Apocalypse Now Is the Subject of a Blog Post

In the mood for some human-race-almost-gets-wiped-out reading? Then apocalyptic novels are the books for you.

Some of those books are also dystopian novels, but a major difference is that things like disease and nuclear bombs can bring on the apocalypse while a dystopian society can come about via (harsh) political change. Perhaps it’s not a coincidence that Donald Trump owned the New Jersey Generals in…1984.

Why do some of us like apocalyptic novels despite those books being depressing as hell? Well, they’re intense, dramatic, and cautionary — as in here’s what we don’t want to happen in real life and let’s support ways to prevent it (by trying to eradicate contagious diseases, reduce various countries’ nuclear arsenals, etc.). And of course climate change is another existential threat that many countries (but few Republican leaders) take seriously.

Readers of apocalyptic lit also wonder how they would personally react to a decimated world — even as they’re fascinated with how fictional characters deal with that scenario.

Apocalypse is on my mind after reading Philip K. Dick’s Dr. Bloodmoney, in which a 20th-century nuclear holocaust has the survivors living a rather primitive existence. Goods are bartered, decent food is scare, people travel in cars pulled by horses, and it takes months for a letter to get from New York to California. As they deal with those privations, the characters in Dick’s novel do what ultra-stressed people often do — become despondent,  behave recklessly, steal from each other, and occasionally act in inspiring ways.

It’s not clear what causes the already-happened apocalypse in The Road (Cormac McCarthy is more concerned with how his characters react to it), but the U.S. is in bad shape. The Road is also an example of how many apocalyptic — or post-apocalyptic — novels mostly focus on a small number of protagonists and a few secondary characters to bring readers into the story on a very personal level.

Novels with an apocalypse caused by disease or something else of a pandemic nature include Richard Matheson’s I Am Legend, Margaret Atwood’s Oryx and Crake, Albert Camus’ The Plague, and Mary Shelley’s The Last Man. (Shelley’s book is also quite fascinating in that its three main characters are thinly veiled versions of Percy Bysshe Shelley, Lord Byron, and the author herself in male guise.)

I should also mention Stephen King’s The Stand, one of the longer end-of-the-world-as-we-know-it novels. The bleak, haunting conclusion of H.G. Wells’ The Time Machine is apocalyptic, too — or maybe more an Earth is dying of old age thing.

Of course, apocalyptic novels can make for eye-catching movies — as with The Road and I Am Legend. And there’s the famous “Time Enough at Last” Twilight Zone TV episode — adapted from a Marilyn Venable short story — about a man who’s rather pleased with the Earth’s devastation because he can finally read in peace. (Needless to say, that bibliophile ends up barely having enough time to peruse a blog post, much less a bunch of books.)

Speaking of short stories, Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Masque of the Red Death” is also pretty darn human-race-is-in-big-trouble.

What are your favorite apocalyptic works?

(The box for submitting comments is below already-posted comments, but your new comment will appear at the top of the comments area — unless you’re replying to someone else.)

I’m writing a literature-related book, but still selling Comic (and Column) Confessional — my often-funny memoir that recalls 25 years of covering and meeting cartoonists such as Charles Schulz (“Peanuts”) and Bill Watterson (“Calvin and Hobbes”), columnists such as Ann Landers and “Dear Abby,” and other notables such as Hillary Clinton, Coretta Scott King, Walter Cronkite, and various authors. The book also talks about the malpractice death of my first daughter, my remarriage, and life in Montclair, N.J. — where I write the award-winning weekly “Montclairvoyant” humor column for The Montclair Times. You can email me at dastor@earthlink.net to buy a discounted, inscribed copy of the book, which contains a preface by “Hints” columnist Heloise and back-cover blurbs by people such as “The Far Side” cartoonist Gary Larson.

106 thoughts on “Apocalypse Now Is the Subject of a Blog Post

  1. Sheesh you took all the good stuff!

    Certainly the first thing that popped in my mind was HG Well’s the time machine. I think the collective consciousness has pick-up the notion that while a reboot of humanity via an apocalyptic event is always looming somewhere in the dark regions of our brains, a “FRANKESTEIN” monster scenario is more likely as our science grows exponentially and people seek way to profit from it.

