Today at lunch, a friend asked me to define apocalypse. We had been talking about this blog, about an upcoming End of Days-themed art exhibit, and why all sci-fi seems (to him) to be apocalyptic.
To him, apocalypse means the end of everything–the total destruction of the world and everything in it, à la Revelations. For me, sure, it could mean that, but I prefer to take a broader view. In my world, and the world of this blog, I define apocalypse as a catastrophic event. That event could be:
- Global–a meteor hitting the earth, climate change
- Regional–the Irish potato famine, the black plague
- Local–tornado, earthquake, wildfire
- Personal–losing a loved one, losing your job or your home, learning you have cancer
When my neighbor Ann was diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer that had already metastasized to her bones, she became suddenly interested in apocalypse fiction, perhaps looking for models for how to survive, perhaps looking for ways to handle the worst, perhaps looking for ways to put her illness into perspective. When she asked me for recommendations, I gave her my short list. When she asked me why I love apocalypse fiction so much, my answer was even shorter: hope.
Hope is the foundation of most apocalypse fiction, and perhaps all prepping and survivalism. The belief that there is a chance, and that maybe, with a little work and luck, we can improve that chance. That even if the world does devolve into Mad Max, that somewhere out there lies Tomorrow-morrow Land, where the children will be safe. Somewhere out there lies a place where the sick will be healed.
Perhaps that is what drives us to stock up on staples at the onset of autumn, knowing that cold and flu season isn’t far behind. For my part, I hauled out to Costco on Thursday for discount tinned fish, a 12 pound bag of short grain brown rice, and two 48 count boxes of extra strength Mucinex. Protein, carbs, and medicine–the best bang for my buck. All I need now is a case of chicken broth since Ann isn’t here to bring that to me anymore. The loss of soup when sick isn’t a catastrophe, the loss of Ann, that’s another story.