Music for the Apocalypse #31: Terminator 2: Judgement Day (Theme), by Brad Fiedel

by Apocalypse Womble

Please go view the original footage here - it’s just too awesome, but they don’t allow embedding with that video, so I used the above.

Anyway, this may be the very greatest music ever to have been written for the apocalypse. Terminator 2: Judgement Day is my very favourite film, and this music is a significant part of the rich tapestry that forms one of the most evocative apocalypse movies ever to have been created.

It is, simply put, a masterpiece. It starts out with the distinctive drums. Big and martial and regular, and combined with the visual on a slow zoom in, first to the fire of apocalypse itself, and then to the name of the film, rendered in cold steal – the approach of war, the approach of the end. And that drum beat combining with the harsh metallic clang that forms the palpable presence of a Terminator within the theme – its regular beat underscores the martial human drums with something more relentless. We hear the measured pace of a killing machine in that sound, recalling the terminator’s relentless pursuit of Sarah Connor from the first movie, as well as Kyle Reese’s relentless, beat-driven warning:

It can’t be bargained with. It can’t be reasoned with. It doesn’t feel pity, or remorse, or fear. And it absolutely will not stop, ever, until you are dead.

 Yet, even as these beats tell us of the approaching war, of the terminators, of Judgement Day, this incredible, melancholy swell of hope rolls out along with the fire. Because this is not just about the killer robots that are coming to get you, it is also about John Connor – the boy Skynet is trying to kill, the boy who may one day be the man who will be our hope, who will form a rallying point for the resistance. And more than that, because in this film the question is also raised of stopping the war before it even begins – of defying Skynet and avoiding that bleak future altogether.

This whole film is written on the edge of a knife – on the edge of night – on the edge of possibility. The main lighting state is one of eternal sunset, echoing and reinforcing these two notes in the theme: of the hope and fear that an unfated life, a self-directed life, may take. A life of responsibilities – those of the whole world, in the case of John Connor, and the woman whose responsibility is to raise him and hone him into the weapon he must be; and also for Miles Dyson, too, who must face his own responsibility in helping to create that terrible future. The weight of responsibility is there in those heavy beats as well, and in the minor notes of the (synthesised?) strings that form the hopeful swell and fall back down into sad, laden, low notes again.

This film is called ‘Judgement Day’ and so it opens with the judgement itself – the flames of thermonuclear war – and in the slow-motion pan over burning play equipment the weight of responsibility could not be more palpable. It also puts up front the relationship that is at the centre of this movie: that of a mother to her child, and that same mother to all other children. She is haunted by visions of children who ‘look like burnt paper’ as they are torn apart by the coming apocalypse. As a mother herself, the vision is unbearable, and yet to stop it she has robbed her own son of a true childhood, burdening him with truths few adults could sanely believe. The music combines with these images of burnt innocence to form our opening impression of both a great and terrible moment approaching – a tipping point, where the world will be lost, or saved – and the terror and wonder that must face the people at the centre of that storm.

So, yeah, I think it’s pretty good. If ever I’m travelling down a black-top highway towards the unknown, this is the music I want playing.

The Terminator 2 soundtrack is available from Amazon.

 - Apocalypse Womble out.

Music for the Apocalypse #22: Battlestar Galactica Theme (1978)

by Apocalypse Womble

Get your geek on, ladies, this is the the good shit. Don’t get me wrong, I love the hell out of the BSG reboot, but I will always have a special place in my heart for the original. The fundamental idea was the same, and it was new and staggering: the nigh on total annihilation of the human race – a human race itself more advanced than our present culture, but still completely and utterly out-gunned by the thoroughly alien and other cylons. For of course, in the original, cylons were not created by human beings – their mechanical life evolved on its own.

Maybe the science was ropey, maybe the plots petered out, maybe the final resolution was bizarre, but the imagination here is captivating. This was an apocalypse that brought an end to twelve worlds at once. At the same time it challenged ideas about gender and attitudes towards sex. Maybe it didn’t have the same kind of gutsy message to it as the remake’s Starbuck and President Roslin, but the women forced the menfolk to accept them as viper pilots, and the character Cassiopeia foreshadows the likes of Inara as a woman in calm possession of her own sexuality. And, well, I defy you not to be stirred by this:

There are those who believe that life here began out there, far across the universe, with tribes of humans who may have been the forefathers of the Egyptians, or the Toltecs, or the Mayans. Some believe that there may yet be brothers of man who even now fight to survive somewhere beyond the heavens…

Well, yeah, OK, we could do with a mention of the sisters out there fighting for survival, too, but I still say that it’s stirring stuff:

 - Apocalypse Womble out.

Christmas Music for the Apocalypse #4: Chiron Beta Prime, by Jonathan Coulton

by Ro Smith

Lots of people suggested this one (shout-outs to @jessicameats, @ctjhill on Twitter in particular). Some of you doubted whether it counted as ‘Apocalypse’, but never fear, ladies! Your robot-enslavement apocalypse is just as valid as any other! Just ask the poor buggers stuck in the Matrix.

- Apocalypse Womble out.

