First published in the June of 1955 edition of Fantastic Universe
, Isaac Asimov
's The Last Trump
also appears in the anthologies: Earth Is Room Enough
; The Far Ends
of Time and Earth
; The Complete Stories
, Volume 1; and Catastrophes!
In the spirit of noding your own homework, what follows is a brief summary (aka, spoiler) and general idea from an assignment. Page numbers are from Earth Is Room Enough.
As the Archangel Gabriel approaches Earth the junior Seraph Etheriel implores Gabriel not to halt the progress of human civilization by sounding the final trump. Etheriel pleads "But you'll be disrupting my world without notice." (p. 130), to which Gabriel responds that the "Resurrection Day" is forewarned by God in such relics as the Book of Daniel, the Gilgamesh Chronicle, and hieroglyphs in the Great Pyramids. Despite Etheriel's pleas the final trump is sounded and Earth "[Spins] as before in a universe now completely empty" (p. 132). The narration shifts to the experience of R. E. Mann, a normal human still alive when the final trump was sounded. At first he seems apathetic to the "Resurrection", but when his long dead father and grandfather return to criticize his operation of the family business, R. E. sets out towards the graveyard in curiosity. Everywhere the "living" are confronting the resurrection of their long dead relatives and friends. Mountains and buildings begin to crumble, but no one is hurt as no one is alive; the resurrected walk through the streets without cloth and those who were alive during the trump find their cloth disintegrating, but no one is ashamed as "lust and sin ... no longer exists"; the armies of Napoleon, Hitler, the Civil War, and ever other conflict reemerge, but such a convergence of historical figures is of little interest as lust and conviction have all been removed. As one character explains "Eventually, there'll be nothing but flatness, featurelessness, nothingness-and us." (p. 143). The story returns of Etheriel, who has defied angelic protocol and imposed himself on the presence of God. Etheriel argues that the Act of Ascendancy stipulates 12:01 pm of January 1, 1957, (significant as the time of humanities first nuclear detonation) as the moment of the "Resurrection", without regard to the diversity of calendars developed by the cultures of human civilization. God then agrees and rescinds the Resurrection until "all the inhabitants of Earth unanimously agree that a certain year shall be numbered 1957 and none other." (p. 145)
The Last Trump presents humanity as the helpless and pathetic victim of a supernatural organization. Asimov produced this cynical and satirical spin on the Biblical Resurrection Day prophecy to highlight the failings of a religious world, as he perceived them. As such The Last Trump is a significant example of humanism in Asimov's literature; the belief, as Asimov himself defined it, "[that] human beings produced the progressive advance of human society and also the ills that plague it.", and disbelief "in the influence of the supernatural on either the good or the bad of society."
Earth is room enough. - Garden City, New York. Doubleday & Company, Inc.