Not Coming To A Book Near Me

By Serdar Yegulalp on 2020-04-04 17:00:00-04:00 No comments

Charles Stross recently wrote a blog post where he noted that he's probably not going to write a novel about a zombie-apoc pandemic, because COVID-19 reified a lot of what he wanted to put into the story:

... because we are all getting a real world crash-course in how we deal with people suffering from a viral pandemic, and we do not generally deal with them using shotguns and baseball bats even if they're so contagious that contact might kill us.

Because—fuck my life—writing plausible near-future SF in the 21st century wasn't hard enough already.

Few things age faster than SF in the postmodern moment. But that got me thinking about all the stories I am either probably not going to write, or never felt inclined to write.

One category I know was never on the list was post-apoc, or apoc-in-general, whether by way of zombies, viruses, grey goo, or mutated windup toy dogs. I've never been interested in reading such stories (The Walking Dead has never held any appeal for me whatsoever), and it took me some internal hemming and hawing to realize my disinclination was both philosophical and aesthetic.

For one, I don't think society is as fragile as apoc-meisters like to think it is, and I think the fascination with post-apoc "reboot the world" settings stems from the delusion that if the world ends, it'll only end for all those unlucky other people, because We Lucky Few will have guns and seedlings. It's a faithless worldview that I simply don't share, and which has far too much xenophobia and straight-up racism encoded in it for me to enjoy even as mindless entertainment.

The other part is that I'm not interested in creating, or experiencing, what amounts to a justification for an apoc worldview. If society is really that fragile, then writing pornographic fantasies about how it can all fall to pieces (and how an elect group will prosper in the Coming Weird Times) strikes me as the wrong way to go about examining the issue, and a waste of effort besides.

I also don't think I have anything useful or insightful to say about such a situation that others haven't explored better (or at least more entertainingly). If I did anything like that at all, it would most likely be in the vein of something like the Mad Max saga — as mythology rather than some kind of pseudo-analytical speculation about what we'd do when all the gasoline and toilet paper ran out.

Tags: apocalypse fantasy science fiction writing