Sunday, April 21, 2013

Apocalypse in Science Fiction by Joe Vadalma

Joe Vadalma is the author of 38 science fiction, fantasy and horror novels, in moods from the profoundly serious to the wildly comic. He is best known for his multi-volume Morgaine the Witch series.
Joe seeks inspiration for this blog.
One of the reoccurring themes in science fiction is the end of the world, or at least the end of civilization. It is not surprising since there are many ways that this could actually come about. Also, prophets have been predicting catastrophic disasters from the time men learned to speak to each other. Two popular ones lately are global warming and an asteroid strike. So we have a choice of drowning when the ice caps melt or being smashed to atoms by a big rock.

For a while, when a few people caught bird flu in Asia, pandemics were all the rage. In the latter half of the twentieth century, everyone was betting on an all-out atomic war, but that fizzled when the cold war ended. Recently, I read article about a scientist who said we could all die from a burst of gamma ray radiation from a nearby supernova explosion. As the clock struck midnight ushering in the year 2000, all the computers were supposed go mad because they only had the last two digits of the year and could not distinguish between the twentieth and twenty-first century (which to some people did not start until 2001 anyway.)

Anyway, science fiction authors love to write about Armageddon of one sort or other. Here are some of my  personal favorites. There are two by John Brunner. The first is Stand on Zanzibar where civilization is brought to an end  because of overpopulation. Overpopulation as threat seems to be no longer in vogue. I guess because there are so many ways of dealing with overpopulation. For example, nuke the excess or give everybody a gun and give them leave to hunt and kill everybody they hate.

The second book by Brunner is The Sheep Look Up which is about pollution. We are pretty certain that is the most likely end that we face.

There are many atomic war novels. These were especially popular during the cold war years. The funniest was the movie Doctor Strangelove, where a deranged general starts world war three because of his erectile dysfunction. I also like the novel On the Beach by Nevil Schute, which was also made into a good movie. In this novel, the last people on earth after an atomic war are living in Australia waiting to die from the radioactivity produced by all those hydrogen bombs going off. Probably my all time favorite about a post apocalyptic world is Canticle for Leibowitz by Walter Miller where a monk finds an artifact from our civilization after civilization has gone back to the dark ages.

One of the more interesting ways that the human race comes to an end is a little known book called The Black Corridor by Michael Moorcock. In this short novel, bigotry runs wild so that everyone kills everyone else that is different from himself or herself. It's a real chiller. I got goose bumps reading it.

Invasions by aliens is another possibility that could end the human race. My favorite is Footfall by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle, where the invaders look like elephants.

An old movie that's fun is When  Worlds Collide where a group of scientists and a chosen few race to build a spaceship to escape from a collusion between earth and another planet. The one thing I never quite understood was where the planet they were headed for was located

I liked the TV miniseries The Stand by Stephen King as the survivors of a pandemic meet up at the cabin of an old woman and go fight the devil in Las Vegas.

Of course there are many more great science fiction novels and stories about the Apocalypse, but those were some of my personal favorites, because they each have a slightly odd slant to the end of the world.

I have written one novel about Armageddon myself. It is called Morgaine and Armageddon and has a lot of stuff in it based loosely on The Book of Revelations of the Christian Bible.  If you are interested in reading it in eBook format, the book can be obtained from Amazon or Barnes and Noble

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