9 June, 2007
Post Apocalyptic Reading
My reading lately has been of the post apocalyptic genre, partly because it’s a genre which provides more room for speculation than most science fiction.
I recently finished I Am Legend by Richard Matheson recently, a post apocalyptic vampire novel written in 1954. It was a fantastic piece of writing, and understandably a classic piece of horror writing. At several points in the book I had to stop reading and take a breather just because of the impact of some of it. I really wanted to get it finished before the film comes out so it wont affect how I imagine it.
Now I’m working my way through the unabridged version of Stephen King’s The Stand, written in 1978 and a monster at over 1400 pages. I’m over 400 pages in and the apocalypse itself is only just finishing! I’ve seen it called a masterpiece several times so I’m anticipating a good finish, although at the moment it still feels like he’s mostly just introducing the characters.
When I eventually get through that I have Mockingbird by Walter Trevis, written in 1980. Again I’ve heard good things about it, and although the newest of the three it’s still older than me, just. Walter Trevis also wrote The Man Who Fell to Earth, which was turned into the filmof the same name starring David Bowie. It was nominated for a Nebula award so I’m hoping it should be an enjoyable read.
Reading these different versions of a great tragedy befalling our race is interesting, more so because the majority of the time it’s attributed to ourselves in some way. I’ve yet to see a story in which we aren’t to blame for our own downfall in some way, however small. Maybe we think we have so much control as a race that any downfall would have to be our fault in some way? Perhaps it just makes the story more interesting, it’s the old pride before a fall adage inflicted on us as a race, to show us how helpless we would become accustomed to the luxury civilization affords us.