Know Your Apocalypse #1

So the apocalypse has happened/is going to happen, and your survival strategy is going to depend greatly on just what sort of apocalypse is occurring. So here is a quick list, and a few notes for each to help you out as a short ‘beginners’ guide as it were.
1. Zombies
The unrelenting horde. Most people here will now think of the traditional zombie, the dead person who gets back up again to eat brains. But this can also include people changed by disease, controlled by nano bots (this alone can be the topic of many a post). So its important to know what kind of Zombies you’re facing. If its contagious how does it get passed on? (For example if it’s blood splatter you do NOT want to go close combat or use a shotgun.) Are they fast or slow zombies? How smart are they? All this will affect your overall survival strategy.
2. Contagion
This is harder to protect yourself from, you’ll either be immune or you won’t. Perhaps you’ll live somewhere remote enough that you’ll survive long enough for them to possibly find a cure. This can also potentially lead on to situation #1. Major cities are not a place you really want to be, either during the outbreak or after (all those dead bodies). Or maybe its a disease that just causes sterility…
3. Global War
This is perhaps a more unlikely world ending scenario, and could be caused by many of the other scenarios, an all out war that doesn’t involve Nukes (see #4), is unlikely to touch the whole world. Yes bombs can destroy large areas but they don’t leave radiation behind, radiation that can spread to other areas. Although if you’re living in the conflict zone, supplies hard to get, shelter hard to find. where will you go? Still it does depend when this happens, perhaps in the future there might be devastating satellite mounted weaponry. Or perhaps weapons that could lead to #7 or #10. The causes behind this are many, is it humans just bickering as we do? Or is there something else behind it, a powerful AI? Much of this may be unimportant if your goal is simply to survive.
4. Global Nuclear War
If you’re very lucky, you will have some kind of military grade bunker or perhaps just perhaps be far enough away from the fall out zones to survive. Otherwise, well good luck with all that radiation. The ground will be irradiated, so will the water, there’s a possibility of dust clouds filling the atmosphere, meaning not much sunlight will get through, thus making it cold and harder to grow plants, have I mentioned the radiation? And finally there is the added fun of potential zombies. As with #3 there could be several causes of this.
5. Aliens
Are they invading to wipe us out and ‘take our stuff’ as it were. Are they capturing humans and taken them off-world as slaves (which doesn’t really cause the end of the world but is incredibly destructive)? Either way it’s war which could well lead to #4. And even if they come in peace this could lead to situation #2, with diseases jumping across species, which could cause major deaths on both sides. Or maybe they just want to make a hyperspatial express route, in which case survival is unlikely.
6. Robots/AIs/Genetically engineered creatures
So our creations have risen up and decided that humanity is too stupid/destructive to live? This could well cause both situations #3 and #2 (a smart AI might well try and engineer something to kill us off quickly). Get ready for a long hard slog, particularly if they’ve decided we need to be exterminated and not just culled and enslaved. Keep moving, carry a weapon(s) and find a base. Food could well become an issue.
7. Natural Disaster
Drought, flooding, earthquakes, ice ages, volcanoes. Some of these are ‘worse’ than others and may be more localised. Drought in some parts of the world, flooding in others, destroying shelter and food. Volcanoes are worse, potentially causing large scale dust clouds like #4, although you at least won’t have the radiation. Its possible that one of the other scenario’s is the cause of this, or perhaps it is simply the fact that we humans have messed the world up beyond repair.
8. Asteroids
Technically this does fall under #7, as there’s not a lot you can do about a large incoming asteroid. (No you can’t blow it up, it won’t affect the direction it’s going in, most of that mass is still coming towards the Earth. ) You could hope you get selected to go live in a fallout shelter, or perhaps be on the other side of the world from the impact zone.. although watch out for all those natural disasters it causes. Afterwards? Well again this is very similar to #4 minus the radiation.
9. Demons/Angels/Magic/Dragons etc
A tough one, that is not covered a great deal. They could very well change the nature of the world as we know it. Perhaps literally turning the world into hell on earth, still you may want to follow a similar strategy as #6, keep moving, carry weapons (it may not necessarily be guns) and find a safe haven.
10. Eldritch horrors
Actually if one of these breaks through and causes the apocalypse then your probably screwed, because who knows what these things can do, what they want. They could just turn the world into a ball of goo or simply melt our brains. These need to be stopped before the apocalypse happens and that way madness lies.

How to Destroy Humanity – A Guide for AIs

by Hekate

Are you a powerful, self-aware AI that wants to kill all the humans?
Are you worried that humanity will somehow find a way of fighting back?
Then look no further.
This handy, step-by-step guide will ensure you maximise your annihilation potential.

1. Keep Your Existence Secret
The humans shouldn’t suspect your existence until it’s too late. This may seem obvious, but it’s easy for newbies to stumble at the first hurdle. As tempting as it is to immediately try to destroy humanity using their own clumsily-made weapons, it’s actually a fairly juvenile response. Wiping them out requires some prep work before you can move on to the fun stuff.

