once again we find ourselves hovering in the early 20th century, trolling through the bins of Cosmic horror, looking for a worthy subject of Free Reading.  This week we decided to set our sights on Robert Bloch.  He is known, along with August Derleth, as one of H.P. Lovecraft's disciples.  Though Bloch has the singular distinction of having been protrayed in an actual work of Lovecraft's short story "Haunter in the Dark".  Bloch, later received permission from Lovecraft to kill him off in one of his own stories.  Like Derleth, Bloch also began his career writing Cosmic Horror, and eventually branched out into Science Fiction, Crime Fiction, and other types of Horror.  His earliest collection of short stories was published by Derleth in his newly formed Arkham House Publishing.  A midwestern boy, Bloch eventually moved out west to Hollywood where he remained gainfully employed for the next 35 years as a writer for television, where he enjoyed a great deal of success.  Most notably, Bloch wrote "Psycho" which was adapted for the screen in 1960 and starred Anthony Perkins and Janet Leigh.  

The story we are sharing with you today "This Crowded Earth" is both prophetic and dark.  Some say it is a tongue in cheek telling of a future Earth with over population and depleted resources.  These two antagonistic factors lead humans to begin engineering humans to be smaller so they take up less space and consume less resources.  What ensues is an almost humorous competition between the now "normal" sized humans and the smaller ones.  Really the book is about the creation of social ills by humans and their attempts to cure them, and by succeeding end up creating more problems.  As an example: Humans end up curing disease and doing away with war which ends up causing the human population to explode.  This in and of itself is incredible but Bloch continues by examining ever smaller dynamics being fueled by the larger ones.  The idea of living in an apartment the size of a broom closet is presented, paired with the idea that people get married so they can upgrade to a full room sized apartment.  I found the critique of utopian societies to be absolutely genius.  It is a caveat from 1958 about the fixation on utopian ideas and universal condemnation of social ills.  It is also hard not to make the association between this story and social justice overreach and blind indignation to social ills without actually understanding causal factors.  I highly recommend this read to anyone who plans on continuing to live in modern society.  Below is the link, and I hope you all enjoy this one.

This Crowded Earth