It was somewhere in the middle of an exasperated conversation with a fellow dachshund owner in my neighborhood that I realized- if society were to suddenly crumble- I will be among the first to die.
“You can never find shirts long enough. I mean a shirt for an eleven pound terrier isn’t going to fit an eleven pound mini-doxy that is fifty percent longer- hello!?”
Even as she nodded in sincere agreement, and with no sense of irony, I felt the cold shadows of humanities approaching winter creep up my spine, wrap their dead fingers around my neck, and begin to squeeze. As a science fiction writer most of us will have at times played out the thought experiment that inevitably goes into writing end-of-the-world stories. It usually begins with making a list of all the things that I would need to survive the coming bombs, storms, cosmic events, undead, or mood enhancing drug gone awry. Here is such a list randomly acquired from someone I know (he assumed Zombies, I don’t know why)
1. Water treatment tabs
2. 30.06 bolt action rifle with quality scope
4. Sawed off, automatic shotgun
5. 300 rounds for each
6. Several lighters
When I asked him about food he said that it could be obtained on the go. The bottom line is that this person essentially wrote all the rules to his own narrative about the end of the world in that list. He asked me at least four times for specifics and I evaded. The apocalypse he prepared for was on of his own invention. When we write apocalypse fiction we are probably putting more of ourselves in the character of the end than we would realize. In a way, the end is a character. The person I was talking to is a person that very much resents the civilizing aspects of suburban life. His apocalypse is one of forced liberation. His preparation is toward a lifestyle of free wondering with nothing holding him down. My list would have three slots dedicated to flea medication, heartworm tabs and my wiener dog’s snuggy.
…and that is why I am doomed to die. My wiener dog has a snuggy. Hell I have a wiener dog! There is no place for me in some gray skied, infernal wilderness of brinkmanship, tooth and claw. But I got news for you all, my little soldiers of the new dawn: I don’t want to live. That’s right, you can have smoking craters, and flesh melting acid rain. Enjoy the boiling armies of the walking dead, and spike wielding goon squads of The Humongous. I don’t want them. You see, I love the world I live in. I love it for all it could be and will fail to realize and it is my place in its history that I love the most. If history is to end, well then I’m out! So tonight I am going to get my dachshund’s hot dog costume out and clean it up for Halloween (he is the Halloweener after all), and if between now and then the creeping hordes of Fornax overrun the planet, well, good luck to you.
Now, the ten best end of the world films according to me:
10. Terminator -A really original twist on the “bombs shall fall” narrative that followed us through the cold war. I am probably the only person in the world that hates every one of the sequels.
9. Logan’s Run -sort of after the end of the world, but so much fun.
8. 28 Days Later -I’m not sure if it’s a zombie movie or a plague flick, but it works. Kudos to the use of God Speed You Black Emperor.
7. Planet of the Apes -Rock me doctor Zaus!
6. The Matrix -I really never saw it coming, really. I mean Keanu Reeves?
5. Twelve Monkeys -Brad Pitt at his best.
4. Road Warrior -I mean the only thing that happened was they ran out of oil.
3. Children of Men –The most unique end of the world I can think of.
2. Battlestar Galactica -this has happened before. It will happen again. Hopefully without Lorne Greene.
1. Dr. Strangelove -Ride that bomb cowboy.
The science of fiction is back for a bit as I decompress from some fiction issues. So enjoy what is to come.