    Sure the Orb cloud can spit out something our way or maybe the Yellowstone super volcano decides to burp, but history bears out that humanity is our own worse enemy, so I tend to like the “ virus” Pandora’s box but how about when “ALIENS” deliver doom? I had the misfortune to read Childhood’s End(Arthur C. Clarke) when I was young so I had a few restless nights. The twist brings mixes religion, science fiction and Alien invasion.

    But the apocalypse doesn’t need to be a drag, who wouldn’t want the adventure of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (Douglas Adams) 😀

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    • Guilty. 🙂 Sometimes I name too many books! “The Time Machine” is so memorable and haunting.

      Yes, there is a legitimate fear about science (and the lust for profit) running amok enough to cause a mega-disaster — something explored in Margaret Atwood’s “Oryx and Crake,” among other novels.

      Thanks for commenting, Jack! Everything eloquently said. 🙂

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          • I need to move away from politics for a bit. It really tends to take over if one lets it. I think the blogosphere has been diminished by the social media craze, so many excellent blogs gone. I commend you for keeping the blog tradition alive and this blog certainly is worthy of being included as one the top ten blogs I’ve read.

            Bernie’s Bird would agree with me if it was here 😀

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            • Thanks so much for the kind words, Jack! And I agree — with social media so prominent now, the blogosphere doesn’t seem as prominent as it was 10 or so years ago.

              I guess it’s almost inevitable for many blogs to discuss politics in an election season — especially during an election season in which things are so fascinating, disgusting, inspiring, etc. And your blog discusses things in a very original/fun/passionate way (while also discussing all kinds of other topics). But, yes, one can get fixated on anything (for instance, my wife is actively working for Bernie Sanders, and spends a LOT of time on it).

              I suppose, given the color of Bernie’s bird, it could have also shown up at a Jill Stein rally… 🙂

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  2. Howdy, Dave!

    — What are your favorite apocalyptic works? —

    Whether defined narrowly (as you did in your blog post on this occasion) or broadly (as I do in my brain most of the time), the Apocalypse is endlessly fascinating, garbed in hues ranging from the infrared to the ultraviolet and thus holding the interest of certain jaded readers — and writers — across the experiential spectrum where the very sensation of apathy, of ennui, of melancholia is both literally and figuratively unfeelable, as I discovered about half a century ago, when I was gifted with my first hardcover science-fiction book, encompassing not only H.G. Wells’ “The Time Machine” (mentioned by you) but also the same author’s “The War of the Worlds” (unmentioned by anybody): If I can accurately say I have not been bored one day in my many years on this planet, then I (most likely) also can accurately say I owe it all to the Apocalypse and my acute awareness of its deadly proximity, writ large — as in the likes of John of Patmos’ “Book of Revelation,” Gore Vidal’s “Kalki” and Kurt Vonnegut’s “Cat’s Cradle” — or small — as in the likes of Henryk Sienkiewicz’s “With Fire and Sword,” “The Deluge” and “Fire in the Steppe.”

    The Apocalypse Is Out There.

    J.J. (Alias MugRuith1)

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    • Thanks, J.J., for mentioning several books that haven’t been mentioned before and for eloquently widening the discussion while doing so. The fear of things getting REALLY bad can definitely concentrate a person on enjoying whatever pre-apocalypse years the Earth has left. 🙂

      Getting that H.G. Wells book is a wonderful gift for a young reader! Receiving a hardcover collection of Edgar Allan Poe’s riveting short stories when I was perhaps 9 or 10 is a somewhat similar fond memory for me.

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      • — Receiving a hardcover collection of Edgar Allan Poe’s riveting short stories when I was perhaps 9 or 10 is a somewhat similar fond memory for me. —

        Nice! I had to buy my own volume at a much later age, and it was a softcover, but it did have one Apocalypse after another, including but not limited to the one described in “The Mask of the Red Death: A Fantasy” that you mentioned in your blog post.

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        • Yes, Poe is usually pretty grim, but still so appealing. A number of his stories feel like mini-apocalypses (“A Descent into the Maelstrom,” “MS. Found in a Bottle,” “The Fall of the House of Usher,” etc.).

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      • Received a Poe collection around the same age– wonderful gift, though as bedtime fare, it could be an eye-opener..

        It was either that or a pallid bust of Pallas.

