My writing group noted that my new story, though a different setting, is also a post-apolcyalypse tale, or at least post-disaster. One colleague included my novel in that theme, even though in my novel things are good, but about to get worse. It’s pre-apocalyptic, she said.
Something in that. My faith is that humanity will persist, but a lot of bad things are going to happen. By the standards of the past they already have. Like my mentor Philip K Dick, I’m less pinpointing details of the great shift, just exploring scenes after upheaval, where people have adapted to far different norms of environment and behavior. I no doubt absorbed this from my family history, for my parents fled war and Soviet occupation, and my own late 20th century life, where we took on huge social changes, and where the rest of the world changed vastly more. I greatly admire writers like Jim Shepard and Harlan Ellison, who change up place and time each story yet keep consistent in their approach and style.
Perhaps I’ll be more sensitive to this strain of pre-apocalyptic. I hope it will give me a way to glide across genre. I would enjoy writing historical.
With perfect timing for this insight, The New York Times features Paul Kingsnorth, who has abandoned environmentalism. He now seeks the spiritual and artistic space to mourn the damage we’ve done and the bad times to come. I’ve ordered copies of his novel The Wake, a story of English guerrillas fighting William the Conqueror, and of the poetry of Robinson Jeffers who Kingsnorth favors. I am not sure I am as downhearted as Kingsnorth, nor as opposed to serious attempts at mitigation, from LED lights to new solar technology. But I take his point about looking ahead not behind, not at a failed strategy but at life under a slow apocalypse, for a very long time to come.