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The End of the World

I engage with a lot of sci-fi and fantasy content and I think it’s fair to say that a significant proportion of it, especially recently, is predicated on some kind of post-apocalyptic scenario, whether in the future or as alternate reality / history. Very rarely is it the projected ‘evolution’ of our current trajectory. This is understandable and, as a story-telling device, can be very effective as it allows for the exploration of ideas and challenging of norms within a relatable and accessible frame of reference i.e. the world as it was ‘before’.

But it struck me this week (when I was [probably inappropriately] joking that the recent drone attack could in fact be the start of the rise of the machines) that a post-apocalyptic world is technically an oxymoron. In the standard definition (although there are varying interpretations of course) the apocalypse is the end of everything. There can be no ‘after’, or at least nothing recognisable left to experience and relate it.

And yet there always is. In every instance there are those who survive and endure and regroup and rebuild, who not only carry on but aspire to a better world where we learn from the past to create a better future.

And in that way, we have our own individual and collective apocolypseseses (?) all the time – it sounds dramatic but it is dramatic when your whole world undergoes a massive, irreversible shift. Whether it is your health, your wealth, your environment or your community, most of us will have experiences at some point where we come through the other side but nothing is as it was, and we have to go through the painstaking process of recreating and redefining everything around us.

I was brought up to be fairly pragmatic and the phrase “it’s not the end of the world” came up quite a bit throughout my formative years. I don’t have a lot of patience for needless drama. But every once in a while it is the end of the world*, and when it does happen downplaying it or ignoring it or denying it is not as helpful as figuring out how you’re going to survive and what you want to build on the other side.

It seems to me that such tales are really stories of hope. Bring on the Apocalypse…

*Unless you can assemble an angel, a demon, a witch, four kids and a hellhound in time in which case you can probably get it called off