Monday, June 15, 2009

The Beginning of the Ends

It's been quiet around here, hasn't it? Let's see if I can do something about that.

There are a few reasons for the dearth of new blog posts. I've been writing almost exclusively offline recently and, on top of that, I keep sliding into phases where my Output slows down to a pitiful trickle and so I ramp up the Input, squeezing stuff into my head to see what sparks off all the gunk slooshing around in my brainpan.

Partly by design, but largely by coincidence, a disproportionate amount of the entertainment I've been consuming lately has been post-apocalyptic or survivalist fiction. The "design" bit of the equation falls under that multi-purpose word "research". For quite a while, I've been working on a script which is only tangentially post-apocalyptic survivalist fiction, so I've been eating up stuff safe in the knowledge that I'm not plagiarising anything or anyone. The "coincidence" bit is just grabbing books, comics, movies, etc. that pique my interest and discovering that, yet again, there's an End of the World scenario at play.

But here's the thing that's really interesting to me. Post-apocalyptic stories all start from a similar starting point - "Something Bad Happens and Everything Changes" - but I've been endlessly delighted at the breadth and range of stories you can get to by spinning off from such a flexible and versatile beginning.

The enduring appeal of post-apocalyptic fiction is obvious and understandable. All day everyday, newspapers and rolling 24-hour news channels scream in our faces about Y2K bugs, avian flu, SARS, swine flu, the collapse of banking institutions, terrorist attacks, ecological disasters and on and on and on. Great horror stories get under your skin because they tap into your existing fears and make them easier to process by clothing them as zombies or vampires or killer cyborgs from the future.

So consider this an introductory blurb because, for the foreseeable future, this blog is going to carry my impressions of a significant pile of the aforementioned post-apocalyptic fiction. Some of it might come off as notemaking in public and thinking out loud. But I'm interested in looking at both the similarities and differences in this substantial and growing sub-genre and not just purely in terms of storytelling. I hope that I'm not the only one to get something out of it.

Now if you'll excuse me, there's an underground bunker that I need to finish building.

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