What is the name of the sci-fi story featuring an old man and boy who miss (on purpose in the man's case, accidentally in the boy's) the last shuttle leaving a destroyed, polluted earth?

I read it as a child, possibly in an anthology for elementary students. It could have been an excerpt of a longer work.

The man stays behind on purpose, and in the closing scene he is showing the boy how to dig up the concrete and plant a tree.

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    It's not the answer, but your title brought to mind the William Tenn short story "The Liberation of Earth". – dmckee --- ex-moderator kitten Oct 13 '12 at 22:25
  • Just asking, because this seems familiar: is this a really, really short story (2-3 page length)? – Broklynite Nov 10 '14 at 10:51
  • Not the answer (no trees were planted), but another William Tenn's story almost fits the bill, with a man and a child remaining on a dying Earth awaiting the Sun's going nova, the first on purpose, the latter almost by accident: The Custodian, in Asimov/Greenberg/Waugh's Catastrophes! (1981). – LSerni Nov 28 '17 at 22:37

Is it Childhood's End by Arthur C Clarke? The description of two people at the end of the world seems familiar.


I think you mean The Road?

The Road is a 2006 novel by American writer Cormac McCarthy. It is a post-apocalyptic tale of a journey of a father and his young son over a period of several months, across a landscape blasted by an unspecified cataclysm that has destroyed most of civilization and, in the intervening years, almost all life on Earth.

But this story was written about 10 years ago?!

  • Looked at the Wikipedia link - no mention made of the father and son missing a shuttle. Also, the OP's post says the story ends with the old man (not necessarily the boy's father) showing the boy how to dig up concrete and plant a tree; Wikipedia says this story ends with the boy's father dying. Doesn't seem like a particularly strong match.... – RDFozz Jan 26 '18 at 18:59
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    There is absolutely no way this is The Road. The Road has a Man and a Boy as the protagonists. That's about all these have in common. – Broklynite Jan 26 '18 at 19:16

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