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  3. Many have seen the movie made of Anthony Burgess’ more famous book, A Clockwork Orange; relatively few have read it. Even fewer have read another of his dystopian works, The Wanting Seed.

    Not enough food for all due to overpopulation gives rise to officially-sanctioned homosexuality and self-sterilization, sex police and social complications involving illicit sex and worse, illicit children. Eventually, repression leads to uprising, and chaos, and cannibalism.

    Soon, there is a world war constantly being fought, which proves to be but deadly political theater, where there is no real enemy– just citizens transported to opposite sides of a perpetual battlefield who, when killed, are shipped off corporations for processing and packaging, to be eaten by the rest of society.

    There is a cyclical theory of history, which contains three phases before repeat, explained at some length. Perhaps it comports to Burgess’ notions on the subject. Seems likely, any way.

    Read the book at seventeen, but bits of it have stuck in my mind ever since– provocative and unsettling– especially the part featuring a rampant, yet mysterious plague. Prescient: the book was published in 1962.

    1984 came first, Soylent Green after….

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  4. Great post Dave..I can`t think of a single apocalyptic book that I have read. Fits well in today’s world and now the current monumental tragedy in Brussels , Paris not long before that, San Bernadino, CA . Terrorists have one thing in mind, total destruction and death of humans . Animals kills for survival and humans are killing and destroying for no particular reason at all.
    Now the current situation as you mention with Trump and Cruz spewing hate all over the Country is becoming a scary situation.

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  5. “Earth Abides” by American writer George R. Stewart is one of my all-time favorite post-apocalyptic stories, Dave. From wiki: “Earth Abides is a 1949 post-apocalyptic science fiction novel by American writer George R. Stewart. It tells the story of the fall of civilization from deadly disease and its rebirth. The story was set in the United States in the 1940s, in Berkeley, California. Isherwood Williams emerges from isolation in the mountains to find almost everyone dead.
    Earth Abides won the inaugural International Fantasy Award in 1951. It was included in Locus Magazine’s list of best All Time Science Fiction in 1987 and 1998[2] and was a nominee to be entered into the Prometheus Hall of Fame.[3] In November 1950, it was adapted for the CBS radio program Escape as a two-part drama starring John Dehner.”

    I’m not familiar with the CBS radio program but I do still have the book I purchased so many years ago and every few years I find myself drawn to re-read it.

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    • Interesting — “Dr. Bloodmoney,” the Philip K. Dick novel mentioned in my column, is also set in Berkeley (as well as other parts of the Bay Area such as Marin County).

      That said, Jack, thanks so much for mentioning “Earth Abides” and posting the description of it! George R. Stewart’s book sounds VERY worth reading, and I just put it on my list.

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  6. Kiss Me Deadly, a movie based on a Mickey Spillane book, features Ralph Meeker as detective Mike Hammer. Without knowing what he was searching for exactly, Hammer finds it, but too late– it’s a lead-lined box filled with some sort of ghastly and unstable nuclear material, which begins to glow and burn spectacularly as soon as it’s opened by fellow who suffers a fate not dissimilar to the Rove-faced guy who open up the ark box in Indiana Jones.

    The movie’s last scene shows Hammer and companion in a boat in the ocean, making their way as fast as they can from the house on the beach where the box is spewing ever more radiation and fire and death– and no one can stop it. You get the feeling that this is how the world ends. Lowbrow stuff, I guess, but haunting.

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    • I’ve never seen that movie or read that book, but they sound quite intense and memorable. Excellent description.

      Reminds me a bit of a “Star Trek: The Next Generation” episode in which the android Lt. Data is on some mission carrying radioactive material in a protective box, gets amnesia, and inadvertently poisons the population of the relatively primitive society he ends up in.

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  7. Perhaps it will amuse readers here to learn that, post 60, I enjoy cartoon shows, including several recent ones, and one in production now.

    “Adventure Time is an American animated television series created by Pendleton Ward for Cartoon Network. The series follows the adventures of a boy named Finn (voiced by Jeremy Shada) and his best friend and adoptive brother Jake (voiced by John DiMaggio)—a dog with the magical power to change shape and size at will.”

    Easily one of the most profoundly entertaining things shown on teevee these daze, original and visually arresting.

