Thursday, November 15, 2012
This is the Way the World Ends
Trouble is, the Mayans failed to specify just how the world will end. Did they mean literally? Metaphysically? Symbolically? Or did the calendar stop because they ran out of stones, and we’ve been working ourselves into a panic all these centuries for nothing? Damn ancient mysteries. Why can’t they be less mysterious?
There are a number of ways humanity can go down the toilet, and fiction has explored a lot of them over the years. Because I need a blog topic, so shall we today.
We’ll start with the most recent—Revolution, a TV show I’ve never seen but have been following through comments on a writers’ forum. Revolution postulates what would happen to the world if all the electricity suddenly went off and couldn’t be restarted. Well, we’d all die, because brains run on bioelectrical impulses, but that wouldn’t be much of a show. Fifteen years after the world went dark we’ve gone back to the Middle Ages, with swords and bows and stuff. For some reason guns don’t work. Why not? We were making and shooting guns well before Ben Franklin flew his kite. I’m sure the many flintlock and muzzleloader gun clubs would have no problem shooting anyone who claims, “Your gun can’t function now.”
If you need to survive in a powerless world, I’d head for a state with a large Amish community. They’ve been operating quite well without electricity for centuries now. They’ve got blacksmiths to work metal and forge equipment, and they grow their own food. Swords? How’d you like to get a hoe in your back? And then you can grow breakfast afterwards. I’ll have to watch the show now to see if they reach the logical conclusion and have the Amish take over the world. I can think of worse fates.
Here’s PETA’s favorite end of the world scenario: Planet of the Apes. Humanity nukes itself back to the Stone Age and the damn dirty apes take over. That wouldn’t be so bad if the monkeys hadn’t duplicated most of our mistakes. Since we share so much DNA with our anthropoid cousins, I suppose that’s to be expected. Back in the ‘70s comic book artist Jack Kirby took the concept a step further with Kamandi, the Last Boy on Earth, in which all animals got intelligent and bipedal and took control of the planet. Except horses, because the tigers and gorillas were at war and needed something to ride into battle. Horses and humans always get the short end of the intelligence stick in these scenarios. Wonder how much DNA we share with a horse?
Haven’t read The Hunger Games. Don’t know how that world came about. Nuclear holocaust or high taxes? Clearly somebody didn’t like kids because they send them off to kill each other. I’ll go out on a limb and guess some disgruntled high school teacher ended this world. Probably got fed up with all the kids texting each other in class. Pay attention in school, kids! You might be saving the planet!
My favorite novel of global destruction is Stephen King’s The Stand. After years of nuclear skirmishing and governmental pissing contests, humanity gets wiped out by the flu. Nature thumbs its nose at us and has the last laugh. I’m not so sure this would automatically lead to a good-vs.-evil God takes on the Devil scenario, but up until the supernatural plotline takes over Stevie does a bang-up job of showing us just how gross a major city (New York, in this case) can become with flu-ridden corpses clogging the streets. Some kind of bio-plague is the most likely end for us, kiddies, so stock up on Kleenex now.
Or maybe the world won’t end at all. Maybe we’ll get Gene Roddenberry’s view of the future and we’ll all be zipping through space to unknown worlds a hundred years from now. I like that one, especially if hunky Vulcans and well-endowed Klingons are out there waiting to score with us Earth girls. Yeah. Screw the Mayans. I’m opting for this world.
But better start hoarding toilet paper, just in case in I’m wrong. You never know. We’ve got a month. Make it count!