At GGSA, we’re all about the preparation. When the apocalypse comes – whenever and however it comes – we want you to be ready. So we’re more than happy to share io9‘s reading list of novels that could help you prepare for a future pandemic.
From Camus to Cronin via Shelley and Matheson, there’s something for everyone… so get reading!
Are there any books you’d add to the list? Which novels will you turn to when the time comes? Tell us in the comments, and help us to build the GGSA library!
Ok, this may seem like an odd one, it’s an 80’s power chord song we all associate with Stallone rather than the end of the world. The video I am linking to however is the end credits of an episode of Supernatural and Jensen Ackles having fun with the song.
Really, who knows more about the end of the world than the Winchester brothers. Embedding is sadly disabled, but here is Dean doing Eye of the Tiger
Also check out these lyrics, they may not be intended for the apocalypse but they still have value.
Risin’ up, back on the street
Did my time, took my chances
Went the distance
Now I’m back on my feet
Just a man and his will to survive
So many times, it happens too fast
You trade your passion for glory
Don’t lose your grip on the dreams of the past
You must fight just to keep them alive
It’s the eye of the tiger
It’s the thrill of the fight
Risin’ up to the challenge
Of our rival
And the last known survivor
Stalks his prey in the night
And he’s watching us all with the
Eye of the tiger
Face to face, out in the heat
Hangin’ tough, stayin’ hungry
They stack the odds
Still we take to the street
For the kill with the skill to survive
Risin’ up straight to the top
Had the guts, got the glory
Went the distance
Now I’m not gonna stop
Just a man and his will to survive
This issue of Ask the Experts we present genre-fiction expert and culture blogger Alasdair Stuart.
Alasdair is a freelance journalist who first found out about the end of the world from the seminal BBC drama Edge of Darkness and family discussions about the best ways to deal with nuclear fallout. This instilled a healthy respect for doom in him, which grew into a fascination with horror and genre fiction. He has unleashed countless Armageddons upon us all as the host of Pseudopod, the Parsec-Award winning weekly horror podcast. He’s preparing for the end of the world by climbing, cycling, swimming and studying several martial arts.
What’s your favorite apocalypse scenario and why?
I have two. I always rather liked a New Zealand movie called The Quiet Earth where everyone bar a few people simply disappear. The world is intact, everything’s there it’s just most people… aren’t. That’d be interesting, in a very Twilight Zone-ish sort of a way. It’s a lonely apocalypse rather than a noisy one but it’s an apocalypse nonetheless.
My other favorite has been and always will be the ‘Earth gets knocked off orbit and plummets towards sun’ premise of The Day The Earth Caught Fire. Aside from having one of the best endings in movie history, it’s a fascinating, unflinching look at what we do to survive, to cope, when everything else is falling apart around us. Plus, the arid, barren wasteland much of the Earth would become does lead to unlimited Mad Max cosplay opportunities.
Name one thing everyone should do to be prepared for the end of the world?
In the immortal words of Rockhound, ‘Embrace the horror!’. The world’s ended. You are not okay. No one is okay. That’s okay. Which may of course be the title of my Post-Apocalypse Therapy Book. Get safe first, if you can, get some provisions, get some heat and then take your brain off the hook. Everything’s over, and you, lucky or unlucky, are still here. That means you have stuff to do. That means you’re going to be working, hard, for the rest of your life. That also means that you need to take some you time because it may be the last time you get it. So freak out. Trust me, you’ll get bored and come back to the world way sooner than you think.
Where’s the line between being prepared and obsessing over uncontrollable future events?
The point where you find yourself watching the news 24 hours a day.
-Climbing harness, shoes, and watermelon helmet. Which is a helmet that looks like a watermelon not a helmet made of watermelon. That would be weird.
-MMA gloves. Not because I’m planning on stepping into the cage post-Armageddon, although let’s face it, somewhere in Australia, Tina Turner will already be building the Thunderdome. I’d go with these because they’re warm, they’re tough, they’ve got near total finger mobility and if I do get into it, I’m much less likely to break my hands on a zombie’s face if they’re wrapped.
-Water purification tablets.
-A windup torch.
-A windup radio. The BBC will, let’s face it, be one of the last things to go so as long as I have access to them, I’ll know how bad things are.
-Glow sticks or road flares.
-A map marking the nearest high ground, and routes out of the city. If possible, and let’s face it this is doubtful, it would also map out gas stations, supermarket warehouses and reservoirs.
-A silver foil emergency blanket, because sometimes you just have to.
What three things will you most miss about modern society?
The constant stream of information. I live in America, without cable, as I write this and even now I’m swimming in signal. Internet TV, podcasts, radio, social media, newspapers, TV and music all bounce around me and that sense of being deep in a pool of signal, and potential, is something I love. I’ll miss that the most, so I suspect I’ll be one of the people helping build oral histories.
Tea. I know, I know it’s terribly Arthur Dent but I love tea, nothing else gives you that weird combination of wakefulness and relaxation. So there will be regular raids on supermarket warehouses or I’ll just learn to make nettle tea or something.
Really good bread. I know we’re going to end up with bread again, pretty quickly in fact, but I’ve seen The Hunger Games, I know how inexact a science that is. Give me paninis or… give me paninis later when we can make them again.
Which cultural institution would you die to defend? Electricity, the internet, printed books, etc.
Cinema. Doesn’t matter what either, but somehow there has to be a way to project stories on a big wall and take people away. Escapism isn’t just a luxury it’s a necessity and at every single bad time in my life, cinema has helped me get out of my head for a couple of hours and escape. Plus, post apocalypse, cinema has an added educational element to it, one which a couple of post-apocalyptic movies, like Reign of Fire and The Postman, have addressed. Cinema takes us out of our heads and teaches us how to live with each other and crucially, does that as a group. It’s entertainment, history, escapism and community building all in one.