    Pertinent to the week’s topic:
    “Finn and Jake live in the post-apocalyptic Land of Ooo.”

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    • I hear you, jhNY. Some cartoon shows are just as good and/or just as profound as any other kind of creative work. Several of Pixar’s animated films (including “Wall-E”) fall into that impressive category as well.

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  8. I’ll mention “Atlas Shrugged” yet again. This is right out of Wikipedia since their description is more eloquent than anything I could write at the moment:

    The book depicts a dystopian United States, wherein many of society’s most prominent and successful industrialists abandon their fortunes and the nation itself, in response to aggressive new regulations, whereupon most vital industries collapse. The title is a reference to Atlas, a Titan described in the novel as “the giant who holds the world on his shoulders”. The significance of this reference appears in a conversation between the characters Francisco d’Anconia and Hank Rearden, in which d’Anconia asks Rearden what advice he would give Atlas upon seeing that “the greater [the titan’s] effort, the heavier the world bore down on his shoulders”. With Rearden unable to answer, d’Anconia gives his own response: “To shrug”.

    As an aside, it was great to see the Moody Blues again, but I don’t Justin Hayward felt well and it showed. He was great, but you could just tell that he couldn’t wait to get off stage so he could go lie down.

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    • I might not read Ayn Rand until the apocalypse — 🙂 — but thank you for posting that excellent Wikipedia summary of “Atlas Shrugged”! Those poor, beleaguered industrialists… 🙂

      Fantastic that you got to see The Moody Blues again, lulabelle, but sorry Justin Hayward wasn’t feeling well. Hard to stand on a stage for two hours singing and playing when that’s the case, and the guy’s in his late 60s. His/the band’s music is terrific, and continues to sound great in the band’s current form. I still have about 10 of The Moody Blues’ albums in vinyl.

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  9. Dave, for modern literature on post apocalypse settings I must recommend “World War Z”. The book was fantastic, written as a series of interviews with those who lived through the zombie apocalypse. It was a very compelling read and reminded me a bit of “Dracula” in the style.

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    • Thanks, GL! Just put it on my list — intrigued by your excellent description as well as the novel’s title. While I haven’t read very many zombie books, I’m a fan of George Romero’s “Night of the Living Dead” film and its sequels — and Bram Stoker’s “Dracula” novel.

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      • Those are both the reasons I also read the book. There was the really bad movie made based on it staring Brad Pitt. They basically made the reporter part of every event described in the book rather than recording the stories of others.

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  10. Neville Shute’s 1964 novel, “On the Beach” is a grim novel that takes place primarily in Melbourne, Australia. The Northern Hemisphere has been destroyed as a result of a nuclear war that escalated after a misunderstanding, and involved the US, Soviet Union, and China. Since Melbourne is so far south in the Southern Hemisphere, the nuclear fallout has not reached them when the novel opens. However, everyone there understands that it is just a matter of time before the trade winds bring the fatal radiation to this area. As the novel progresses, cities in Northern Australia succumb to the fallout, and the people of Melbourne bide their time. The book is about how normal people react to the impending end, keeping up hope that there is a possibility of survival, but recognizing that hope is futile.

    Another, somewhat lighter, apocalyptic novel is Kurt Vonnegut’s “Cat’s Cradle”. In this absurd novel, the same, somewhat clueless, scientist that helped create the atomic bomb has also used his scientific genius to create a substance called Ice-9. The story follows this scientist’s children to a Caribbean Island, where the madness of mankind results in the inevitable release of this terrible chemical, causing the end of the world. Like “On The Beach”, this novel was also published in the early 60’s, shortly after the Cuban Missile Crisis. Its theme seems to suggest that mankind has the capacity for great scientific achievement, but does not have the capacity to make sane decisions resulting from these achievements.

    There was a genuine paranoia that existed in the early 60’s that both of these novels really spoke to. This predates my cognizance (I was 4 years old during the Cuban Missile Crisis), but both novels really brought home the genuine paranoia that existed at the time. One can only hope that novels such as these increase the awareness of how tenuous our existence is, and how our biggest enemy to our survival as a species is our own capabilities coupled with our own irrationality. Maybe that’s why apocalyptical novel will always have a place in literature.

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    • drb, thanks for mentioning and expertly describing those two novels — neither of which I’ve read.

