The Star Thrower: sweetly moving comic

I found Jake Parker's short comic "The Star Thrower" to be sweetly moving and well, just lovely. What a nice way to have started my morning.

The Star Thrower (Thanks, Fipi Lele!)


  1. I’m sure you’re aware, but nice to give credit where credit’s due.

    It’s an adaptation of The Star Thrower by Loren Eiseley. A story that has since been retold about million times by motivational speakers and the ilk.

    Wikipedia article.

    The first time I heard it was when my Primary School principal told it at assembly when I was about 9. He told it like he was the man walking on the beach and it had happened to him.

    Then I heard it again about 3 years later by a motivational speaker in my first year of high school. Also claiming it happened to him.

    Then I heard it a third time and thought I really needed to look up where it came from.

  2. Sorry I realise now the link contains all that information. I clicked past the blog post to read the slightly larger panels on Flickr so I missed it.

  3. And that man’s name was Jesus.

    Or was that just the version they tell at Catholic schools?

    1. Or was that just the version they tell at Catholic schools?

      ‘Footprints’ was the one I encountered most in my religious upbringing.

      Snopes describes this kind of sicky inspirational tale as ‘glurge‘- they’ve collected dozens of them.

  4. This is based upon a biographical story of Rutger Hauer’s – he tells it on the website of the charity he set up.

  5. Loren Eiseley is far more than what’s reflected in this delightful story… The Night Country is a book I’ve reread more often than any but, perhaps, Catch-22. He was a well-respected paleontologist, and not at all of the creation science breed.

    To disabuse one of the “footprints” misinterpretation of his work, read the poem “Druid Born.” I can’t seem to find it on the web right away to provide a link.

    His work excels in creating a unique mood. I can only describe it as a place accessible when insomnia creates a bubble of clarity in which for a moment you can hear the echo of water drops in endless caverns of deep time.

    The two best books are The Night Country and The Immense Journey.

    1. Thank you for your posts! I plan to spend the near future reading the works from, and the works about Loren Eiseley.

  6. Since I can’t find Druid Born, and my copy of The Star Thrower is in storage, here are a couple of his quotes from the Wikipedia bio:

    “I am treading deeper and deeper into leaves and silence. I see more faces watching, non-human faces. Ironically, I who profess no religion find the whole of my life a religious pilgrimage.”

    “The religious forms of the present leave me unmoved. My eye is round, open, and undomesticated as an owl’s in a primeval forest — a world that for me has never truly departed.”

    I think what the whole of his work communicates is the experience of _awe_ itself as an unreconstructed human emotion triggered by the vast perspectives of both astronomy and paleontology, but which gets co-opted, stolen, and manipulated by religions. In The Star Thrower, he’s saying that even though a glimpse of our place in the universe naturally tempts one to nihilism, that compassion and connection are worthwhile not for what they do to the universe, but for what they do to us.

  7. I think there was a Calvin & Hobbes strip similar to this, with Susie tossing starfish back into the water…

  8. Lunar escape velocity is 2.4 kilometers per second. Even assuming the smaller giant lunar thing is well over ten times the height of a human and has the capability to hurl things with twenty times the velocity of a good baseball pitcher, that’s still a mere .89 kilometers per second.

    There are multiple ships and people scattered around. Either they all failed simultaneously and in exactly the same way, faceplanting upon landing, or something has been happening to them. I suggest that the most likely explanation is on the far side of the horizon, there’s another giant lunar idiot child picking them up and hurling them in ballistic arcs.

  9. Loren Eiseley is an excellent antidote to a certain trope you sometimes find in science fiction, one in which evolution is a kind of Whig History of Western civilization.

    He writes stuff so utterly profound that a lot of big-picture SF looks kind of sad.

    “Darwin saw clearly that the succession of life on this planet was not a formal pattern imposed from without, or moving exclusively in one direction. Whatever else life might be, it was adjustable and not fixed. It worked its way through difficult environments. It modified and then, if necessary, it modified again, along roads which would never be retraced. Every creature alive is the product of a unique history. The statistical probability of its precise reduplication on another planet is so small as to be meaningless. Life, even cellular life, may exist out yonder in the dark. But high or low in nature, it will not wear the shape of man. That shape is the evolutionary product of a strange, long wandering through the attics of the forest roof, and so great are the chances of failure, that nothing precisely and indentically human is ever to come that way again.”

    “In a universe whose size is beyond human imagining, where our world floats like a dust mote in the void of night, men have grown inconceivably lonely. We scan the time scale and the mechanism of life itself for portents and signs of the invisible. As the only thinking mammals on the planet — perhaps the only thinking animals in the entire sidereal universe — the burden of consciousness has grown heavy upon us. We watch the stars, but the signs are uncertain. We uncover the bones of the past and seek for our origins. There is a path there, but it appears to wander. The vagaries of the road may have a meaning, however; it is thus we torture ourselves.”

    “Lights come and go in the night sky. Men, troubled at last by the things they build, may toss in their sleep and dream bad dreams, or lie awake while the meteors whisper greely overhead. But nowhere in all space or on a thousand worlds will there be men to share our loneliness. There may be wisdom; there may be power; somewhere across space great instruments, handled by strange manipulative organs, may stare vainly at our floating cloud wrack, their owners yearning as we yearn. Nevertheless, in the nature of life and in the principles of evolution we have had our answer. Of men elsewhere, and beyond, there will be none forever.”

    — Loren Eiseley, “Little Men and Flying Saucers,” The Immense Journey

    In another essay, he states that he felt the most important he’d ever done was engage in some spontaneous tug-of-war play with a baby fox.

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