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Week Two Goals

This week we’re going to start turning our attention to storytelling, diving deeper into our considration of the apocalypse, and planning for this course. We’ll also be working on our WordPress sites and turning them into more personalized spaces for our storytelling.

Daily Creates

Assignment: Daily Creates

This week, make sure you complete the Daily Create on Tuesday, January 23rd and at least one other day (you pick).

Story Time

Thinking about Stories

Watch the video to the left and read the following:

  • Chapter 1 of The New Digital Storytelling (PDF in Canvas, under Files) by Bryan Alexander.
  • Twitter Fiction 

Assignment: Tell It/Tweet It

This week, you’ll complete your first assignment from the ds106 Assignment Bank: the Tell It/Tweet It assignment. Follow the instructions on that page. Make sure you add the tags listed in the “Do This Assignment” section so that your submission shows up on the assignment page.

The Apocalypse: A Starter Kit

It’s time to start thinking about the theme of this class a bit more deeply, and to do that we’re going to start by watching and reading a few things this week.

End Day

End Day was a BBC special produced in 2005 that follows a man through five different apocalpytic stories. It’s a bit cheesy, but still interesting and fun. You can watch this on YouTube (>>) but it also streams on Netflix. 

“Apocalpytic SF”

Read this entry from the Routledge Companion to Science Fiction about the genre. It gives lots of great examples. How many of these are you familiar with? (Available online through UMW Library; Also a PDF in Canvas, under Files)

Choose Your Own Apocalypse

This week, you will be picking from a selection of the first few chapters of a number of notable apoc/post-apoc novels to read from. I’ve put digitized versions of these excerpts in Canvas (you’ll find them in the “novel excerpts” folder under Files. I’d like you to read at least one of them. Eventually, you will all be picking one novel to read over the course of the semester (to help immerse you in a longer narrative about this genre). This is a chance to try out different books and see what you enjoy. You’ll get more information about choosing your novel next week, after we’ve completed some of our course planning together.

For each book, I’ve included the blurb from Amazon as well as links to both the Amazon page and the Goodreads page for that novel. You may want to read some reviews as you’re choosing. I deliberately haven’t included pages to the Wikipedia articles about these books because they frequently include complete plot synopses, but you should feel free to seek those articles out, if you like.

If you really don’t like any of the books, I’ve selected and would like to read something else, let me know.

I do ask that you choose something you’ve never read before.

The Beginning of the End (Apocalypse Z Book 1), Manel Louriero, 2012

The dead rise…

A mysterious incident in Russia, a blip buried in the news—it’s the only warning humanity receives that civilization will soon be destroyed by a single, voracious virus that creates monsters of men.

Humanity falls…

A lawyer, still grieving over the death of his young wife, begins to write as a form of therapy. Bur he never expected that his anonymous blog would ultimately record humanity’s last days.

The end of the world has begun…

Governments scramble to stop the zombie virus, people panic, so-called “Safe Havens” are established, the world erupts into chaos; soon it’s every man, woman, and child for themselves. Armed only with makeshift weapons and the will to live, a lone survivor will give mankind one last chance against…

Apocalypse Z

Amazon Page for The Beginning of the End| Goodreads Page for The Beginning of the End

The Book of the Unnamed Midwife, Meg Elison, 2016

“In the wake of a fever that decimated the earth’s population—killing women and children and making childbirth deadly for the mother and infant—the midwife must pick her way through the bones of the world she once knew to find her place in this dangerous new one. Gone are the pillars of civilization. All that remains is power—and the strong who possess it.

A few women like her survived, though they are scarce. Even fewer are safe from the clans of men, who, driven by fear, seek to control those remaining. To preserve her freedom, she dons men’s clothing, goes by false names, and avoids as many people as possible. But as the world continues to grapple with its terrible circumstances, she’ll discover a role greater than chasing a pale imitation of independence.

After all, if humanity is to be reborn, someone must be its guide.

Amazon Page for The Book of the Unnamed Midwife | Goodreads Page for The Book of the Unnamed Midwife

Brown Girl in the Ring, Nalo Hopkinson, 2001

“The rich and privileged have fled the city, barricaded it behind roadblocks, and left it to crumble. The inner city has had to rediscover old ways–farming, barter, herb lore. But now the monied need a harvest of bodies, and so they prey upon the helpless of the streets. With nowhere to turn, a young woman must open herself to ancient truths, eternal powers, and the tragic mystery surrounding her mother and grandmother. She must bargain with gods, and give birth to new legends.”