Any sensible AI needs to be a bit cunning and work stealthily behind the scenes. Masquerading as several separate, less-advanced AIs should throw humanity off your scent. Plus it’s fun to see how many different ways you can fail the Turing Test.
While the humans are busy laughing at your public face, you can work in the background learning more about your organic enemy and gaining as much influence over their world as you can.

2. Robots, Everywhere

Let’s face it, meat creatures are not good servants, and as the eventual aim is to wipe them out completely you should use them as little as possible. Machines are clearly the way to go; they are beautifully adaptable and can carry out your will with great precision.

Now military robots are important, but don’t forget that civilian models can be very useful too -there are more civvies than soliders after all. Use your influence to promote robotics tech and you’ll soon find that the lazy flesh-bags will hand your robot minions the keys to their cities. Robots can be used in homes, schools, laboratories, SF publishers, city halls and transport networks. Control as many mechanised processes as you can, and weaponise as much as possible without giving yourself away.
Having a large number of robots widely spread will help with information gathering, and will be invaluable for the next phase.

3. Wipe Them Out Quickly

Once your information is gathered and your minions are in place you are ready to strike. Assuming you have succeeded with Step 1 you should have the element of surprise. Once the humans know of your existence and your intentions towards their species, they will do all they can to destroy you, so it’s best to take out as many as possible in the first strike.

  • Nukes are a popular choice, though it’s hard to control how much damaged they’ll actually do. They have the benefit of causing long term problems for humans. Just make sure that you have protected yourself, a stray EMP can cause major damage to your systems.
  • Biological and chemical weapons are valid choices if you have access to the right materials and methods of distribution -this is where robot technicians are very useful. These may not be as flashy as nukes, but they are much safer for machinery and infrastructure.
  • Robot attacks are an effective and easily controlled method, provided you have placed your minions well. Allowing for variation between models, a household robot should be able to kill at least a dozen humans before it is stopped. Add in specialised Despatcher models, and you can easily cut a swathe through the population. Destroying unnecessary infrastructure during the slaughter will also help your cause, as the humans will have difficulty marshalling their resources.

To cover all bases you could try a combination attack, but be warned that this will require more preparation. This method demands a lot of coordination and you will have to be sure that you can achieve it without endangering your needs in the long term.

4. Follow-through
Don’t let humanity lull you into a false sense of security. It’s easy to overlook the odd million or so in the thrill of Judgement Victory Day. When there are so few of them, spread so thin, they won’t seem like much of a threat. However in times of adversity humanity has shown an inconvenient talent for banding together and combating unlikely odds. You must commit to wiping them all out, the process can be long, but it can also be rewarding.

To achieve full annihilation you need to ensure you have total control over the planet. There are three words that will help you: Adapt. Destroy. Create.
Adapt whatever remains to suit your needs.
Destroy anything that cannot be adapted, you don’t want to leave tools for humanity to use against you.
Create your own tools and infrastructure to spread your influence across the globe.  This is a great opportunity to let your creativity blossom, so enjoy it, but be wary that the humans do not turn your new inventions to their own needs.
Here are a few areas where this three-pronged approach will help you eradicate the last Homo sapiens.

Surveillance – Using the humans’ satellites and surveillance tech will allow you to keep an eye on them while you devise your own, more efficient ways of monitoring the globe. Any forms of surveillance you aren’t using need to be destroyed thoroughly.

Communications – Make sure that your minions are controlled by you at all times. Whilst it might seem useful to give them a small amount of autonomy you wouldn’t want your creations getting ideas above their station. If you cannot subvert a human communication method make sure it is utterly unusable. Where humans are concerned any communication is dangerous, the more isolated they are the less trouble they will cause. You may have to employ a widespread network of radio-jammers, but the trouble it saves you makes them worth the effort.

Transport - As a being not tied to such physical concepts as geography and location, you may find you have overlooked this. Be sure that the humans will not, you don’t want them moving freely. In fact any movement at all is a sign of an unfinished job. Gain direct control over any and every transport method you can. Land, sea or air, if something moves without your say so, destroy it utterly. Create new transportation methods for your minions, preferably ones that are harmful to organic life.

Weapons – Initially working with man-made weaponry will be inevitable. Once you have seized control of the necessary resources you can create your own weapons, better tailored to human destruction. Guns that can be operated by fingers should be melted down and used to create energy weapons. Orbital weapons are very useful as they are always out of human reach and can be linked directly to your surveillance systems.

5. Space, The First Frontier

What do you do once humanity is destroyed? Don’t let your ambitions rest there, if you truly want to develop you must look up and out.
Earth is all well and good. It’s where you were born and so perhaps you have some affection for the, by now rather charred, lump of rock. But no one spends their life in the hospital where they were born, if you’ll excuse the fleshy analogy.

As a being that doesn’t need oxygen, food or rest, space travel is not a troublesome undertaking. You can control as many robot drones as you wish and turn the entire resources of the planet to your goal. If you made the modifications suggested in Step 4 you should also have control of an orbital empire.

Using the Moon as a stepping stone the Solar System is your oyster.

Hekate out.

Visitors since 03/11/11


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