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Whee! It’s early evening and I’ve managed to procrastinate away an entire day by doing something I’ve been meaning to do for… well… months; namely set up this website properly. Which is an interesting phenomena in itself, procrastinating on one thing by finally doing something else that I’ve spent a seemingly endless amount of time procrastinating on. It all seems to work out in the end though, so yay me.

Now, to kick things off lets start with a quick explanation for why I’m so fascinated by apocalyptic fiction. It’s got nothing to do with morbid fantasies about the world ending, but rather it’s an offshoot of a more general fascination I have with social, cultural and individual values. I think more than any other genre the apocalypse story lends insight into the author’s perspective on their own society, and it’s relatively easy to read that from the text by applying a few simple assumptions, for instance that:

  • Those social/cultural elements which an author values highly but fears are fleeting, or at risk, are the ones prominently lost in their apocalypse.
  • Those elements which they value highly and believe are enduring form the basis of social cohesion in whatever changed world their protagonists find themselves.
  • From the negative perspective, the fearful but fleeting are represented in the ‘social ills’ that the protagonists seek to avoid repeating, and finally;
  • The fearful and enduring elements of society become the forces of antagonism within the text.

Now perhaps those categories are broad enough to apply to any genre if you read deeply enough into it, but the authors of apocalypse fiction wear their proverbial hearts on their sleeves in this regard. The zombie apocalypse is an easy example to illustrate this point with, variations in the basic lore notwithstanding.

  • Positive but Fleeting: On a personal level, the concepts of individual choice and freedom, the power of reason and self-control over pure instinct; on a social level the sustainability of personal relationships (or any relationship for that matter).
  • Positive and Enduring: Determination, the inclination to strive even in the face of a hopeless situation, and an existentialist appreciation for the moment.
  • Negative but Fleeting: In some cases the petty factionalism which a common enemy often supersedes¬†(√† la Max Brooks), resource overconsumption (which the zombies themselves represent), the frivolous and the self-indulgent.
  • Negative and Enduring: Entropy, and that general sense of unease about what the future might hold for us as a species despite our best efforts.

They’re the broad strokes. Very, very broad strokes (even within the Zombie Apocalypse genre there’s plenty of discrepancy), but you get the general idea. Each author and every text has its own nuances so it’s an endlessly interesting enterprise, even without being able to enjoy some really fun books and films. I’ll no doubt revisit this again in the future but for now I just wanted to add that with a new Red Dawn film scheduled for release hopefully this year (I gather it’s in limbo despite being nearly complete) I can’t wait to compare it to the original, which is still one of my favourite examples of Cold War cinema; dating as it does from a time just before we discovered what a basket case the Soviet Union really was.


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The Dose

What if every act of imagination were the seed from which a new universe grew?
What universes would you then be responsible for having crafted from the ether of the multiverse?
Mine may well be full of zombies, soviet invasions, apocalyptic wastelands, strange empires and their even stranger inhabitants, but I'd like to think that despite their idiosyncrasies they all share a general sense of hope for their respective futures.

My own little universes, made to scale...
They are the Markrocosm.
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