When I was eleven, I saw a film called Night of the Comet. It was your average 80's cast of characters, teens dressed in blue designer jeans and girls with super poofy hair, but the plot was essentially that a comet passed the earth and when the planet passed through the tail, everyone who was not in a steel compartment (Like a tool shed, etc) was reduced to a calcium dust. Some just got a little hit of it and as their bodies degraded, they became zombies. The survivors were left with the whole world to themselves in the end. This movie fascinated me. Later, in Junior High, I found a book called The Girl Who Owned A City about a plague which kills everyone over the age of 12. I read it several times. I thought it was a pretty nifty idea for a book. As time went by, I picked up on more books and films dealing with the idea. I continued to figure I was pretty weird. It wasn't until I was in college (And after reading many many End of the World and Disaster books later) when I dug up a book called The End of the World which, to my amazement, was entirely essays about fiction concerning the end of the world. My jaw dropped. As I read essay after essay, I found book after book that I had already read never heard about anywhere else, and a good many I hadn't heard of. I was overjoyed. I had always knew I had been following a genre, but now I knew I wasn't alone.
To me, a true Apocalyptic book covers a catastrophe, the breakdown of order, and the survivors -- or any combination thereof. This is how I judge books that go on this list. I had a person E-mail me on information regarding the book Failsafe and I honestly couldn't help them. In Failsafe, as I understand (having never read it), the threat of nuclear war is removed. (The guy wanted me to tell him about it because he had a book report to do and he didn't want to read it, so I was doubly uninterested in helping him. : ) ) Along the same lines, a book came out about people figuring out how to predict earthquakes called The Big One , which I
read and thought was a very good book, but they avert the "Big One" by lowering
nuclear warheads into the San Andreas Fault. I can't include it -- the problem
is averted. For me it's like a mystery where the apprehend the bad guy before he
has a chance to do anything bad. Yawn.
I don't really read a whole lot of End of the World Fiction these days. It's fun to fantasize about when you're single, but when you have a spouse and kids it's exactly the sort of thing you hope doesn't happen. 9/11 happened when my eldest was 9 months old, and I couldn't help but wonder at the time "Why does the World have to fall apart now that I'm married and have a kid? " Well, the World didn't fall apart thankfully, and I hope it never does. Still, it's nice to go on a flight of fancy every once in a while.
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