      Yes, the first half of the 1960s was a time of nuclear paranoia — partly genuine (as you note) and partly trumped up for Cold War propaganda purposes.

      I agree with your eloquent words about how apocalyptic novels have a cautionary function (among other reasons for being). Scientific “progress” definitely has its good points and bad points when coupled with the good and bad ways humans behave.

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    • drb and Dave, I saw the movie of “On the Beach,” as well as reading the book by Nevil Shute. I also read the book “Cat’s Cradle,” one of assigned books I had to read for a college course with the fancy title of “The Sociologic Implications of Science and Technology.” The one thing I learned most from this course, when people were just becoming interested in ecology, was the astronomical amount of water that it takes to take a shower. Now that we have entered the age when people in Flint and other communities have to somehow rely on bottled water instead of from the tap, this is becoming a very real and important issue.

      BTW, drb, I recall the Cuban Missile Crisis, and I was a little bit older than you. I went to a girl scout meeting the day it all was coming to the point when our whole meeting was focused on the fact that the whole world could blow up, especially those of us in the Mid-Atlantic Region. This was just after the days when in elementary school we had air raid drills where went into the interior hallways, put our heads down, as if this somehow was supposed to save our lives!

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      • What’s just incredible is that after all the years gone by, today President Obama is in Havana and is scheduled to meet with Castro. Who could ever have thought this would happen? One more thing that Obama has accomplished, although I know people on the left still feel betrayed by him for not being progressive enough and solved all of the many problems he has faced, and still does.

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        • Resuming relations with Cuba IS a wonderful, historic thing, Kat Lib, and President Obama deserves a huge amount of credit for it.

          I do wish he would have been more progressive in fighting Wall Street greed, not spying on U.S. citizens as much, and in certain other areas (heck, the vile Republicans would have obstructed him no matter what he did). But, overall, he has been a pretty good president. Plus he’s brainy, classy, has had virtually no scandals in his administration, etc. Trump is like a piece of dirt compared to Obama.

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        • First of all, thank you Kat Lib for pointing out the happenstance of Obama’s historic trip to Cuba as it relates to my comment. I hadn’t thought of that when I wrote the comment. It is truly amazing that the relationship with one of nearest neighbors has been estranged for over 50 years! During that time, the US has had many close relationships with countries that have had human rights abuses at least as bad (and many much worse) than Cuba’s.

          As I said, I was only a small lad when the Cuban Missile crisis occurred, but I do vividly remember the “duck and cover” drills in school. I can only imagine the paranoia that was felt at the time.

          Your college course sounds fascinating. I often wish I could go back in time to take better advantage of my college experience. Alas – youth is often wasted on the young (I think I remember that quote from “It’s a Wonderful Life”). Luckily, the University of Delaware (in my home state), offers many interesting courses for adults through their “Center for Lifelong Learning”. Folks over 55 can take these courses for a nominal fee. My wife, who is retired, enjoys them, and I look forward to taking advantage when I retire several years hence. A course titled “The Sociologic Implications of Science and Technology” sounds similar to the kind of course they offer. No tests, no assignments with these courses – just adult

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            • Thanks, drb. for your comments on both Obama’s visit to Cuba, as well as the fear that was engendered by both tensions with the USSR and the Cuban Missile Crisis. You may note that I was telling Dave below that I’m hoping to move to Kennett Square, which from previous posts, I think you may know quite well. My sister lives in the borough, but my new home (I hope) is not that far away and has a driveway and 1 car garage. Every time I go visit my sister, it’s a challenge to find a street parking space (and I’m lousy at parallel parking)!

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          • I was a bit older when those spyplane photos of missiles in Cuba made the front pages, and worked myself into a whirl of near-constant fear for the better part of a year. I’d hear planes passing overhead at night, and suddenly wide awake, I couldn’t convince myself that the end wasn’t near, so sure in my heart that it was. Things didn’t get better after I educated myself on the effects of nuclear detonations; the inevitable end looked inescapable and unrelievedly awful. Those darn gamma rays….even after the missile crisis had passed, I stayed hyper-vigilant.

            But one day next spring, I was shagging flies in a friend’s backyard,and a plane passed over as I was lining myself up under the ball. I looked away to check on the plane– and yep, the ball hit me square in the forehead. Cured!!! That was the end of my obsession over the bomb, at least that portion brought about by events in 1962.