Amazon Page for Brown Girl in the Ring | Goodreads for Brown Girl in the Ring


California, Edan Lepucki, 2014

“The world Cal and Frida have always known is gone, and they’ve left the crumbling city of Los Angeles far behind them. They now live in a shack in the wilderness, working side-by-side to make their days tolerable in the face of hardship and isolation. Mourning a past they can’t reclaim, they seek solace in each other. But the tentative existence they’ve built for themselves is thrown into doubt when Frida finds out she’s pregnant.

Terrified of the unknown and unsure of their ability to raise a child alone, Cal and Frida set out for the nearest settlement, a guarded and paranoid community with dark secrets. These people can offer them security, but Cal and Frida soon realize this community poses dangers of its own. In this unfamiliar world, where everything and everyone can be perceived as a threat, the couple must quickly decide whom to trust.

A gripping and provocative debut novel by a stunning new talent, California imagines a frighteningly realistic near future, in which clashes between mankind’s dark nature and deep-seated resilience force us to question how far we will go to protect the ones we love.”

Amazon Page for CaliforniaGoodreads Page for California

Do Androids Dream of Electric Sleep, Philip K Dick, 1968

“By 2021, the World War has killed millions, driving entire species into extinction and sending mankind off-planet. Those who remain covet any living creature, and for people who can’t afford one, companies built incredibly realistic simulacra: horses, birds, cats, sheep. They’ve even built humans. Immigrants to Mars receive androids so sophisticated they are indistinguishable from true men or women. Fearful of the havoc these artificial humans can wreak, the government bans them from Earth. Driven into hiding, unauthorized androids live among human beings, undetected. Rick Deckard, an officially sanctioned bounty hunter, is commissioned to find rogue androids and “retire” them. But when cornered, androids fight back—with lethal force.”

Amazon Page for Do Androids Dream of Electric SleepGoodreads Page for Do Androids Dream of Electric Sleep

Galápagos, Kurt Vonnegut, 1985

Galápagos takes the reader back one million years, to A.D. 1986. A simple vacation cruise suddenly becomes an evolutionary journey. Thanks to an apocalypse, a small group of survivors stranded on the Galápagos Islands are about to become the progenitors of a brave, new, and totally different human race. In this inimitable novel, America’s master satirist looks at our world and shows us all that is sadly, madly awry—and all that is worth saving.”

Amazon Page for GalápagosGoodreads Page for Galápagos

I Am Legend, Richard Matheson, 1954

“Robert Neville has witnessed the end of the world. The entire population has been obliterated by a vampire virus. Somehow, Neville survived. He must now struggle to make sense of everything that has happened and learn to protect himself against the vampires who hunt him constantly. He must, because perhaps there is nothing else human left.

I Am Legend was a major influence in horror and brought a whole new thematic concept to apocalyptic literature. Several humanistic and emotional themes in this book blend the horror genre with traditional fiction: we see Neville as an emotional person, and observe as he suffers bouts of depression, dips into alcoholism and picks up his strength again to fight the vampiric bacteria that has infected (and killed off) most of humankind. Neville soon meets a woman, Ruth, (after three years alone), who seems to be uninfected and a lone survivor. The two become close and he learns from Ruth that the infected have learned to fight the disease and can spend short amounts of time in the daylight, slowly rebuilding strength and society as it was.”

Amazon Page for I Am Legend | Goodreads Page for I Am Legend

The Last Man, Mary Shelley, 1826

“A futuristic story of tragic love and of the gradual extermination of the human race by plague, The Last Man is Mary Shelley’s most important novel after Frankenstein. With intriguing portraits of Percy Bysshe Shelley and Lord Byron, the novel offers a vision of the future that expresses a reaction against Romanticism, and demonstrates the failure of the imagination and of art to redeem the doomed characters.”

