The Endless Pavement: 02/15/16
The Endless Pavement by Jacqueline Jackson is a cautionary tale about the automobile, published during the OPEC oil embargo of 1973-1974. It builds a world where cars are the caretakers of humanity, shuttling them around in circuitous routes away from the rough and tumble natural world.
Josette is an elementary school aged child who lives with her family in their self driving home — something like an intelligent RV. She spends her life like all children, in her rollabout, a small self driving carriage that behaves like the chairs in Wall-E but looks remarkably like a mini version of Google's self driving car. She divides her time between home and school, all of these buildings being self driving vehicles, following a pre programmed route across the remains of human civilization.
Like the Lorax, another book from the same era, addressing similar concerns, Josette glimpses something out of the ordinary, a struggling apple tree, forgotten or missed by the machines that keep nature away from people. Her curiosity over the tree, and her desire to eat an apple (something she's learned through forbidden lore), leads her on a dangerous path towards rebellion.
This illustrated poem presented as a children's book still has relevance now at a time when self driving cars are being tested and robots are being used for cleaning floors and mowing lawns, for instance. Our love affair with the multilane highway, though, is over, as evidenced in Interstate 69 by Matt Dellinger, so perhaps the worst of this dystopia won't come to pass.