What’s the most important thing the survivors have to remember above day to day survival?
Patience. Hell isn’t just other people, it’s the only other people you’ll ever know, so try and be patient with your fellow refugees. One of the best ways to do this is be honest, tell people when they’re irritating you and tell them to do the same. The group might splinter, there may be fights, but it’s better to get it done now rather than six, seven months down the line. Society is rebooting itself at every level all at once so the good news is you don’t have to be polite about the guy in the SUV’s flatulence, but the bad news is he doesn’t have to be polite about you making stirring speeches all the time. Work it out, bleed if you have to, but work it out because your lives depend on these people.
When do you open the door, i.e. how to you pick and choose between refugees, or do you leave them to their fate?
Someone once pointed out that inside ten feet, a knife will beat a gun in most fights. Adrenalin cuts off higher motor functions once you get above 170 heartbeats per minute so in the time it takes you to warn the knife wielder that you’ll shoot them they’ve closed with you and suddenly it’s their ballgame. Outside ten feet, the knife wielder has other options, the most important of which is running the hell away.
That’s a good maxim to work with. If the zombies/robots/zombie robots/time displaced zombie robot pirates/delete as applicable are under ten feet away from the door, keep it closed. However, let’s face it, no plan survives contact with the enemy, and the cold, hard decisions are the ones we tend to be pretty bad at. So, very aware as I am the consequences of this, I’d open the door for anyone who could get to it and wasn’t part of why the reason for the apocalypse. It’s the flawed, dangerous, human thing to do.
How do you make sure you aren’t caught short when the day comes, i.e. avoiding “I left my apocalypse kit in another car”?
Keep a list of what you need, and know where you can get it if you don’t have it on you.
Keep, at the very least, your phone with you and have a message, detailing where you are and where you’ll be, pre-written to send to your loved ones just before the networks drop.
Keep moving towards your destination, and be prepared to go around if through isn’t an option.
For what person or thing would you break all the rules and go back anyway?
I’m going to Kobyashi Maru this question, twice, no less. Firstly, my girlfriend, I strongly suspect, is the lady driving the tank I’m about to jump INTO so I have no worries about having to go back for her. My family live far enough away that they’ll either be fine and we’ll meet up further down the line or it will already be too late and in terms of stuff? I travel pretty light these days.
So I’m going to say my iPhone, because I figure it’s going to take at worst, three to four weeks for the communications grid to drop all the way. Even then, hopefully, we’ll have met up with a couple of grizzled First Responders who can give us access to their encoded networks which means we can jury-rig a transmitter of sorts, leave recorded messages for any survivors and post regular bulletins about what’s happened, where’s safe, that kind of thing. Throw in a windup charger and I’m good to go.
Keep Your Powder Dry,
Proof our message is getting out there and women are preparing for the apocalypse: even mainstream advertising has noticed. See the whole story on this advert over at Tecca: Zombie Ride is a short one-minute film created by Josh Soskin as an entry into the Mofilm Barcelona 2012 Video Contest.
I had to follow up who’s next with this little love song for serial killer/zombie fancier types. It’s not really an end of the world track, but it has a suitably sinister note in spite of the chirpy piano playing.
On a personal note, I will always associate this song with Newcastle train station and my old uni flatmate Jolanda. Enjoy.
Hello all! “Sounds of Survival” will be an ongoing spotlight of apocalypse themed audio fiction.
Our first selection, “Forbidden Feast at the Armageddon Cafe“, is a part of the Pseudopod flash-fiction special “Flash on the Borderlands XI – Fearful Fashions.” Written by John Nakamura Remy and narrated by Kane Lynch, the story presents a disturbing and dark look into post-apocalyptic dining.
As with all Pseudopod offerings, the story is not for the faint of heart, or weak of stomach
Keep Your Powder Dry,
A lot of the kitch out there marketed at would-be time travelers works just as well as apocalypse survival gear. Knowing a few basic equations, or having a copy of “The Way Things Work” can make the difference between rebuild society and living in caves.
Here’s a clever example – a handy t-shirt you can wear with the basics of flight, health, technology and chemistry.
Available from ThinkGeek, fine purveyors of geekwear.
Keep Your Powder Dry,
If you are a trekkie you will know Seven of Nine. She appears in Star Trek Voyager, a borg rehumanised by Captain Janeway, she’s the Voyager answer to Data or Spock, and she’s awesome. This beautiful borg has a lot to teach us about adaptation, determination and being a tough cookie.
What’s her deal?
Seven of Nine was captured by the Borg along with her family when she was a child, assimilated into the Borg collective. Having been assimilated so young Seven has no real memory of who she used to be so when she is cut off from the collective she is utterly lost and distressed. Never the less she is tough and adaptable and with the help of Voyager’s crew she begins to recover some of her humanity and become a valued and brilliant member of the team.
Seven of Nine: I assure you, resistance is futile.
Seven of Nine: As we approached Borg space, I began to re-evaluate my future. The prospect of becoming a drone… was unappealing.
Capt. Kathryn Janeway: Sometimes you’ve got to look back in order to move forward. Sounds to me like you’re starting to embrace your humanity.
Seven of Nine: No. But as I said – nothing is impossible.
Seven of Nine: Those orders were the result of Starfleet’s ignorance and fear. I can alleviate your ignorance. As for your fear…
Star Trek Voyager
Clear, decisive and logical Seven of Nine is a survivor above all.
She does seem to end up with a series of ridiculously tight outfits but she rocks it.