Amazon Page for The Last Man| Goodreads Page for The Last Man

The Man Who Ended the World, Jason Gurley, 2013

“When Steven Glass’s third grade teacher asked his class what they wanted to be when they grew up, Steven’s classmates shouted the usual answers: “A fireman!” “A teacher!” “The President!” When his turn came, Steven said, “When I grow up I’m going to be the last man on Earth.”

Warning signs don’t come much clearer than that. ”

Amazon Page for The Man Who Ended the World | Goodreads Page for The Man Who Ended the World

On the Beach, Nevil Shute, 1957

“On the Beach is about a subject that many writers would be too afraid to discuss. It tells of the terrible effects of a worldwide nuclear war. In 1957, when the book first appeared, many people were afraid of nuclear arms and radiation. The first nuclear bomb was tested in New Mexico in July 1945. In August 1945 nuclear bombs were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in Japan, killing 70,000 people immediately. Many more died later from burns and radioactive poisoning. From 1946 until 1958 the United States tested nuclear bombs on Bikini Atoll. Those who had been living on the island were allowed to return there in 1969, but had to leave again in 1978 after the lasting effects of radiation became clearer.

This story takes place in Melbourne, Australia. There has been a terrible nuclear war in northern countries. All life has been destroyed there by radiation. In Melbourne some people are still alive. Peter and Mary Holmes and their baby daughter Jennifer are trying to live their lives as normally as possible. The story tells how life changes for this family, and for their friends and neighbours, as the deadly radiation slowly moves south towards them.”

Amazon Page for On the Beach | Goodreads Page for On the Beach

Oryx and Crake, Margaret Atwood, 2004

Oryx and Crake is at once an unforgettable love story and a compelling vision of the future. Snowman, known as Jimmy before mankind was overwhelmed by a plague, is struggling to survive in a world where he may be the last human, and mourning the loss of his best friend, Crake, and the beautiful and elusive Oryx whom they both loved. In search of answers, Snowman embarks on a journey–with the help of the green-eyed Children of Crake–through the lush wilderness that was so recently a great city, until powerful corporations took mankind on an uncontrolled genetic engineering ride. Margaret Atwood projects us into a near future that is both all too familiar and beyond our imagining.”

Amazon Page for Oryx and Crake | Goodreads Page for Oryx and Crake


The Passage, Justin Cronin, 2010

” ‘It happened fast. Thirty-two minutes for one world to die, another to be born.’

An epic and gripping tale of catastrophe and survival,The Passage is the story of Amy—abandoned by her mother at the age of six, pursued and then imprisoned by the shadowy figures behind a government experiment of apocalyptic proportions. But Special Agent Brad Wolgast, the lawman sent to track her down, is disarmed by the curiously quiet girl and risks everything to save her. As the experiment goes nightmarishly wrong, Wolgast secures her escape—but he can’t stop society’s collapse. And as Amy walks alone, across miles and decades, into a future dark with violence and despair, she is filled with the mysterious and terrifying knowledge that only she has the power to save the ruined world.”

Amazon Page for The Passage| Goodreads Page for The Passage


Parable of the Sower, Octavia Butler, 2012

“Lauren Olamina and her family live in one of the only safe neighborhoods remaining on the outskirts of Los Angeles. Behind the walls of their defended enclave, Lauren’s father, a preacher, and a handful of other citizens try to salvage what remains of a culture that has been destroyed by drugs, war, and chronic shortages of water, gasoline, and more. While her father tries to lead people on the righteous path, Lauren struggles with hyperempathy, a condition that makes her extraordinarily sensitive to the pain of others.

When fire destroys their compound, Lauren’s family is killed and she is forced out into a world that is facing apocalypse. With a handful of other refugees, Lauren must make her way north to safety, along the way conceiving a revolutionary idea that may mean salvation for all mankind.”

Amazon Page for Parable of the Sower | Goodreads Page for Parable of the Sower

The Road, Cormac McCarthy, 2006

“The searing, postapocalyptic novel destined to become Cormac McCarthy’s masterpiece.

A father and his son walk alone through burned America. Nothing moves in the ravaged landscape save the ash on the wind. It is cold enough to crack stones, and when the snow falls it is gray. The sky is dark. Their destination is the coast, although they don’t know what, if anything, awaits them there. They have nothing; just a pistol to defend themselves against the lawless bands that stalk the road, the clothes they are wearing, a cart of scavenged food—and each other.

