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November 5th, 2010, 08:36 PM
I remember reading a story by this name (I think) many years ago. Setting: Earth in the far distant future, many millions of years, when climate is mild under a waning sun, tectonic activity has subsided and all mountains are eroded to large hills - sketchy about these details, but have strong impressions. "Utopian" future society is visited by observer from "present". One main theme: societal/political leaders are appointed or chosen from those truly most qualified and least willing to hold office, who retain their jobs - somewhat against their own wills - until they "get it right". They are released from office only when problems are solved and things running smoothly again. A new leader is then selected to serve from the qualified but unwilling. Think that's close. Could be short novel or novella. More philosophy and fantasy than straight-up sci-fi. Author may be better known for non-speculative fiction. Not sure to what exactly "The Jebel" refers - building that houses the seat of government?; temple of humanity?; ideal?

I recalled this story for my sister during the recent political spectacle, but can't find any evidence of it under this title. Have run searches with Google and Library of Congress, don't know of a good sci-fi/fantasy search tool/site. Please help if you can, as my sister now wants to read this story, and I want to re-read it. Does this sound familiar at all? Can you point me to more targeted search options?

Thanks for any ideas
- Sarkand

Jim diGriz
November 6th, 2010, 10:25 AM
Possibly Star of the Unborn by Franz Werfel.

The more I look into it the more I'm convinced this is it. The Time review, http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,776744,00.html, mentions the flat landscape and it features a crystalline mountain/building called Djebel.

November 6th, 2010, 03:47 PM
Thanks, Jim,

This might be it and "feels" somewhat familiar, though the review makes no mention of the central political arrangement that made the book stick in my mind (that leaders are chosen from among the unwilling). I'll look into it, for sure. Any other or further input is welcome.

Thanks again,