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      • Great comment, Kat Lib! I’ll let drb respond to most of it, but to address one of your points, water conservation and water quality are indeed so important. I’ve very conscious of that. The Newark, N.J., school system is having its own problems with lead in the water (not as serious as Flint but still pretty serious) and Gov. Christie, Newark’s state-appointed schools superintendent, and other so-called “leaders” are not responding to the crisis with the ultra-seriousness it deserves. Unfortunately, when it’s mostly people of color affected, officials don’t care as much. It’s disgusting.

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  11. Hi Dave, I’ve been trying to remember a book I read back in my college days, when I was reading a lot of science fiction. The title just popped into my head, but I admit I’ll have to quote from Wikipedia as to the plot: “A Canticle for Leibowitz is a post-apocalyptic science fiction novel by American writer Walter M. Miller, Jr., first published in 1960. Set in a Catholic monastery in the desert of the Southwestern United States after a devastating nuclear war, the story spans thousands of years as civilization rebuilds itself. The monks of the fictional Albertian Order of Leibowitz take up the mission of preserving the surviving remnants of man’s scientific knowledge until the day the outside world is again ready for it.” As I read the news these days I wonder whether we aren’t heading down the same path, what with increasing tensions with North Korea and to the possibility that we will have a Trump or Cruz as our next president (who will rip up the Iran deal on “day 1” and not address climate change). Then there is still the threat of expanded wars or new ones in the Middle East and elsewhere in the world. OK, those were very depressing thoughts.

    On a happier personal note, I just sold my condo and am putting an offer in today for a small ranch home near to my sister, which will also be nearer to my other sister in Maryland. I’m thinking that I’m a little crazy to be moving from a condo to a single family home with a big yard! 🙂

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    • Hi Kat Lib! “A Canticle for Leibowitz” sounds intense and intricate. Thanks for mentioning it! The line about “preserving the surviving remnants of man’s scientific knowledge until the day the outside world is again ready for it” reminds me a bit of Ray Bradbury’s “Fahrenheit 451” and its small band of people trying to save written knowledge and literature for when it might be welcomed again in society as a whole.

      Yes, very depressing how there’s a threat of wars even worse than the ones we’ve already seen in recent years. If Trump’s or Cruz’s fingers get near the nuclear button… 😦

      Congratulations on selling your condo!!! What a relief that must be. Hope your impending offer on the ranch house gets accepted! It sounds nice for you to be geographically closer to your sisters. Yard work is not that fun (I did it for more than 21 years until 2014), but there are always landscapers looking for work… 🙂

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      • Thanks, Dave. Yes, I’m counting on that fact about landscapers looking for work! One of the good things about this house is that it’s been recently rehabbed, and the only thing I need for move-in is a refrigerator, and then air conditioning (the duct work is in place, so it shouldn’t be that big a deal, at least I hope that’s the case!). I’d forgotten about “Fahrenheit 451” but did think about “The Martian Chronicles,” in which humans feel compelled to colonize Mars because everything is so bad on Earth. This plan didn’t work out very well in the end either.

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        • Kat Lib, great that the house is virtually move-in ready! Good luck with the refrigerator and the AC.

          I’m sure you’re right that “The Martian Chronicles” is kind of a post-apocalyptic work. I haven’t read it since high school, so I don’t have much memory of it except that I thought it was terrific!

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          • Agreed, Dave, that it sometimes comes down to which community is suffering most, which is why people of color are most at risk. I’m quite happy with moving into a neighborhood that is mixed with Hispanics and African-Americans and that is mostly a blue-collar neighborhood, which is more appealing to me than a cookie-cutter neighborhood of just white Senior Citizens, which was nice, but didn’t really appeal to my heart or brain (and was may more expensive).

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            • Another thought I had is of a book I read back in, I think, the 1980’s. It was also about Doomsday, and how people had to survive after the nuclear holocaust. For the life of me I can’t remember the title or the author, but I still recall the terror I felt after reading this book. I said to my best friend that I needed to learn how to cook and garden, which were paramount to surviving the end of time here in the USA. I know a bit more about cooking these days, but I still don’t know about gardening. Maybe once I move into my new home with the big yard, I can learn about that as well. 🙂

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            • Sounds like a great, multicultural, not-too-rich neighborhood, Kat Lib! Similar to my apartment complex — and my town of Montclair in general is about 30% African-American and perhaps another 10% Hispanic, Asian, etc. Unfortunately, the town is getting less diverse as it gets pricier and more gentrified. When I moved here in 1993, it was about 40% African-American.