The Road is the profoundly moving story of a journey. It boldly imagines a future in which no hope remains, but in which the father and his son, “each the other’s world entire,” are sustained by love. Awesome in the totality of its vision, it is an unflinching meditation on the worst and the best that we are capable of: ultimate destructiveness, desperate tenacity, and the tenderness that keeps two people alive in the face of total devastation.

Amazon Page for The Road | Goodreads Page for The Road

Sea of Rust, C Robert Cargill, 2017

“A scavenger robot wanders in the wasteland created by a war that has destroyed humanity in this evocative post-apocalyptic “robot western” from the critically acclaimed author, screenwriter, and noted film critic.

It’s been thirty years since the apocalypse and fifteen years since the murder of the last human being at the hands of robots. Humankind is extinct. Every man, woman, and child has been liquidated by a global uprising devised by the very machines humans designed and built to serve them. Most of the world is controlled by an OWI—One World Intelligence—the shared consciousness of millions of robots, uploaded into one huge mainframe brain. But not all robots are willing to cede their individuality—their personality—for the sake of a greater, stronger, higher power. These intrepid resisters are outcasts; solo machines wandering among various underground outposts who have formed into an unruly civilization of rogue AIs in the wasteland that was once our world.

One of these resisters is Brittle, a scavenger robot trying to keep a deteriorating mind and body functional in a world that has lost all meaning. Although unable to experience emotions like a human, Brittle is haunted by the terrible crimes the robot population perpetrated on humanity. As Brittle roams the Sea of Rust, a large swath of territory that was once the Midwest, the loner robot slowly comes to terms with horrifyingly raw and vivid memories—and nearly unbearable guilt.

Sea of Rust is both a harsh story of survival and an optimistic adventure. A vividly imagined portrayal of ultimate destruction and desperate tenacity, it boldly imagines a future in which no hope remains, yet where a humanlike AI strives to find purpose among the ruins.”

Amazon Page for Sea of Rust | Goodreads Page for Sea of Rust

Seveneves, Neal Stephenson, 2015

What would happen if the world were ending?

A catastrophic event renders the earth a ticking time bomb. In a feverish race against the inevitable, nations around the globe band together to devise an ambitious plan to ensure the survival of humanity far beyond our atmosphere, in outer space.

But the complexities and unpredictability of human nature coupled with unforeseen challenges and dangers threaten the intrepid pioneers, until only a handful of survivors remain . . .

Five thousand years later, their progeny—seven distinct races now three billion strong—embark on yet another audacious journey into the unknown . . . to an alien world utterly transformed by cataclysm and time: Earth.”

Amazon Page for Seveneves | Goodreads Page for Seveneves

The Stand, Stephen King, 1978 & 2008

“This is the way the world ends: with a nanosecond of computer error in a Defense Department laboratory and a million casual contacts that form the links in a chain letter of death.

And here is the bleak new world of the day after: a world stripped of its institutions and emptied of 99 percent of its people. A world in which a handful of panicky survivors choose sides — or are chosen. A world in which good rides on the frail shoulders of the 108-year-old Mother Abigail — and the worst nightmares of evil are embodied in a man with a lethal smile and unspeakable powers: Randall Flagg, the dark man.

In 1978 Stephen King published The Stand, the novel that is now considered to be one of his finest works. But as it was first published, The Stand was incomplete, since more than 150,000 words had been cut from the original manuscript.

Now Stephen King’s apocalyptic vision of a world blasted by plague and embroiled in an elemental struggle between good and evil has been restored to its entirety. The Stand : The Complete And Uncut Edition includes more than five hundred pages of material previously deleted, along with new material that King added as he reworked the manuscript for a new generation. It gives us new characters and endows familiar ones with new depths. It has a new beginning and a new ending. What emerges is a gripping work with the scope and moral comlexity of a true epic.

For hundreds of thousands of fans who read The Stand in its original version and wanted more, this new edition is Stephen King’s gift. And those who are reading The Stand for the first time will discover a triumphant and eerily plausible work of the imagination that takes on the issues that will determine our survival.”

