As I mull over the unedited draft of Sanctuary, watching the emails go out to the newly recruited Beta readers like so many newly-hatched birds on their virgin flights, I can’t help but wonder how we, as a species, would really cope with an event like the one in the books.
Having had long discussions with Mrs F over the staggering number of emails received in response to the advertised vacancies, I’m actually starting to think that we might be better off than we think. Sure, it’s easy to label anyone under the age of 30 of having grown up in a soft world of computers and that new-fangled eeelectricity stuff. Even easier to berate the youth of today for having their heads permanently in a screen of some sort.
Having had even the smallest glimpse of what you, the readers, have done with your lives makes me think that we might not be the doomed kind of shaved apes that I was growing ever increasingly concerned about.
I mean, flip me, some of you lot would make better characters than those in the books!
But, if I may (some would ask if I’m capable) be serious for a minute or two, ask yourselves if you really could do it…
No electricity, no communications, no switch on the wall to make the house warm instead of putting on layers and finding shelter. No easy way to cook food, no services available and nobody around to help with the difficult stuff.
You know, like the 80’s but even harder.
I’ve come to suspect, after starting out on this genre thinking that most of us would fold in an instant if they couldn’t buy their dinner from a fast food outlet, that maybe people enjoy the whole end-of-the-world stories for an entirely different reason.
Maybe, just maaaaaybe, people like this genre because they actually wish it would happen.
Think about it.
No rules, no hierarchy, true (and I mean this word in the purest sense) anarchy.
absence of government and absolute freedom of the individual, regarded as a political ideal
I mean, you could win the lottery. Buy a mansion, a few McLaren’s. Maybe a Ferrari or two and get a winter spot in the Caribbean, but would you always be happy with that? (I assume many of you are nodding like demented dogs at this point, but read on…) Would you always be happy with that? Nothing would come at any price, not a real price which meant anything anyway. Nothing would feel earned, and ultimately everything would eventually feel meaningless.
Apply the concept: save up, work hard, put down the deposit for a nice car and keep working hard to pay for the monthly instalments. Work hard, save up for a deposit, beg the bank to lend you more and get a house, spend the next 357 years paying off the interest.
It’s the same with anything you want; if it didn’t demand a sacrifice from you in some way, then you will eventually see it as meaningless. Easy come easy go.
Flip that concept on it’s bonce (that’s ‘head’ for anyone not Midlands UK based); if even a small journey to gather a few supplies came with an element of danger, and making it back in safety with a respectable haul goes to plan, how good would that cold can of beans and sausages taste then?
If the tree takes you a whole day to chop down, another three to chop up into logs and an entire year to season, then how satisfying would the next winter’s fire feel? Sitting there feeling all toasty and warm and thinking, “Hell yeah. I chopped that wood!”
My point, if – as always – I even have one in mind, is that people are attracted to the concept of the apocalypse because it gives a glimmer of hope that the world will be returned to a more simple state. Erased debts. A fresh identity. A new start.
I promised myself that I wouldn’t get political (and believe me I’ve held my tongue on a number of international matters!) it was recently commented to me in jest that I would have to change my bio in the future from ‘post apocalyptic fiction writer’ to ‘journalist’, but if the midden did indeed strike the windmill, would it be such a terrifying concept to as many people as we think it would?
So, anyway, I’d happily test the theory to see if my life indeed felt empty as I sat on my imaginary Bahaman villa’s private beach, glancing at the sleek lines of the unobtainable Porsche 918 Spyder, to see if I eventually found the world an empty, vapid environment.
If that never happens, however, I’d be just as happy to see how I’d fare in the post apocalyptic world.
(Just kidding! Bahamas and fast cars all the way!)