I’ve been reading a lot of post-apocalyptic fiction lately. My favorite sub-genre. When Worlds Collide, Level Seven, The Road, that sort of thing. I’m mid-way through Nevil Shute’s On the Beach right now and Whitley Strieber’s War Day is in queue. Tonight I’ll watch “The Book of Eli.”
How to explain this fascination with the
Denouement? Not sure. Maybe it’s the romantic notion of being among the lucky few, even if some of us are wounded or bitter or others gone ’round the bend. Wind blowing through empty city streets. Potted meat washed down with rainwater. Half-baked plans to travel north some day in search of survivors. A dog, of course. Or a trained elephant.
One science fiction writer coined the term “cozy catastrophe” to describe such scenarios … everybody wiped out except the people you care about most. And no matter how bad things get, you keep up appearances. You insist on tea at tea time and good grooming. You say grace before meals.
It’s true enough that the best laid plans – and they did seem awfully well-laid as we were laying them – have gone astray, but I was stocking my fallout shelter with fresh batteries and checking the shelter hatch for leaks weeks ago, even as diplomatic talks were in progress. Once a scout, you know …
Cozy catastrophes can end in any number of ways. A government helicopter arrives to deliver good news and antibiotics. Or the helicopter arrives too late. Or crashes. Or the survivors turn on each other. Radioactive dust can be a problem, too.
Here’s how John Wyndham ended The Day of the Triffids …
So we must regard the task ahead as ours alone. We think now that we can see the way, but there is still a lot of work and research to be done before the day when we, or our children, or their children, will cross the narrow straits on the great crusade to drive the triffids back and back with ceaseless destruction until we have wiped the last one of them from the face of the land that they have usurped.
Personally, I’d rather drink tea.
Oh … and speaking of the apocalypse. An ad rep for The Greenville News told me today that their entire production department has been outsourced to a company in Indiana. Of the ten page designers who were displaced, seven were let go and three were kept on to facilitate the outsourcing. Ye gods.