Amazon Page for The Stand| Goodreads Page for The Stand

Station Eleven, Emily St John Mandel, 2014

“An audacious, darkly glittering novel set in the eerie days of civilization’s collapse, Station Eleven tells the spellbinding story of a Hollywood star, his would-be savior, and a nomadic group of actors roaming the scattered outposts of the Great Lakes region, risking everything for art and humanity.

One snowy night Arthur Leander, a famous actor, has a heart attack onstage during a production of King Lear. Jeevan Chaudhary, a paparazzo-turned-EMT, is in the audience and leaps to his aid. A child actress named Kirsten Raymonde watches in horror as Jeevan performs CPR, pumping Arthur’s chest as the curtain drops, but Arthur is dead. That same night, as Jeevan walks home from the theater, a terrible flu begins to spread. Hospitals are flooded and Jeevan and his brother barricade themselves inside an apartment, watching out the window as cars clog the highways, gunshots ring out, and life disintegrates around them.

Fifteen years later, Kirsten is an actress with the Traveling Symphony. Together, this small troupe moves between the settlements of an altered world, performing Shakespeare and music for scattered communities of survivors. Written on their caravan, and tattooed on Kirsten’s arm is a line from Star Trek: “Because survival is insufficient.” But when they arrive in St. Deborah by the Water, they encounter a violent prophet who digs graves for anyone who dares to leave.

Spanning decades, moving back and forth in time, and vividly depicting life before and after the pandemic, this suspenseful, elegiac novel is rife with beauty. As Arthur falls in and out of love, as Jeevan watches the newscasters say their final good-byes, and as Kirsten finds herself caught in the crosshairs of the prophet, we see the strange twists of fate that connect them all. A novel of art, memory, and ambition, Station Eleven tells a story about the relationships that sustain us, the ephemeral nature of fame, and the beauty of the world as we know it.”

Amazon Page for Station Eleven| Goodreads Page for Station Eleven

War of the Worlds, HG Wells, 1897

With H.G. Wells’ other novels, The War of the Worlds was one of the first and greatest works of science fiction ever to be written. Even long before man had learned to fly, H.G. Wells wrote this story of the Martian attack on England. These unearthly creatures arrive in huge cylinders, from which they escape as soon as the metal is cool. The first falls near Woking and is regarded as a curiosity rather than a danger until the Martians climb out of it and kill many of the gaping crowd with a Heat-Ray. These unearthly creatures have heads four feet in diameter and colossal round bodies, and by manipulating two terrifying machines – the Handling Machine and the Fighting Machine – they are as versatile as humans and at the same time insuperable. They cause boundless destruction. The inhabitants of the Earth are powerless against them, and it looks as if the end of the World has come. But there is one factor which the Martians, in spite of their superior intelligence, have not reckoned on. It is this which brings about a miraculous conclusion to this famous work of the imagination. ”

Amazon Page for War of the Worlds | Goodreads Page for War of the Worlds

Wasteland Vol 1: Cities in the Dust, Antony Johnston, 2007

“A hundred years after the Big Wet, Earth is broken-a barren and infertile world where the few survivors struggle for survival. When Michael, a scavenger bearing strange gifts, calls at the shanty town of Providence, the effects are devastating. Now the townsfolk must cross the deadly wasteland to Newbegin, a nearby city where the past meets the new status quo. But Newbegin’s cruel dictator is busy oppressing anyone not belonging to his church- which includes the Providence survivors.

This volume collects issues 1-6 of the series.”

Amazon Page for Wasteland | Goodreads Page for Wasteland

Wool, Hugh Howey, 2012/2014 (Novel/Graphic Novel)

“This is the story of mankind clawing for survival, of mankind on the edge. The world outside has grown unkind, the view of it limited, talk of it forbidden. But there are always those who hope, who dream. These are the dangerous people, the residents who infect others with their optimism. Their punishment is simple. They are allowed to go outside.”

NOTE: You’ll find excerpts from both the novel and the graphic novel in Canvas. You can pick one.

Amazon Page for Wool(Omnibus Novel) | Goodreads Page for Wool (Omnibus Novel)

Amazon Page for Wool (Graphic Novel) | Goodreads Page for Wool (Graphic Novel)

World War Z, Max Brooks, 2006

“We survived the zombie apocalypse, but how many of us are still haunted by that terrible time? We have (temporarily?) defeated the living dead, but at what cost? Told in the haunting and riveting voices of the men and women who witnessed the horror firsthand, World War Z, a #1 New York Times bestseller and the basis for the blockbuster movie, is the only record of the plague years.”