              Senior “communities” can be nice, but they’re rarely very diverse.

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              • I’m moving (I hope) to Kennett Square, PA, which is known as “the mushroom capital of the world.” It has already become “trendy” for people to move there, with very strong in-town shops and restaurants. It’s even got its own special “mushroom drop” on New Year’s Eve. I also alluded to this town in one of Lisa Scottoline’s legal thrillers, which brought in the fact that this was a stop on the Underground Railroad, and was known for all the ex-slaves that she rescued and brought into the area, as well as her working for the women’s suffrage movement.

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                • I hope it doesn’t get too “trendy,” which can of course eventually mean too much gentrification and too little diversity, but some “trendy” is very nice. 🙂 And I like that mushroom designation, and the Lisa Scottoline connection. (I’ve still read only one of her novels — “The Vendetta Defense” — but liked it a lot. And the author is a very friendly host of her Facebook page.) Great that Kennett Square has such a storied anti-slavery history!

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                  • Dave, I finished initialing and signing all the papers today, so unless some major problem crops up. I’ll be moving to Kennett Square sometime in the middle of May. Yah! The way we’ve set things up, it looks like I’ll have to put my cat Jessie in a boarding situation for four or so days, which neither of us will be happy about, but I hope it will all work out. Once she moves into our new home, I’m sure she’ll be happy with a much bigger place and home. I might even let her explore the outside, since she still has all of her claws.

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                    • Congratulations, Kat Lib!!! So exciting!

                      Sorry about the need for boarding, but having a cat around when moving is indeed problematic. She will definitely enjoy a house once she’s there! Our late cat Angus spent his first few years in an apartment before moving into our house, and he loved the extra space. 🙂

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  12. On Dystopian — love Margaret Atwood. see https://www.librarything.com/catalog/applemcg&deepsearch=atwood

    and in other connections: (none so first-person as yours)
    gary larson — it helps if you’re from MN to appreciate him
    charles schulz — was a MN’n, but you only need have been a child to get him
    heloise — “bought” one of my h/h’s: is the dishwasher clean or dirty? A; put the soap for the next load immediately after emptying

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  13. The Twilight Zone episode you mentioned is one of my favorites in the brilliant series. The bookish man,played so well by Burgess Meredith works in a bank. All he wants to do is read, have peace and quiet. He prefers books to people. He finds his solitude in the bank vault where he can lock himself away from his dull job as a bank teller. Then,the world ends, a bomb is dropped,the world he lives in is destroyed,in ruins. At the end of this episode filled,as so many,with a foreshadowing,the programs , ahead of their times, he sits,last survivor,amongst a broken earth,still finds books all around him. He smiles in glee,he is alone which he always preferred and had books galore to keep him company. As he leans over,looking down at the ground, surveying what is left, his glasses fall off,cracking. Now he cannot see much less read. He cries in despair,life not worth living even though he is last one standing he can no longer escape his grim reality. He can no longer escape into the wondrous world of reading.

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    • Excellent summary, Michele! In addition to being so haunting and devastating, that episode may also be TV’s most memorable moment about the love of reading.

      And Burgess Meredith WAS terrific in that role — about 20 years after playing George in “Of Mice and Men,” several years before portraying The Penguin in the “Batman” TV series, and about a decade and a half before he started playing the trainer in the “Rocky” movies.

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  14. Although I haven’t yet read ‘Dr. Bloodmoney’, I thought there was a connection to Stanley Kubrick’s’ film ‘Dr. Strangelove’.

    Here’s a Wikipedia entry with the complete title of the novel, which pretty much gives the game away:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dr._Bloodmoney,_or_How_We_Got_Along_After_the_Bomb

    Of course, your mention of a society, deprived and depraved as it is, in Dick’s novel reminds me that it is STILL somewhat more hopeful than the last shot of ‘Dr. Strangelove’. Doesn’t look very likely that anyone will survive that apocalypse.

