A few survivalist, however, had prepared for precisely this eventually. They could escape to moon, & they have a plan to make earth inhabitable again & reestablish human civilization.
Plan will be executed over geological time - using frozen human cells to clone 5 men & women, advanced robots, seeds, etc. Every few hundred thousand years, robots remake clones of 5 survivors, teach them special skills, & send them off to earth to do the next step. Trips rarely go as planned, because natural evolution has been happening on earth too - there were animals, insects & bacteria in specific niches that survived the cataclysm.
Eventually, such a group of 5 is stranded on earth. No fuel to go back to moon, under attack by a vast hoard of hungry insects.
When the next group of 5 clones arrives from moon 1000 years later, they're astonished with the progress. A flourishing human city, where the 5 previous clones are gods. Only the real new arrivals get an unexpected treatment...
- Henry Kuttner's "The Creature from Beyond Infinity" (download): An alien got stranded on primordial earth, & is hibernating over geological time - periodically awakening to check if intelligent life has yet evolved.
- Arthur Clarke's "If I Forget Thee, Oh Earth...": A few survivors on moon, longingly looking at earth destroyed by nuclear war. Scenes are similar to early parts of Williamson's story.
Fact sheet.First published: Science Fiction Age, November 1998.
Related: Stories of Jack Williamson.