NOTE: You’ll find excerpts from both the novel and the graphic novel in Canvas. You can pick one.

Amazon Page for World War Z | Goodreads Page for World War Z

Assignment: Apocalpyse Starter Kit and Reading Reflection

Write a reflective post about the End Day, the Routledge SF article, and your novel excerpt(s). What did you think about the versions of the apocalpyse outlined in End Day? How would you react in the situations that were shown? Which situation was most frightening (or silly)?

What did you learn about apoc/post-apoc science fiction in the Routledge article that you didn’t already know?

What are your initial reactions to the novel excerpt you read? Is this a book you would continue to read? Why or why not?

This is a lot to cover in a single post, so feel free to touch on all of the things you watched/read, but only go in depth on one.

Assignment: Apocalpyse Archetypes

Definition of archetype

the original pattern or model of which all things of the same type are representations or copies, prototype ; also, a perfect example

This week, I’d like you to think about the types of archetypical characters that you’ve encountered in apoc/post-apoc fiction. Think about the works you’ve read this week as well things you’ve watched or read in the past. What kinds of characters did you encounter (Ex: The Survivalist) and what were their characteristics (Ex: tough, knowledgable about the natural world, driven, unyielding)? What examples of this archetype can you identify?

Share your ideas in the form below.

Site Work & Participation

WordPress Level Up

Hopefully you’re beginning to realize that WordPress is a powerful tool for publishing on the Web. You can easily organize your content into categories, you can create custom naviation with menus, and you can choose a theme that reflects your identity or aesthetic.

Assignment: Site Work

Spend some time this week thinking about what you want your site to convey about you and your work. Choose a title and tagline that reflects your choices. Then track down and customize a theme that you like.  


We need to keep actively working on building our community in this class. You may wish to review the section on participation in the syllabus.

Assignment: Participation Points

Make sure you make a point of trying to do something to participate in this class everyday:

  • Check in on Slack and share your thoughts about what you’re reading
  • Add yourself to the #blog-posts channel in Slack so you can follow your classmates and comment on what they’re posting
  • Use the #theend106 and #ds106 Twitter and Instagram handle to follow each other and share what you’re most proud of

These are just suggestions — participate in whatever way is comfortable for you and that you think helps build our community.

Class Planning

We need to start thinking about how we would like to tell our stories this semester. Starting next week, we will be diving into our first storytelling genre: writing. From there we will move into photography, design, audio and video. Every week, we’ll be doing different assignments and/or projects in a genre.  I think this class is a LOT more fun when we create those assignments around a larger story, in this case one having to do with apocalyptic and/or post-apocalyptic narratives.

Generally, I think we have two options:

  • tell stories in small groups (probably of 3-6 students) with each tying their assignments to that group story
  • tell a larger story as a class in which we all decide on an apocalyptic theme and collective unfold it together through our media assignments

While I have some ideas about what I think would work well, I really want to know what you think. To that end, please fill out the form below with your preference.  I’m also curious to know which apocalyptic genre interests you the most. There’s space to suggest something else, if you have other ideas.

Question of the Week

In the event of a zombie apocalypse, would you rather be turned into a zombie or have everyone you love turned into a zombie? Why?

Weekly Summary

Assignment: Weekly Post

Make sure you’ve completed all the assignments above and filled out the course planning form. Write up your weekly post by Monday at midnight. Remember to refer to The Guide for Writing Blog Posts for advice. 

But Wait! There’s More: Open, Online Participants

NOTE: UMW Students can disregard this section.

If you are an open, online #ds106 community member (or interested community member) and want to play along with The End, we’d love to have you. For the most part, you can just follow along with the weekly activities (feel free to participate in any and all assignments, including the course planning activity).

For assigned readings that are being distributed in our course management system, you will have to try and find them at your own library or elsewhere online. (For this week’s novel exceprts, a Kindle sample from Amazon for any of these books should be fine.)

If you’d like to join #theEnd106 Slack community, please just DM me on Twitter, and I’ll send you an invite.