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    • Not sure if there was any direct connection to the movie, Brian, but there was that subtitle and some similar themes — plus the novel was published during the same time period.

      And, yes, definitely different kinds of apocalyptic works — some totally depressing, some with a bit of hope.

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      • ‘Dr. Strangelove’ was based on a novel called ‘Red Alert’ by two authors (don’t recall their names). The same year another apocalyptic film, ‘Fail-Safe’ was also based on a novel, again by an author whose name I don’t recall. This was all in the wake of the aforementioned Cuban Missile Crisis. 1963, as has been mentioned, was also the year that ‘Cat’s Cradle’ was published, I believe. Definitely a lot of apocalypse going around in the culture in those years. Many of Bradbury’s doom-laden stories were written during the late 1940’s/1950’s, including all of ‘The Martian Chronicles’. As I’ve said before, that book is notorious for including the only short story I’ve ever read without any characters, human or animal. “There Will Come Soft Rains” tells the tale of a completely automated house, which still runs even though the humans have all abandoned Mars to return to their doomed home of Earth. Even though it’s safer to stay on Mars, their homesickness draws them back like a magnet to their home turf, as ruined as it may be.

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        • Thanks, bobess48!

          Yes, so much nuclear fear and other fears during that Cold War/Cuban Missile Crisis time. When I was a kid back then, U.S. politicians, U.S. media outlets, etc., made it seem like it was all the Soviet Union’s fault. Of course, there was plenty of blame on both sides.

          Well-said lines about “The Martian Chronicles”! I read that book a LONG time ago, but I have a vague memory of the “There Will Come Soft Rains” section and how amazingly powerful it was considering it didn’t have any of the usual story elements, as you noted. Ray Bradbury could write!

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          • According to wikipedia: “The film is loosely based on Peter George’s thriller novel Red Alert” One author, not two.

            Also, though exactly how significant his contribution may have been is a matter (or at least was) of some dispute, Terry Southern (Candy, The Magic Christian) had a hand in the script, as did, far more significantly, Kubrick.

            Wiki again:

            “Peter George wrote an indignant letter to the magazine, published in its September 1964 issue, in which he pointed out that he had both written the film’s source novel and collaborated on various incarnations of the script over a period of ten months, whereas “Southern was briefly employed … to do some additional rewriting for Kubrick and myself and fittingly received a screenplay credit in third place behind Mr. Kubrick and myself”.

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  15. I hope, for purposes of this post, you’ll consider a poem as a really short novel, so I can nominate Percy Bysshe Shelley’s “Ozymandias.” I find it apocalyptic enough to feel despondent, depressed, and despairing, with every read. Just the last few lines can do me in: “My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings;/Look on my Works, ye Mighty, and despair! /Nothing beside remains. Round the decay/ Of that colossal Wreck, boundless and bare/ The lone and level sands stretch far away.”

    I need a drink.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Poetry is literature — and a totally welcome topic of discussion, thepatterer!

      I read many poems by Shelley and his contemporaries as a college English major, but for the life of me I can’t remember if “Ozymandias” was one of them. That great excerpt is definitely worthy of the three “d” adjectives you used to describe it. Needing a drink — ha! — is totally understandable.

      (Coincidentally, this afternoon I just finished reading Charles Bukowski’s funny/crude/sort of charming “Hollywood” — which has more drinking than almost any novel I know of!)

      Liked by 1 person

        • Antidotes can be good. 🙂

          I plan to read more of Bukowski at some point. He’s actually kind of likable in his destitute/dissipated way (two more “d” adjectives there…). Given that he worked in a post office for a number of years, I’m sure some firsthand knowledge must have been in that novel.

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    • I ADORE that poem, thepatterer! I had forgotten the name of the poem, but I described it to my oldest brother, an avid reader. My description must have been good enough, because he resurrected it from a book of literature and gave it to me.

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    • Rather than ‘apocalypse’, I see epoch collapse. The years are not kind, and there have been so many. Time and wind have worked to erase the works and glory even human memory of the king. Dust to dust, after all. All is vanity.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Bill! I remember watching that TV movie 30-plus years ago (Wikipedia tells me it was 1983). But I hadn’t remembered it being set in Kansas City. Not sure if K.C. considered that an “honor” or not. 🙂

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