Because I’ve been writing a story about a post-apocalyptic America, someone recommended “The Dog Stars” by Peter Heller. The first real post-civilization book that grabbed me was “Lucifer’s Hammer” by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle. Their book was based on the idea that a comet would hit Earth and predictably, things went poorly for human beings, and pretty much all other life forms. They also set the stage for the aftermath, with humans either coming together to help one another, or not help one another, and the role that technology would play. This was back in 1977, mind you, and a lot of things have changed since then. Or not.
Heller’s post human world is a fairly grim place with the last few survivors really not doing much more than that. Nine years after the fall, there’s not a lot of hope felt in the narrator, and it’s a grim read, so far. I’m nearly finished.
Spoiler Alert: The dog dies. Most people don’t want to read a story where the dog dies, and this one is a good dog, really.
There’s a scene in the book where the narrator, a man named Hig, gets into a shootout with bad guys, kills one of them, but allows the others to live. One of them is wearing a necklace made of body parts, so Hig decides to kill him, too. It’s a grim world, and his dog dies.
A lot of things will have to go right if things keep going wrong, in the real world, in our reality. In fiction, there’s always something that happens, some place safe, some group of people who get it right, so there’s hope.
Invariably, even in fiction, there’s conflict between groups of humans, and people die. The good guys win, plant food, harvest enough to keep things going, and life begins anew at the end. Or not, I haven’t finished Heller’s book yet. I’m busy writing about it.
“The Dog Stars” was written in 2012, the year people told us the Mayans thought the world would end. Clearly, their ability to interpret ancient hieroglyphs, was lacking. But the idea of the world ending, clearly, isn’t a new idea. The Mayan people disappeared long before the white people came along and wiped out indigenous people like a plague, and there’s been many a civilization to be uncovered that went long before over the horizon sailing was invented.
Two questions: (1) How do you envision the world ending now, during our lifetime? (2) What’s your favorite post-apocalyptic book, and why?