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.
Assignment: Daily Creates
Assignment: Tell It/Tweet It
The Apocalypse: A Starter Kit
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.
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
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
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.
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…
The Book of the Unnamed Midwife, Meg Elison, 2016
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.
Brown Girl in the Ring, Nalo Hopkinson, 2001
California, Edan Lepucki, 2014
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.”
Do Androids Dream of Electric Sleep, Philip K Dick, 1968
Galápagos, Kurt Vonnegut, 1985
I Am Legend, Richard Matheson, 1954
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.”
The Last Man, Mary Shelley, 1826
The Man Who Ended the World, Jason Gurley, 2013
Warning signs don’t come much clearer than that. ”
On the Beach, Nevil Shute, 1957
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.”
Oryx and Crake, Margaret Atwood, 2004
The Passage, Justin Cronin, 2010
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.”
Parable of the Sower, Octavia Butler, 2012
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.”
The Road, Cormac McCarthy, 2006
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.
Sea of Rust, C Robert Cargill, 2017
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.”
Seveneves, Neal Stephenson, 2015
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.”
The Stand, Stephen King, 1978 & 2008
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.”
Station Eleven, Emily St John Mandel, 2014
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.”
War of the Worlds, HG Wells, 1897
Wasteland Vol 1: Cities in the Dust, Antony Johnston, 2007
This volume collects issues 1-6 of the series.”
Wool, Hugh Howey, 2012/2014 (Novel/Graphic Novel)
NOTE: You’ll find excerpts from both the novel and the graphic novel in Canvas. You can pick one.
World War Z, Max Brooks, 2006
NOTE: You’ll find excerpts from both the novel and the graphic novel in Canvas. You can pick one.
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
Assignment: Site Work
Assignment: Participation Points
- 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.
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
Assignment: Weekly Post
But Wait! There’s More: Open, Online Participants
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.