The last three posts on here have all been Christmas related. There’s a reason for that; it’s nearly Christmas. But, to be honest, I haven’t really spent all that much time thinking about Christmas yet, even though it is alarmingly close. Instead, I’ve been thinking about the end of the world.
This wasn’t a deliberate anti-Christmas reaction. It just sort of happened accidentally. The last two books I’ve read have both been about what to do in the event of an apocalypse.
The first of these books was Enemy Of Chaos which I’d bought a couple of months ago, after seeing Lelia at Interesting2009 and then reading this interview she did with Greg. When I read that interview, I got interested in the idea of Choose Your Own Adventure books (or rather, got interested in them again – I’d been a big fan as a child) and had some vague idea of doing something similar but based absolutely in the real world, and where all your choices are really mundane and have very little impact on the outcome (then I found out about Life’s Lottery and thought the idea had already been done. However, having just finished – at least I think I’ve finished – reading Life’s Lottery, the idea isn’t quite the same, the choices you make do have an impact. But then I discovered this and gave up on the idea).
In Enemy Of Chaos, depending on which path you choose, you are confronted with a number of different visions of the apocalypse (nuclear, zombie, world flooded with wax by stillness obsessed Madame Tussauds) and as it is a Choose Your Own Adventure, you have to decide what to do. How to survive. How to save the world. You.
Instructions For The Apocalypse takes the opposite approach. Rather than leaving you to make your own decisions, the book features a list of instructions Gareth Gray has prepared for his daughter to help her in the event of the “dissolution” (a series of political and environmental disasters which he predicts will take place shortly). These instructions are dotted in and amongst a transcript of a tape recording Gray also left for his daughter.
I found out about this book when one of the authors emailed me and asked if I wanted him to send me a copy. I like free stuff, so I said yes. It’s a collaboration between Rod Sweet (words) and Tim Williams (pictures) and features a series of found photographs treated in various ways.
2. Choose a location that is hidden and easy to defend. Your best defence will be obscurity. Avoid places where passersby are likely to come upon you by chance, or where you can be watched from a main thoroughfare. Consider natural obstacles like water and mountains.
13. You’re going to need people who know how to make shoes. You’re going to need people who know how to make rope. You’re going to need people who know how to kill quickly and quietly. And you will have to train them.
28. Be prepared for a variety of adverse environmental conditions. Radioactive contamination. Temperature fluctuations. Learn how to purify water in a radioactive situation.
31. Cutting. Sawing. Joining. Welding. Sharpening. Pots.
How are you going to mend pots?
The instructions highlight the main problem I have with the idea of life after the apocalypse. It sounds like a lot of work.
I guess I just don’t have much of a survival instinct. I’m not willing to struggle and fight. If I found myself in a slasher movie, I’d hope to be picked off fairly early rather than end up as the final girl. It just seems too much hassle. Surely the only appealing thing about the end of the world is that you don’t have to go to work any more. If you have to bloody barricade yourself in a supermarket and fight off hordes of zombies, or battle against selfish bastards convinced every other survivor is a threat, or learn how to grow your own crops and raise cattle, it suddenly doesn’t seem so appealing.