There’s something reassuring in stories about the end of the world. Not the end of the world itself—that part’s usually a serious bummer. But as long as the story doesn’t end there, it means that, somehow, someone survives.
Over at The AV Club, Clayton Purdom wrote about what he calls “prepper fantasies” in post-apocalyptic fiction. These stories aren’t about just surviving the end of the world, but flourishing in it—to whatever extent that’s possible. Even if these characters weren’t preppers before, once society falls apart they find themselves leaning on homesteading skills for what’s sometimes a really decent kind of life.
Purdom highlights A Quiet Place as a version of this fantasy, the “family’s quiet hovel … an urban parent’s dream of a farmhouse getaway, with acres of land and downtime.” It’s not just the simplicity that’s appealing, but the self-sufficiency. It brings to mind Cal and Frida’s homestead in Edan Lepucki’s novel, California, or the God’s Gardener’s compound in Margaret Atwood’s The Year of the Flood. Yeah, the world is falling apart, but that world is also very far away. These characters have found escape and refuge. As long as you can bake your own bread and do basic first aid, the whole world can be yours.
Stories about surviving the apocalypse are hardly new, but in 2018 there might be a new urgency behind the idea of being able to adapt and survive in a rapidly changing world. Whether the danger in the world is a zombie plague or climate change, we’re into stories that show that the end of the world isn’t really the end, and there’s always a version of hope.
Now to sign up for that urban gardening class…