Wednesday, October 15, 2014

One Second After and the Apocalypse


I just finished reading One Second After by William R. Forstchen. I also recently completed reading World War Z by Max Brooks. While not shining examples of literature (they were, after all, "bestsellers") they do pose an interesting question about the trend toward apocalyptic stories. (As a side note, I recommend One Second After, World War Z, not so much.)

Perhaps more common in the science fiction genre, but certainly leaking out into the mainstream with movies such as The Hunger Games, World War Z, or even Noah, today's audiences crave post-apocalyptic or dystopian stories. More and more, we see protagonists of disease, social dysfunction, zombies, space aliens, or government.

The trend toward these types of books and movies stems from a general fear and unease felt towards many situations that seem to be out of our control (wars and disease), as well as a general distrust in our current government. Instead of having well-defined enemies in our stories, today's stories create enemies out of nature, or in the case of zombie tales, out of the unnatural. Even the rash of superhero movies (mostly the Avenger franchise) have an unfocused and shifting threat, and evil powers behind the evil powers.

During the 1950s, with the threat of nuclear annihilation, space invader and monster stories were common. Today's world is even scarier than Cold War times, with threats, not just of nuclear war, but of unseen nuclear devastation (One Second After), disease (World War Z), and the collapse of a benign American government, forming an evil empire (The Hunger Games, The Giver, Divergent).

Note that many of these stories and movies speak to teen audiences, who currently suffer from a plague of stress-related maladies. Even today's teen romances are overshadowed by great evils that threaten to destroy everything. (Many teen romances center around the thrill and dangers of vampires or werewolves.)

Now let us look at the real world and those forces which have led modern storytellers to focus on bleak and horrifying devastation.

Forstchen published his book, One Second After, in 2009, in response to his own research into the possibility of an EMP strike against the United States. The story and its conclusions are very realistic, that such a strike could destroy the US, not by directly killing its people, but by removing the very things that allow us to live in the modern day: electricity, transportation, medicine.

It is a cautionary tale, given force when we judge its conclusions against the willful disregard of the Obama administration to protect the interests of the United States. By enforcing leftist dogmas and remaking the US after his own image, Obama has opened us up to some truly evil forces that threaten to collapse society, and hence, sacrifice the lives of Americans.

It's not just Mr. Obama, it is the dogmatic lies spread by modern socialists, university professors, anarchists, perverts, and the uninformed that have created such an uncertain world, that the only way some people can escape is through stories of its total destruction.

We now write, read, and watch such stories in the theater, if for no other reason, than to assure ourselves that human will can overcome the evils present in the world today.